By Chad Simon
Comedian Billy Gardell from the TV show “Mike & Molly” entertained the banquet crowd.
The 2015 SEMA Industry Awards Banquet celebrated the specialty-equipment market’s contributors and innovators and bid farewell to industry icon and “voice of SEMA” Dave McClelland, who after 40 years, emceed his final SEMA banquet. The evening also featured comedian Billy Gardell from the hit TV show “Mike & Molly” and music from Rebel Soul.
Attendees paid tribute to the newest members of the SEMA Hall of Fame—industry pioneers, volunteers and personalities who helped to pave the way and shape a specialty automotive marketplace that is more than $30 billion strong. The 2015 Hall of Fame inductees were Joel Ayres, Jim Bingham and Dennis Gage.
The annual celebration included an awards program in which SEMA's Person of the Year, GEN-III Innovator Award, Manufacturers' Rep Agency of the Year and WD of the Year honors were presented. The winners were:
- Person of the Year – Kathryn Reinhardt, MagnaFlow
- GEN-III Innovator Award – Joe “Fonzie” Plesher, DipYourCar.com
- Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year – R&R Marketing
- WD of the Year – Meyer Distributing
The accolades continued throughout the evening as the Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) announced the winners of two of its top honors—PWA Manufacturer of the Year and PWA Person of the Year. The PWA Manufacturer of the Year—which recognizes a manufacturer for outstanding contributions, dedication and support—was presented to Lund International. PWA presents its Person of the Year annually in recognition of the commitment on an individual. The 2015 Person of the Year is Steve Whipple of Edelbrock.
SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting (right) celebrated Dave McClelland’s (left) service as the longtime voice of SEMA.
Last year‘s SEMA Person of the Year Rich Barsamian presented MagnaFlow’s Kathryn Reinhardt with the 2015 SEMA Person of the Year award.
Dennis Pittsenbarger (right), host of Discovery Channel production “Highway to Sell,” recognized 2015 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Joel Ayres for his devotion to the industry and work with the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation.
Jim Bingham (left), 2015 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee, was recognized for his commitment to attracting youth to the automotive field through the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow program.
With his signature ’stache, Dennis Gage (left), host of “My Classic Car,” was honored as a 2015 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee for his volunteer work and three-term service as a member of the SEMA board of directors.
R&R Marketing was named Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year.
Joe “Fonzie” Plesher of DipYourCar.com was honored with the GEN-III Innovator Award.
Nick Gramelspacher (center) accepted the WD of the Year award on behalf of Meyer Distributing.
Steve Whipple (left) of Edelbrock received the award for PWA Person of the Year.
Lund International was named PWA Manufacturer of the Year.