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Council & Network News: Follow These YEN Members on the Hot Rod Power Tour

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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Follow These YEN Members on the Hot Rod Power Tour

By Amanda Gubbins

For the second year, 10 members of SEMA’s Young Executives Network (YEN) will set out on the Hot Rod Power Tour to share their stories and promote the variety of career paths available in the specialty-equipment market. Along the seven-stop journey from Wisconsin to Louisiana, these up-and-coming industry leaders will complete a variety of daily assignments, such as interviewing fellow industry members and presenting their own career experiences at local schools. All of these experiences will be chronicled on the YEN Facebook page.

The 10 participants were selected from a pool of applicants to represent different niches within the industry. Five will drive their own vehicles, and the remaining five will ride along as passengers. A brief introduction to each individual is below, with more information on the YEN Power Tour homepage.

Josh Backes
Courtney Barber
Tim Brueggemann
Jared Chavez
Cathy Clark
Matthew Davis
Keith McWilliams
Stacy Reynolds
Troy Spackman
Tyler Wesely

Josh Backes, Sales Representative, 3pConnect USA
Josh Backes has spent most of his adult life working within the industry he grew up loving. Though he attended university with the intention of being a high-school history teacher, Backes quickly discovered his true calling within the automotive aftermarket. Backes has chosen to take his Toyota FJ Cruiser along for the 5,200-mile journey to and from the 2015 Hot Rod Power Tour.

Courtney Barber, Marketing, Kicker
Like many people, Courtney Barber wasn’t born a gearhead. But as soon as she bought her ’65 Mustang online from a dealer in Texas and drove it back home to South Carolina, she was addicted to the experience of driving. The calypso-green ’65 Mustang not only serves as a rally car, it’s also Barber’s daily driver.

Tim Brueggemann, Owner, B-Line Auto Co.

Tim Brueggemann is the founder and owner of B-Line Auto Co. in Norfolk, Nebraska. Brueggemann’s father taught him a lot about the business side of owning and running a successful shop and even more about the metal-shaping side. Before Brueggemann could even drive, he was customizing old cars. Brueggemann will drive B-Lines’ shop truck—a ’53 Ford F-100.

Jared Chavez, Account Manager, MagnaFlow
When Jared Chavez is not in the MagnaFlow office managing many of the company’s top performance accounts, he can be found traveling to events and shows across the country, directly promoting the company to the consumer market. When asked what he’s most looking forward to on the Power Tour, Chavez focused on networking, youth engagement and awareness.

Cathy Clark, Account Executive, Bob Cook Sales
Cathy Clark is a manufacturers’ rep with Bob Cook Sales—a leader in representing performance and truck accessory products and six-time winner of the SEMA Rep Agency of the Year award. She graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in logistics. With her experience and education, she brings a unique perspective to the automotive industry.

Matthew Davis, Director of Marketing, Premier Performance Products

Matthew Davis’ passion for automobiles started behind the wheel of his parents’ Toyota Corona when his dad let him steer home from church. His dream has always been to write about cars for a living. He regularly contributes to the auto blog and has done freelance work for Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Diesel Tech magazine.

Keith McWilliams, Product Engineer, COMP Performance Group
Keith McWilliams has been a product engineer for COMP Performance Group in Memphis, Tennessee, since completing his Master’s degree at Mississippi State University. While most of his fellow students left college to go to work, he was able to “play.” His interest in cars began at a young age, and he grew up spending Saturday nights at local tracks in South Mississippi, watching the weekend shows. You can see McWilliams driving his ’76 Corvette on the tour.

Stacy Reynolds, CEO, Reynolds Performance Group
Stacy Reynolds, aka "Stacy Stangz," has a true passion for cars and aftermarket performance. This passion has intensified since she was two years old, when she would play with tools at her grandfather's shop. From there, her love affair with speed grew exponentially and continues to grow on and off the track.

Troy Spackman, Manager, Legacy Innovations
Working in various shops since graduating from Red Lion Area Senior High School in 2002, Troy Spackman specializes in chassis design, TIG welding and unique modifications that catapult his builds past the ordinary. While Spackman’s shop specializes in car design, restoration, paint, upholstery, performance and many other upgrades, he is always looking to be ahead of the curve. He will drive his ’69 Chevelle on the tour.

Tyler Wesely, Web Content Specialist, Speedway Motors Inc.

The passion for the automotive industry was instilled in Tyler Wesely at an early age. From building model cars to taking part in family hot-rod and restoration projects, Wesely’s childhood was full of resources to help motivate any young gearhead. While pursuing additional college courses in automotive restoration and transportation design, Wesely worked to form and lead a local automotive-minded non-profit organization known as Seven Mile Ridez.

YEN members are invited to meet these young leaders in person at each of YEN’s networking events along the tour route. YEN is open to all SEMA-member company employees under the age of 40. Join today at

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.

