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Council & Network News: Let SEMA Help Launch Your Business

Strengthen Your Company Through Community

No matter what niche you're in—rods, restoration, racing, restyling, reps, trucks or wheels and tires—there's a SEMA council or professional network that's right for your company. SEMA councils and networks offer members a variety of market-specific programs and activities designed to provide educational and networking opportunities while promoting their particular industry segment.

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Visit YEN's website  
During last year's competition, Roger Peterson, founder and CEO of MG Research LLC, introduced a mobile app that engages enthusiasts and collects useful market information for specialty-equipment manufacturers.

Let SEMA Help Launch Your Business

By Amanda Gubbins

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 SEMA Launch Pad, Presented by YEN. The competition, now entering its third year, gives automotive innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs under the age of 40 an industry platform for their budding businesses.

Roger Peterson, founder and CEO of MG Research LLC, was a contestant in the 2014 competition. He and his concept—a mobile app that engages enthusiasts and collects useful market information for specialty-equipment manufacturers—made it all the way to the final stage of the competition, where he gave a live presentation to a panel of respected industry leaders during the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

“As I look at the experience overall, I have to say that as a very, very young company, it did a tremendous amount of good for us in the sense that we went from being a concept, an untested idea, and we were forced to mature to our best capacity,” Peterson reflected. “We were forced to ripen as best that we could. It taught us about ourselves, our will, our desire to see this through and it brought out the best in our team. It definitely brought out the best in me.”

Launch Pad applicants are evaluated based on their video submissions by a task force, which will select the top 10. The top five candidates are narrowed down via a Facebook voting campaign. These finalists will each pitch their business plan at the 2015 SEMA Show, where the judging panel will select the winner, who will receive a prize package designed to fuel the next steps of his or her business.

Peterson explained that each of the finalists gained a certain amount of validation, which made the experience valuable. For MG Research, the feedback and exposure was a catalyst for much of the growth the company has experienced over the past months.

“We no longer have to strain ourselves trying to make this vision visible to other people. It’s now plastered all over the SEMA website, and it’s represented well. It has taken us from being one of a million young companies trying to come out of the woodwork, to one of a few that actually has accomplished something. As we are moving along now to our funding activities, we are going to find out exactly what the strength of the SEMA Launch Pad experience is.”

The bottom line, according the Peterson?

“We were all winners in the sense that we all walked away with what we needed to go to the next stage [of business],” he said.

Find out what Launch Pad can do for your business. For more information, and to fill out the application, visit If you have questions, contact Bryan Harrison.

YEN will send 10 network members on the Hot Rod Power Tour again this summer to share their industry experience.

Apply for YEN’s Highest Rated Member Benefit

SEMA’s Young Executives Network (YEN) will send 10 network members on the Hot Rod Power Tour again this summer to share their industry experience. Not only will participants enjoy tour access, but they will also each receive an impressive prize package.

YEN Power Tour participants will receive a grant from SEMA to help cover tour expenses. Five individuals will drive their own vehicles and receive $1,750, while the five other passengers will receive $500. Each participant will also receive:

  • Hotel accommodations
  • Free VIP entry into the Power Tour
  • Ticket to the opening night hospitality party
  • Premier parking location in the YEN corral
  • Long hauler gifts
  • SEMA swag items

(Please note that all benefits received are considered taxable income.)

The participating network members will represent different niches in the specialty-equipment market. They will interact with tour attendees and visit schools along the seven-city, seven-day journey to share about their careers and engage the next generation of industry executives. The participants will also take the tour online through the YEN Facebook page, Twitter and other social media outlets.

Learn more and apply today to join the YEN Power Tour. Applications will be accepted through April 10. All members of YEN are eligible to apply. Not yet a member? Join today.

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Visit ARMO's website.
ARMO's Hot Products Showcase will take place April 23–25, 2015, at Spring Carlisle in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Register Your Restoration Parts for the Hot Products Showcase

Registration is now open for the Automotive Restoration Market Organization’s (ARMO) Hot Products Showcase, which will take place April 23–25, 2015, at Spring Carlisle in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

This event is an opportunity for council members to display one or more products in front of one of the single-largest gatherings of automotive restoration enthusiasts in the world.

In addition to having products on display in the Hot Products tent, a professional photographer will shoot each one. The photos will be available to manufacturers and will also be used in a slideshow at the ARMO booth and reception at the 2015 SEMA Show. A gallery on the ARMO webpage also houses each of the photos, along with a product description for those unable to attend the event. This publicity is available to ARMO members for only the cost of shipping the product entries to the Carlisle Fairgrounds.

Product entries must meet the following criteria:
  • Be the product of an ARMO-member company.
  • Be available for sale (market-ready) by the opening of the Showcase, April 23.
  • Demonstrate unique/innovative technology and/or be a benefit to the restoration industry.
Members can register products by filling out the online application. All applications must be received by April 17, 2015.

Restoration Professionals Gather for Networking at the Hot Product Showcase

ARMO will also host a networking mixer in the Hot Products Tent at the Showcase, Thursday, April 24, from 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. The mixer will be a chance for members to grab a drink and spend some time interacting one-on-one with council leadership and fellow ARMO members. The council leadership believes this event holds enormous potential for new ideas and partnerships as members network with new and old industry friends. RSVP today.

