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SEMA 50th Anniversary Industry Awards Banquet Celebrates Person of the Year, Honors Hall of Fame Inductees

By Chad Simon

For its 50th anniversary, themed “We Built This,” the 2016 SEMA Industry Awards Banquet celebrated the specialty-equipment market’s contributors and innovators. Guided by first-year emcees Dennis Pittsenbarger and Jessi Combs, the evening also featured comedian, multiplatinum recording artist and Grammy nominee Larry the Cable Guy—known for his signature catchphrase “Git-R-Done” and the voice of Mater in the animated feature films Cars and Cars 2.

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 now $39 billion strong. The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees were Matt Agosta, Chip Foose and Gary Hooker.

The annual celebration included an awards program in which SEMA's Person of the Year, Manufacturer 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 – Tim Martin, K&N Engineering Inc.
  • Manufacturer of the Year: WeatherTech
  • GEN-III Innovator Award – Jonathan Mill, Keyway Innovations
  • Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year – Kunzman & Associates
  • WD of the Year – Turn 14 Distribution Inc.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as the 2016 SEMA Person of the Year,” said Tim Martin, vice president of K&N Engineering Inc. “It has been a privilege to work with the SEMA leadership team on many issues that matter to all SEMA members. I could not volunteer without the support of the team at K&N, and my wife and family. SEMA has many hard-working volunteers, and our industry is filled with talented people. Working with SEMA staff and volunteers has been a rewarding experience for me. This is an industry full of people that love what they do. The work that SEMA is doing is very important to the future of our industry and the automotive lifestyle. I am very thankful to be involved with SEMA, and to be recognized as playing a part in our accomplishments on behalf of SEMA members.”

dennis pittsenbarger and jessi combs
Dennis Pittsenbarger and Jessi Combs emceed the 50th anniversary banquet, themed “We Built This.”
larry the cable guy
Comedian Larry the Cable Guy entertained the banquet crowd.
tim martin
Tim Martin was honored as the 2016 SEMA Person of the Year.
matt agosta
Matt Agosta (right), president/CEO of Steele Rubber Products and 2016 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee, was recognized for his involvement with SEMA. He has volunteered his time as a board member, chairman of the ARMO council and a founding member of the SEMA Political Action Committee and President’s Club.
Gary Hooker
Jessi Combs talks with 2016 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Gary Hooker, who revolutionized the headers business and grew his company from a $100,000 enterprise to $3 million in just three years.
chip foose
Automotive designer and reality show star Chip Foose was honored as a 2016 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee for his charitable work and multiple-award-winning builds.
manufacturer of the year
WeatherTech won the Manufacturer of the Year award.
gen3 innovator
Jonathan Mill of Keyway Innovations accepted the GEN-III Innovator award.
rep agency of the year
Kunzman & Associates was presented with the Rep Agency of the Year award.
wd of the year
Turn 14 Distribution Inc. was named WD of the Year.