SEMA News - February 2010


SEMA Chairman Rick Rollins (left) and PWA President Donnie Eatherly (right) recognize PWA Persons of the Year Chris Thomson (second from left) and Adrian Murray.

Every year, the Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) announces its Manufacturer and Person of the Year awards at the SEMA Show. This year, PWA selected a duo in each category, naming Airaid Filter Company’s Chris Thomson and Adrian Murray of Painless Performance its Persons of the Year. PWA also recognized Airaid and K&N Engineering as its Manufacturers of the Year. The award winners shared their gratitude with the industry that helped them achieve their recognition.

“K&N is honored to have been voted Manufacturer of the Year by the members of the Performance Warehouse Association,” said Steve Rogers, president and CEO of K&N Engineering. “There are many great manufacturers in our industry, and it is a great accomplishment to be identified as one of the best. The last few years have been challenging for our industry, and we have tried to be a good supplier and listen to our customers. We’ve continued to expand our product line while making improvements in quality, shipping performance and customer service. K&N has continued to work to generate business for our dealers with one of the most extensive marketing and advertising programs in the industry. In 2009, we made more than 1 million consumer referrals to local K&N brick-and-mortar dealers. This award is the result of the work and dedication of the entire K&N team as well as the support of our suppliers, distributors and retail dealers. We thank PWA for this award.”

Adrian Murray, president of Painless Performance, said that he was “…deeply honored to have been recognized as Person of the Year by the Performance Warehouse Association and also to share this honor with my good friend, Chris Thomson. I am very mindful of the fact that it takes a lot of people in the background doing very great things in order for me to receive this type of recognition. We have a superb team at Painless who never hesitate to go the extra mile and put forth that extra effort to ensure the success of the company; they make my job very easy. To the members of PWA—and indeed to all of our customers and friends—thank you for this honor. I will always strive to live up to the ideals and the principles this award represents.”

Chris Thomson accepted both the Person of the Year award and the Manufacturer of the Year award on behalf of Airaid.

“We’d like to thank the members of PWA for this distinguished Manufacturer of the Year Award,” Thomson said. “During these tough economic times, it is an honor to be recognized with this award. We gladly accept it and take it as a challenge to continue performing at the highest level.”

About his Person of the Year award Thomson added: “Thank you members of the PWA for this true honor. I was proud to be considered alongside my friends Rick Sparks and Adrian Murray, both of whom I admire greatly. I also want to thank my boss and friend John Levitz and everyone at Airaid for their everyday support of my efforts, and most of all, my wife Kathie and daughters Kristin and Emily for their understanding of the passion and time that I put into my job.”


SEI Manufacturer Product Library—The One-Stop Info Shop to Close the Sale at the Counter

Join SEMA’s Manufacturer Product Library (MPL) to take advantage of a no-cost resource that will promote your brand and your products.

What Is it? Located at, the MPL is a repository of manufacturers’ marketing, product and training materials. Presented in searchable databases, the MPL will help retailers/resellers become more familiar with your product and brand while giving them the tools they need to close the sale immediately. Examples of marketing materials include product-demonstration videos, warranty information, product images, sales brochures, installation instructions and others.

What’s the Cost? SEMA-member manufacturers can participate in this program at no charge.

What’s the Benefit? Reach a greater number of jobbers, warehouse distributors and enthusiasts through this online product-information program. Reduce your printed material costs by uploading your marketing and support materials to the library. Get the information quickly to the people who need it the most, and help them close sales on your products faster! Contact SEI at 913/851-3355 or to get started today.


Linda Vaughn: SBN Recognizes First Lady of Motorsports

The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Linda Vaughn, a founding member of the SBN, at the annual SEMA Speed Networking Breakfast—Powered by the SBN, in recognition of Vaughn’s lifelong participation and exceptional achievements within the automotive aftermarket.

Vaughn may well be the most traveled ambassador of motorsports in the United States, visiting more racetracks, race events and race honorariums than anyone in the sport. She is in demand because generations of people—men and women—have searched her out in a crowd, and she has a singular way of bringing focus to a worthwhile product, cause or person. This was never more apparent than during her tour of military bases in Vietnam, when she accompanied Don Garlits and Richard Petty to encourage the troops overseas.

Vaughn began her career as a beauty queen in 1961, and she carried the title of Miss Pontiac the following year. She used her assets—wit, intelligence and a natural curiosity and love of motorsports—to nudge into a mostly male domain and became a valued spokesperson and representative of one of the largest aftermarket companies in the United States. For years, Vaughn was Ms. Hurst Golden Shifter, working side by side with the parent company and the top executives of Mr. Gasket Company to promote one of its most valued brands. She was part beauty and part brains, and in the ’60s, this was a perfect formula for getting attention and paving a road for women to participate in all aspects of the aftermarket. She was successful because of her drive to be a part of this industry in a big way, and she was not content to rest on her laurels as a beauty queen.

Vaughn has endured and changed, but she has always remained a staunch supporter of the vitality of motorsports in all of its forms, and she has been an endearing friend to the people whom she has met along the way. Jim Feeman, director of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama, once commented, “Lots of people consider Linda to be the First Lady of Racing. She is the only female non-racer who continually gets votes to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.”