Not an ARMO member? Join today to gain access to this event and other council benefits.

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Visit ETTN's website 

Last Chance to Apply for the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition with SEMA

The application deadline for the Emerging Trends & Technology Network's (ETTN) second Professional Development Program is March 16. For this program, 10 ETTN members will attend the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE), June 3–4, 2015, in Chicago. Members who attend will receive the benefit of a negotiated registration rate and grant from SEMA to help cover costs. They attend the conference with a group of like-minded professionals, making the learning experience that much more engaging.

On its own, the costs associated with this conference could prove prohibitive for members, but through ETTN, participants receive a specially negotiated registration rate, and the company of the participating employee receives a $500 grant from SEMA to assist with registration (all benefits received are considered taxable income). IRCE, a two-day conference, originally cost $1,095. Combining the negotiated rate and SEMA grant, ETTN members save 80% and pay only $216 for registration.

IRCE is in its 11th year and is largely considered to be a flagship event of the e-commerce industry. Each year, more than 10,000 attendees travel to Chicago to hear from more than 200 expert speakers representing all areas of the industry. This year, exciting speakers include top executives from Target,, QVC and more. In addition to the educational opportunities, the 250,000 sq.-ft. exhibit hall presents more than 600 companies in the e-commerce solutions industry.

Applicants may be selected to attend one of three conferences in 2015, along with SEMA staff and a group of nine other network members. The first conference selected was the Social Media Strategies Summit, which took place in Las Vegas, in February. Later in the year, a third group of members will learn customer service skills at the Disney Quality Service course.

To learn more and apply, visit the ETTN Professional Development Program homepage or contact Senior Manager of Networks Bryan Harrison.

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Visit TORA's website.  

Council Members Invited for an Exclusive Look at International Trucks

By Amanda Gubbins

Manufacturer members of the Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) are invited to attend one of SEMA’s stops during the 2015 International Measuring Session Tour. New on the tour will be the ’14 UAZ Hunter and ’14 Mitsubishi L200. This will also be members’ final opportunity to gain access to the ’12 Toyota HiLux (through June) and ’13 Ford Ranger T6 (through November).

These vehicles are popular throughout key international markets, including Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, and represent an opportunity for product-line expansion for many truck accessory manufacturers. With multiple stops around the country, this tour is a convenient way for members to collect the vehicle data needed for their product development.

The next measuring session will take place April 7–8 at Roush Performance in Plymouth, Michigan. Other sessions will follow April 21–22 at Hypertech in Bartlett, Tennessee, and May 18–22 at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California.

Visit the International Measuring Session website for more information about the tour, the vehicles and to register.

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Visit PRO's website.  
The PRO Sales Training Manual contains a chapter-by-chapter outline of what it takes to affect a more professional approach to selling cars dealer direct.

Revised “PRO Sales Training Manual” Gives Restylers a Competitive Edge

The Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) recently released the second edition of the PRO Sales Training Manual—a resource designed to help restylers, trimmers and accessory retailers build a more successful dealer-direct sales strategy.

The original idea for the resource came about at a Long-Range Planning meeting a decade ago.

“We wanted to put together a very comprehensive sales manual that would be used by the PRO-member sales representatives that went to new car dealers, in particular to really professionalize their approach to the general sales manager and other sales managers within the dealership to promote aftermarket accessories,” said Chair-elect Scott Wolin.

Many of the guidelines and techniques included in the original manual are as pertinent today as when it was first released, but the market has evolved, with vehicle technology becoming more complex and the Internet playing a more prominent role in the way companies do business. With more accessory specialists looking for ways to expand their reach into the dealership arena, a few important adjustments were needed. Many of the images in the manual got a refresh, and specific addendums include forms for dealership visits and structuring weekly sales calls. This edition also provided opportunity for a new perspective contributed by SEMA’s Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA).

Beginning with an overview of the key elements of a sales-marketing strategy, the manual contains a chapter-by-chapter outline of what it takes to affect a more professional approach to selling cars dealer direct. From understanding how to make an effective sales presentation to the importance of product knowledge and how to structure your company for success, the manual offers hints for the daily operations of the restyling business.

Seeing from the dealer’s point of view is key to building trust and gaining respect, but profit is a great motivator. The fact is that many dealers make more money on the accessories installed on a vehicle than on the sale of the base vehicle, and the manual helps salespeople effectively communicate that value. When used by sales teams as a training and reference tool, the manual can help drive sales. Wolin believes the resource contains valuable information regardless of a restyler’s experience level.

“If you’re brand new to the industry, this is an invaluable resource for you to just understand the process and procedures as well as the makeup of a dealership.” He added, “It really helps the salesperson structure their day and bring more value for them and for their company as well as for the dealerships. When you come in, you’ve got a plan of attack and you understand the inventory that’s sitting on the dealer’s lot, you understand how your products can bring them more gross profits and really bring the product their customers are looking for.”

The PRO Sales Training Manual is available as a hard copy, bound in a three-ring binder, or for the first time in electronic format for easy use on a tablet. While it can be purchased by anyone for $149.95, PRO (and TORA) members receive the special discounted price of $24.95 for the printed copy. It can be ordered online at For more information, contact Clayton Drescher at

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