SEMA News - October 2009

Vice President of Councils & Membership

SEMA News: Can you briefly explain your role and the role of your department at SEMA?

Nathan Ridnouer: As the vice president of councils and membership, I have the enviable job of working closely with the  association’s core membership—our councils and networks—and determining the strategic direction of the organization in terms of benefits provided to members.

 Nathan Ridnouer, Vice President of Councils and Membership

SN: What are some of the challenges and opportunities that the association faces in terms of membership?

NR: Keeping member benefits in line with member needs. We must continue to strive to better understand our members’ needs and, in some cases, be out ahead of them in terms of what they need to help their businesses grow and prosper. In these days when companies are experiencing economic challenges, many are finding it harder to dedicate their time to organizations such as SEMA, so the association will have to change the way it delivers benefits.

Our newly redesigned website, is a great example of how products and services are being made available to our membership right at their fingertips. Members can download webinars for free instead of having to only attend the live event. Members can communicate with each other via our social networking platform built into the site or use one of our new group discussions to inquire about an innovative technology or solution for their businesses.

SN: How are the councils assisting their members in these challenging economic times?

NR: Our councils are producing innovative programs each day. Let’s take, for example, the third annual SEMA Internet Symposium that was held in Pasadena in early August as part of the association’s Leadership Days program. The more than 100 individuals who participated in this event, which was sponsored and hosted by the Street Performance Council (SPC), walked away with some of the best nuggets of information to take back to their companies and improve the way they use the Internet to enhance their businesses. They’ll not want to miss the 2010 event, where they’ll see an expanded lineup of speakers and topics.

SEMA also has a mentoring program. Thanks to the ladies of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN), the SEMA Mentoring Program pairs our young leaders with some of the greatest minds and innovators present in today’s specialty-equipment market. In an effort to expand the program, SBN will be working with the Young Executives Network to offer mentoring to the students who will be taking part in the upcoming SEMA Show. This is one of the single best efforts made by the association to bridge the gap between a student’s transition from education to his or her professional career.

There are so many other things that our councils do—events such as our Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Media Trade Conference held each January, the Manufacturers Rep conference held during the PWA Conference each September, and the Hot Rod Industry Alliance’s Education Day at the Hot Rod & Restoration Show during the Spring. Even campaigns such as “Take a Friend to a Race” or “Take a Kid to a Car Show” demonstrate how the councils are doing their part in giving back to the businesses that support our industry.

If any of the above sounds appealing, members should check out the council efforts online or call our council staff or me to discuss how you can get engaged in SEMA volunteering through our council efforts. This truly is an exciting time!

SN: Looking forward to the 2009 SEMA Show, what activities or programs do the councils have planned?

NR: Receptions, receptions and more receptions. Based on those five words, our readers might get the impression that we simply have parties on our minds. Sure, it’s the specialty-equipment market, so we do; however, we also know how to mix business and play.

Our receptions are some of the best-kept secrets at the annual SEMA Show. During these events, our councils and networks honor the industry’s top leaders and provide the absolute best networking opportunities during Industry Week in Las Vegas. It’s where old friendships are rekindled, new friendships are made and business partnerships are cultivated. Although more than 100,000 individuals attend the annual Show, fewer than 2% have the unique opportunity to attend one of these events. Everyone should strive to be there this year.

SN: What would you say to someone who is considering membership in SEMA?

NR: Did I mention that I get to work in one of the most exciting, vibrant industries—the automotive specialty-equipment market? As a relatively new SEMA staffer (just one-and-a-half years), I’m quickly learning that those individuals who make up our membership know how lucky they are to be in this industry. As a matter of fact, many have told me that they would still be in this industry—somehow, some way—even if they worked in healthcare, agriculture or another industry unrelated to the automotive specialty-equipment market.

Long story short, people join trade associations to be around and learn from individuals who have similar interests and needs. SEMA is no different, except that we believe we have a unique offering here. In addition to world-class benefits and volunteer engagement, we have the greatest collection of industry leaders and automotive enthusiasts in one place. Not so strangely, those individuals in the healthcare and agriculture industries are car nuts, too, and we often hear from them asking, “How can I join SEMA?”

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