People Places & Racing News

National Volunteer Appreciation Week: Creating Tangible Results During an Unprecedented Year

By Ashley Reyes

SEMA volunteers played a key role in many of the programs, services
and events that were introduced this past year, including
reintroducing in-person events such as the industry happy hour at the
recent Keystone BIG Show in Grapevine, Texas. With safety guidelines
in place, volunteers from TORA, SBN, and YEN guided SEMA staff on
the promotion, planning and execution of the event.

Volunteers are essential to SEMA and the industry throughout the year, even more so during the past year as businesses struggled to keep their doors open and contend with confusing federal and state regulations impacting their day-to-day operations.

It’s during this challenging time, however, that SEMA volunteers stepped outside the box to dedicate their time, knowledge and expertise to helping the industry. Volunteers worked with SEMA staff to develop new business resources and modify existing programs to ensure that they would meet the industry’s needs.

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 18–24), SEMA is recognizing the contributions of the volunteer groups and individuals who have given so much to the industry.

“Amidst a trying year, hundreds of volunteers continued to donate their time and efforts to helping the industry,” said SEMA Vice President of Councils and Membership Nathan Ridnouer. “By providing creative solutions to solve unprecedented situations, the industry continued to flourish and succeed.”

Many of the new ideas that resulted during the pandemic were developed from volunteers. For example:

After a full year of being unable to gather in-person, volunteers from the Truck and Off-Road Industry Alliance (TORA) partnered with volunteers from the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) and SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) to host an in-person networking event at the Keystone Big Show in Grapevine, Texas. The event was followed by a trail-run and networking event at Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, allowing truck and off-road professionals to connect for the first time in months.

SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) volunteers are working to provide aspiring young professionals with high-quality leadership training. The select committee recently hosted a focus group, where the accredited training association Dale Carnegie shared “Five Drivers of Success” with YEN members and  SEMA Board members.

Earlier this year, Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) volunteers held the first ever Virtual Media Trade Conference. The event connected motorsports journalists with leading motorsports manufacturers and offered them the opportunity to gather content and conduct interviews to use in stories and posts that will reach consumers from all over the world.

SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) volunteers fully embraced virtual education and community building by hosting 10 virtual education sessions and three virtual networking/community building events within four months, and more scheduled throughout the year. Through four different virtual education series, the SBN continues to be a resource for women in the industry to advance their careers while also creating community through interactive breakout groups.

Both the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) and Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) have been hosting virtual general membership meetings since mid-2020, making it easier than ever for members across the country to participate. The volunteers have found such value in holding meetings in this new format that they will continue to do so even as in-person events return.

Additional programs that also resulted from volunteers include the launch of the seven-part “Wheel and Tire Industry Insights” webinar series, powered by the SEMA Wheel and Tire Council (WTC); the SEMA Emerging Trends & Technology (ETTN) Member Insight program, which provided an outlet for ETTN members to share technology tips for overcoming the pandemic; the SEMA Cares #MotorsoundChallenge on social media; and the “Industry Talks: Back to Business—Rebuilding Partnerships and Operations, Powered by the SEMA Professional Restylers Organization (PRO)” virtual panel discussion.

Councils“During the pandemic, SEMA volunteers showed passion and commitment to build a stronger community for our members,” said SEMA Council and Network Director Nicole Bradle. “Through their leadership, SEMA councils and networks created and implemented resources over the past year to provide professional education and create networking outlets and opportunities for members to engage with their peers.”

Shining Star Volunteers:

  • Jonathan Barber, Bob Cook Sales
  • Tyson Boyer, Dill Air Controls
  • Tiffany Dorin, Battery Biz Inc.
  • Mike Hallmark, Hellwig Products
  • Allision Harding, Vintage Air
  • Mike Lusso, Hennessy Industries
  • Colby McLaughlin, Trim Illusion, Inc.
  • Jerid Suchy, SCT Performance​