By Chad Simon
More than 3,000 automotive aftermarket industry professionals attended the 2017 SEMA Industry Awards Banquet, held Thursday, November 2, at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
Themed “You: Leading Our Future,” the 2017 SEMA Industry Awards Banquet, held Thursday, November 2, at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, celebrated the specialty-equipment market’s contributors and innovators. Guided by emcees Jarod DeAnda and Jessi Combs, the evening also featured live music from legendary rock n’ roll musicians Billy F Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan and Michael Anthony, who were backed by Vaughan’s Tilt-A-Whirl band.
More than 3,000 automotive aftermarket industry 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 $42 billion strong. The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees were GiGi Carleton, Doug Evans and Barry Meguiar.
The annual celebration included an awards program in which SEMA's Person of the Year, Manufacturer of the Year, GEN-III Innovator of the Year Award, Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year and WD of the Year honors were presented. The winners were:
- Person of the Year – John Johnson, The Spartan Group
- Manufacturer of the Year – MagnaFlow
- GEN-III Innovator of the Year Award – Pete Gonzales, Darkside Scientific, creators of LumiLor Light Emitting Coating
- Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year – Considine Sales & Marketing
- WD of the Year – Meyer Distributing
“I am honored to receive the Person of the Year recognition and humbled being in the company of predecessor recipients,” said John Johnson of The Spartan Group. “My involvement in SEMA has always been a labor of love and a means to return in some small measure the many benefits I and my firm have received. The staff and my fellow Board members have been wonderful to work with. I encourage other executives serving the industry to participate in the SEMA organization.”
Jessi Combs and Jarod DeAnda emceed the 2017 SEMA Industry Awards Banquet, themed “You: Leading Our Future.”
Backed by the Tilt-A-Whirl band, (L-R): Billy F Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan and Michael Anthony rocked the house, providing musical entertainment to those in attendance.
SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting welcomed guests to the industry-wide gathering and paid tribute to the icons who passed in 2017.
SEMA Chairman of the Board Wade Kawasaki stressed the importance of replenishing the automotive specialty-equipment industry with young talent and outlined SEMA’s youth initiatives.
John Johnson of The Spartan Group was honored as the 2017 SEMA Person of the Year.
Doug Evans (center), SEMA immediate past chairman and 2017 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee, was recognized for his SEMA youth and political outreach initiatives. He was named SEMA Person of the Year in 2009.
2017 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee GiGi Carleton (center) spent 50 years working for Petersen Publishing Company and the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation as a special events coordinator and party planner for trade-show exhibitors and advertisers. She helped promote the inaugural SEMA Show at Dodger Stadium in 1967.
Barry Meguiar (left), third-generation president of Meguiar’s car-care products, was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame class of 2017. Noted for his passion, he transformed the small family business with a dozen employees into a global company offering up hundreds of products in 120 countries. Through his radio show “Car Crazy,” Meguiar has helped to popularize the specialty automotive market.
MagnaFlow won the Manufacturer of the Year award.
Pete Gonzales, Darkside Scientific, creators of LumiLor Light Emitting Coating, accepted the GEN-III Innovator of the Year Award.
Meyer Distributing was named WD of the Year.
Considine Sales & Marketing was presented with the Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year award.