Councils & Networks

TORA Volunteer Spotlight: Kirstin Backes of COBB Tuning

By SEMA News Editors

The SEMA Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA) has named Kirstin Backes, sales andTORA Kirstin Backes marketing program manager at COBB Tuning, as the council's newest spotlight volunteer. Get to know Backes in her interview with SEMA News below.  

SEMA News: What inspired you to pursue a career in the truck and off-road industry? 

Kirstin Backes: I grew up in a family that pursued motorsports all over the board, including off-roading and desert racing. While I did have some fun on the dragstrip and worked in the more "traditional" performance/hot-rod space for years, I found myself drawn more towards off-road adventure in my personal life. Ultimately, I want to help make modifying your truck--whether it's on- or off-road--more accessible and fun for other enthusiasts like me. 

SEMA News: Why did you decide to volunteer for TORA?  

KB: As a long-time industry volunteer, volunteering with TORA was a no-brainer. It's important to keep the voice of both enthusiasts and professionals in different parts of the aftermarket in the ear of the association at the board level and beyond, and working with TORA is a great way to do it. For me, that means keeping the focus of the association (and the Show) on where the aftermarket is going without sacrificing the legacy that got us here. I also think it's a great way to make sure that the interests of truck and off-road-focused enthusiasts and businesses are fairly represented when we're facing legislative challenges in things like land use, which can be missed when our market segments get overlooked. 

SN: What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in the automotive aftermarket?  

KB: Don't be afraid to engage with SEMA beyond the Show in October and November. Get to as many networking events as you can, and get to know the people who work in the aftermarket outside the walls of your own company. It's changed my career trajectory entirely, and I've been lucky to make some great friends along the way.

SN: What is your dream truck or off-road vehicle?  

KB: I recently purchased a long-time dream truck of mine--a Toyota Tundra--and I'm loving it more and more with every drive. So far, it's only done the long road trip home and some local exploration in the southeast, but I'm looking forward to a week or so in the desert soon! 

Fill out a TORA-member spotlight form to highlight how you or your company are contributing to the truck and off-road specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are eligible to be featured on TORA's social media, SEMA News and future TORA member updates.