By Ashley Reyes
The SEMA Wheel and Tire Council (WTC) has named Steve Swanson of the The Carlstar Group/Cragar Wheels as the council’s newest volunteer spotlight member. A current WTC Select Committee volunteer and previous SEMA Board member, Swanson brings more than 35 years of experience in the automotive aftermarket and nearly a decade of active involvement with the association.
Read how volunteering for SEMA has influenced his career in his Q&A with the WTC.
SEMA: What led you to obtaining a career in the wheel and tire industry?
Steve Swanson: Honestly, I was brought in by one of my dearest friends and mentor Murray Diamond in 1979. Murray had been my district manager while we were both at Chief Auto Parts in the early ’70s, and I apparently impressed him enough to suggest to Don Turney, then national sales manager at Keystone Wheel and Murray’s new boss, to offer me a job as inside sales manager with Keystone Wheel in Ontario, California.
SEMA: How has being a WTC volunteer or member impacted your professional career?
SS: Well, it most obviously has kept me employed. One of my close associations while on the SEMA Board of Directors in the early 2000s was with George Finch—a WTC (at that time, WIC) Select Committee member. After walking away from direct employment in the wheel industry to become an independent rep, I still maintained my connection through the Board of Directors work as the WIC Board liaison. Through that direct association, George and I developed a friendship that eventually led him to suggest me for my current position of national sales manager of the Styled Wheel Division at The Carlstar Group (Cragar/Black Rock/Unique).
SEMA: What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in the wheel and tire segment?
SS: Bring passion for the automobile, a deep interest in style and a willingness to put in the hours.
SEMA: Where can we find you on a Saturday?
SS: At a Goodguys or NSRA event hawking our brand(s), out working in the yard, riding my BMW K1600GTLE motorcycle or chasing the grandkids around a park somewhere.