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Truck Industry Award Winners Announced

By SEMA Editors

Mike Slater, center, accepted the SEMA Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) Retailer of the Year award on behalf of Eastern Truck and Accessories during the third annual TORA Awards at the 2019 SEMA Show.

The SEMA Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) announced the winners of its third annual TORA Awards during the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The awards are given to members who positively influence the market and to the best new products in the truck industry. Selected by TORA, the TORA SEMA Award winners included:

  • TORA Retailer of the Year: Mike Slater, Eastern Truck and Accessories
  • TORA Influencer of the Year: Jason Sakurai, Roadhouse Marketing
  • TORA Hall of Fame: Joel Ayres, Automotive Concepts 
  • TORA Ron Webster Award: Jon Engen, DECKED
  • Best Off-Road New Product: Spydura Nightline Synthetic Winch Rope, Warn Industries Inc.
  • Best Light Truck New Product: Jeep Gladiator Bedside Storage Lockboxes, Bestop Premium Accessories Group

“The growth of the light-truck and off-road markets wouldn’t be possible without the continuous efforts of our supporting manufacturers and industry influencers,” said TORA Chairman Erika Marquez. “We are pleased to honor the individuals whose creativity, industriousness and accomplishments have contributed to the success of the light-truck and off-road aftermarket.”     

The Retailer of the Year Award, which recognizes a light-truck retailer whose accomplishments have enhanced the stature and growth of the industry, was awarded to off-road shop Eastern Truck and Accessories, from Norfolk, Virginia. In addition to participating in 25–30 local shows per year, Eastern Truck Accessories gives back to the community by donating to local charities, sponsoring youth events and raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Jason Sakurai of Roadhouse Marketing was named Influencer of the Year. As a journalist, Sakurai focuses 100% on trucks, SUVs, off-road and associated markets, including SXS and UTV. He currently writes for OutdoorX4 magazine and their online publication, where he also serves as an ad director.

The TORA Hall of Fame was awarded to Joel Ayres. With more than 40 years of experience in the truck and accessory aftermarket, Ayres’ contributions have earned him leadership roles, including on the SEMA Board of Directors. He is the founder and first chairman of SEMA Cares and has served as a chair of the SEMA Scholarship Committee and LTAA Select Committee. Ayres is active in his community, volunteering his time to multiple education outlets and youth outreach programs.

Jon Engen is the winner of the TORA Ron Webster Memorial Award for Engineering Excellence. A former civil engineer, Engen presented effective solutions to decreasing the weight of truck bed drawers, eventually leading to the success of DECKED. Engen was a veteran of the Norwegian Army and alumni of the University of Oslo.

The award for the Best Off-Road New Product was presented to Warn Industries Inc. for the Spydura Nightline Synthetic Winch Rope. Made from molecular-weight polyethylene with UV-stable coating, the red-and-black weave integrates a 3M light-activated reflective strand into the rope improving visibility during recoveries.

Bestop Premium Accessories Group was awarded Best Light Truck New Product for its Jeep Gladiator Bedside Storage Lockboxes. With easy access from the exterior of the bed, the large storage areas feature fast installation with no drilling, included with tie downs and a nylon net to restrain gear in the main bed and dividers to keep gear in place internally.