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SEMA Inducts Four Industry Leaders Into the SEMA Hall of Fame

By SEMA Editors

Rich Barsamian, Jack Chisenhall, John Gaines, and Joe St. Lawrence will receive the specialty-equipment industry’s highest honor as the newest members of the SEMA Hall of Fame. The four are the latest representatives of an esteemed group of industry icons who have influenced and inspired the $43 billion automotive specialty-equipment industry.

Rich Barsamian has been actively volunteering and helping to improve our industry since he joined the Young Executives Network (YEN) in 1995. He has helped bring many educational programs to SEMA members and worked tirelessly as an ambassador to help grow SEMA membership. Over the years, Barsamian has earned numerous recognitions for his continued work in the automotive aftermarket, including SEMA Person of the Year in 2014, and exemplifies the SEMA Hall of Fame criteria with regard to professionalism, dignity, integrity, stature and growth of the industry.

Jack Chisenhall is credited with making climate-control systems accessible by founding the San Antonio, Texas, company Vintage Air, and also helped create what is now the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA), among other innovations and contributions. His work made enthusiasts’ cars more comfortable and easier to drive, and that meant more miles logged behind the wheel, more money spent on modifications and more time on the road wrenching, driving, building and enjoying these cars. It was a cultural shift and a game changer.

John Gaines was an early pioneer in automotive aftermarket warehouse distribution. His company, G&M Performance Parts, was one of the first of its kind in the automotive aftermarket. Gaines’ distributorship was one of the first in the country to utilize a fleet of vehicles to distribute product direct to local speed shops, truck accessory stores, car dealerships and machine shops, creating a much quicker and more streamlined process from manufacturer to end user. Gaines is credited with forward-thinking early on that helped many manufacturers grow to where they are today.

Joe St. Lawrence started RTM, the industry's first production company for auto how-to shows in the mid-1980s. He created PowerBlock, television’s first two-hour, auto theme-block featuring how-to shows that introduced SEMA-member products to million of viewers. St. Lawrence’s shows sparked parts-buying on Monday, and gave DYIers the confidence to bolt-on aftermarket parts and customize their vehicles. He introduced broad audiences to cool cars and helped change the image of the backyard mechanic into a tool-wielding expert.

Learn more about past SEMA Hall of Fame inductees at