Applications are due July 3, 2015. 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.

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Learn What SEMA Offers to Restoration Businesses

The Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) will host a general membership meeting at the SEMA Garage–Product Development Center in Diamond Bar, California, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m., with the meeting running from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. A networking lunch will follow the meeting.

General membership meetings provide the perfect opportunity to let the ARMO leadership know what kind of challenges you face in day-to-day business, and to meet in person with restoration industry peers.

In addition to presentations and discussions about various topics, including SEMA Market Research, the 2015 SEMA Show, the ARMO data initiative and other projects, attendees at this meeting will be treated to a tour of the SEMA Garage. The Garage offers many valuable services and resources to members at substantial savings, including FaroArm/CMM scanning, 3D printing, fully equipped photo coves and more.

Please RSVP, or contact Jim Skelly for more information.

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Visit TORA's website.  

Media Preview Provides Truck Accessory Retailers Immediate Exposure

By Amanda Gubbins

The Light Truck Industry Alliance (TORA) is now accepting applications until June 30 for the 2015 Media Preview event, taking place Monday, November 2, prior to the opening of the 2015 SEMA Show. The event gives truck accessory manufacturers a chance to meet one on one with media reps, and is ideal for making contacts and introducing new products without sacrificing valuable floor time with buyers.

Last year’s inaugural event was a success by all accounts, with nearly 200 media in attendance. Each of the manufacturer participants were chosen from the application pool by lottery to set up temporary exhibit space within the Media Center. Throughout the four-hour event, these manufacturers showed samples and answered questions about their newest products.

Jerrod Strauss of N-Fab Inc. is a prime example of how preparation can pay off in a big way for exhibiting companies. Strauss recalls immediate gratification when an editor returned to his company’s area for a second conversation during the event with a completed article that had been already posted online. That piece resulted in two feature vehicles for the company.

Strauss provided thumb drives with files of press releases and product information to the journalists, along with hard copies of the company’s catalog. These items eased the writing process for the media reps. His other advice for participants is to be engaged during the entire afternoon event.

“It was really important that you were out and actively pulling the media in, talking about your product instead of just letting them walk by,” he reflected.

N-Fab also received a Show Stopper award from Diesel Tech magazine for the company’s AdjustStep, a nerf-step allowing for up to 5.5 in. of height adjustment on each step.

“They were so enamored by the design and the concept and what it was built for that they came by our booth [later in the week] and told us they wanted to give us the award for it. They had not stopped thinking about the ingenuity and engineering behind it,” said Strauss.

Without the Media Preview event, Diesel Tech might not have discovered N-Fab’s product. The Show Stopper award has resulted in a great deal of editorial attention for the company since last November. Much of this exposure was made possible because Strauss knew how to make it easy for the media.

“I highly recommend participating in the event, but if you’re going to do it, make sure you execute it properly,” he said.

Applying now leaves plenty of time for TORA-member companies to prepare thoroughly for the event, and the council has many resources available to help. If your company is not yet a member of TORA, consider joining to take advantage of this benefit.

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Visit MPMC's website.  

Motorsports Council Hosts Open Meeting at SEMA Garage

The Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) will host a general membership meeting at the SEMA Garage-Product Development Center in Diamond Bar, California, on Thursday, May 28, 2015. The meeting will run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and lunch at 12:00 p.m. General meetings provide the perfect opportunity to let the MPMC leadership know what kind of challenges you face in daily business operations and meet face-to-face with fellow motorsports parts manufacturers.

In addition to presentations and discussions about various MPMC initiatives, of particular interest to MPMC manufacturers will be a tour of the SEMA Garage and the various resources it offers manufacturers. Emissions testing, CMM scanning and 3D printing, along with fully equipped photo coves are all offered at substantial savings. Compliance Center Manager Peter Treydte will make a special presentation on the SEMA emissions lab and the other ways he and the Garage staff can assist with E.O. certifications.

Please RSVP, or contact Jim Skelly if you have any questions.

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Planning the Future of the Restyling and Accessory Industry

Leaders of the restyling and accessory world will converge in Detroit, June 18–19, 2015, to plan for the future. Join the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) for its Long-Range Planning meeting and industry discussion. The Detroit Metro Airport Marriott will play host as leading manufacturers, WDs, installers and restyling professionals discuss the future of the industry and develop strategies that SEMA and the PRO Select Committee will use in addressing the challenges and opportunities confronting your business.

Your insight and perspective is critical. Whether your business has been impacted by new trends in auto sales and discretionary spending, vehicle technology, installation concerns or if there is a need to identify markets for expansion, your business will benefit by being in the room when these, and other, topics are discussed.

The meeting is open to all employees of PRO-member companies, and those interested in joining PRO. Register now to be a part of the discussion. Traveling from out of town? Contact us for quality hotel options in the area. Not able to attend but want to stay involved? Contact Clayton Drescher at 909-978-6696 for more information.

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