By Ashley Reyes
Donna Wagner of D.M. Wagner & Associates/ASE Education Foundation has been named the SEMA Professional Restylers Organization’s (PRO) first-ever Volunteer Spotlight Member. Wagner is a current PRO Select Committee volunteer, aftermarket career veteran and former college professor who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to PRO. Her active industry participation has made her a vital contributor to SEMA and the association is proud to recognize her for her contributions.
Get to know what inspires Wagner about the industry in her Q&A with SEMA.
SEMA: What inspired you to pursue a career in restyling/manufacturing?
Donna Wagner: I started my career with an aftermarket trade association and fell in love with the automotive industry. From there, I moved into various positions, including marketing, category management, education and now working with ASE and consulting. I like the daily challenge of figuring out how to improve business.
SEMA: Why did you decide to volunteer for PRO? How has it or will it impact you?
DW: PRO members improve vehicles. Vehicle owners end up with a unique vehicle that they love even more after being restyled. It's a cool piece of the automotive industry that makes people feel good. Being able to work with PRO members to find ways to increase awareness of restyling and improve their businesses allows me to learn and put my skills to good use. It feels good to give back to an industry that has given me a career.
SEMA: What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in the automotive aftermarket?
DW: I have two pieces of advice:
1. Learn everything you can about your specific business and about the various segments of the industry. It makes you smarter and allows you to move into different jobs.
2. Give back through participation in industry associations and local organizations. While the organization will benefit, what you get in return is so much more through an extended network and knowledge.
SEMA: What is your dream vehicle and where would we find you in it on the weekend?
DW: My dream car would be a late ’80s Mercedes Benz 560 SL. I love to drive fast, so highways and back-country roads that take me to the beach are where you would find me.
SEMA: What is the best advice you have ever received?
DW: Trust yourself to make the decisions that are best for you. It’s ok to listen to advice, but don't make decisions based on what you think you should do or what others expect from you.
SEMA: What keeps you in the industry?
DW: The people and the constant challenge to do better keep me in this industry. The automotive industry is filled with people who care. They care enough to help individuals, support scholarships and give their personal time to support industry initiatives.