In 1988, SEMA honored Vaughn’s lifetime achievements with a special citation during its “Salute to the American Automotive Performance & Motorsports Industry” program in Washington, D.C. She is a respected member of the SEMA Hall of Fame and is beloved by many all over the world.


Fast Facts

  John Passante

Automotive aftermarket executive, trainer and inspirational speaker John Passante has joined Brenton Productions Inc. as executive vice president. He will continue his role as president of The Organizational Development Group Inc. as he assists Brenton Productions in its production of automotive series for national TV networks. Prior to this appointment, Passante was senior vice president for CarQuest, senior vice president of human resources for Moog Automotive and senior director worldwide human resources for Delphi Products and Service Solutions. Brenton Productions Inc., Swansea, MA; 800/572-7798.

Vortex Splash Guards Technologies Inc., developers and patent holders of what the company says is the world’s first aerodynamic (air routing) mud guards, has recently designed a memorandum of understanding with Papp Plastics to manufacture and distribute to the OEM accounts. Vortex said that, in addition to stealth styling, the technology affords fuel savings and other performance advantages over existing designs. Vortex partnered with Hopkins Manufacturing in 2007 to service the aftermarket. Hopkins has had great success garnering sales through retailers, such as O’Reilly Auto Parts and a recent launch with Pep Boys. Hopkins Manufacturing, Emporia, KS; 620/342-7320.

  Heath Breedlove
Heath Breedlove joined Beck/Arnley as its new vice president of retail and program group sales. In this position, Breedlove calls on and facilitates sales growth with program groups and retailer customers. Prior to joining Beck/Arnley, Breedlove served as regional director of store sales for General Parts Inc., where he managed sales activities for more than 20 CarQuest Auto Parts stores’ corporate sales.

Tire Group International opened a new sales office in Houston, Texas. The new office is headed by Tom Wilbur, who joined the company with more than 12 years of experience in the tire industry.

JATO Dynamics appointed David Di Girolamo business development manager for the retail sector. Before joining JATO, Di Girolamo was instrumental in the development and management of performance improvement programs for dealers and importers globally, including Volkswagen group, Peugeot and Toyota.

Jotto Desk and Snugtop announced a new distribution agreement allowing Snugtop to offer the Jotto-Cargo Slide line of cargo-management products through its dealer network in conjunction with Snugtop products. The agreement fills a distribution gap for Jotto-Cargo Slide on the West Coast while providing new sales opportunities for existing Snugtop dealers. Jotto Desk, Rogers, AR; 479/936-8059. Snugtop, Long Beach, CA; 562/432-5454.

Philips Automotive Lighting North America, a division of Royal Philips Electronics, appointed Dave Illes as its senior sales manager for the North American automotive aftermarket. He will be responsible for all sales channels and customers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Prior to joining Philips, Illes spent 10 years with Tenneco Inc., working in both Canada and the United States in a variety of sales management and operations roles.

  Rollin Hansen
Rollin Hansen of Auto Tech and Body in Roselle, Illinois, was named the Tech-Net Professional Auto Service/ASE Master Automotive Technician of the Year for 2009. Hansen will receive more than $20,000 worth of prizes, including an all-expense-paid trip for two to the ASE board meeting, where he will be presented with a trophy and a gold ring.

The American International Automobile Dealers Association announced a new affinity partnership with Financial Transaction Services to provide dealer members with exclusive pricing on end-to-end payment processing solutions for credit, debit, electronic benefit transfer, gift card/loyalty, biometric authentication and automated clearinghouse check processing. American International Automobile Dealers Association, Alexandria, VA; 703/519-7800.

Continental Tire and Hoosier Racing Tire announced a strategic alliance that will allow both companies to drive new growth prospects and technologies and have the potential to transform a variety of motorsports platforms. The alliance will consist of Continental and Hoosier partnering for advanced performance solutions and motorsports integration. A team of industry veterans will be the driving force behind the collaborative marketing, product development and implementation process. Both companies will invest substantially into resources for the marketing, business development and delivery of specific products. Continental Tire, Charlotte, NC; 704/583-3900.

  John Hagan
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. hired John Hagan as senior director of sales operations. A 20-year veteran of the tire industry, Hagan will have full responsibility for the management of all Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.’s sales operations while reporting directly to the company’s president and CEO, Yasushi Takagi. Hagan’s tire industry experience includes serving as vice president of original-equipment sales for Pirelli Tire. Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. also hired Glen D. Watson as sales manager for the region that includes Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Watson previously worked for Toyo Tires from 1996–2001 in regional sales. Most recently, he worked for ABSCO Fireplace & Patio, providing retail support and training and serving as a retail coordinator. Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp., Cypress, CA; 714/236-2080.

R. L. Polk & Co. has renewed its corporate sponsorship of Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) for the 2010 event, set for Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare near Chicago. Under the agreement, R. L. Polk & Co. will present its prestigious Polk Inventory Efficiency Awards at GAAS 2010, marking the sixth year for the awards, which recognize and reward outstanding aftermarket companies for process improvements relative to inventory efficiency. R. L. Polk & Co., Southfield, MI; 248/728-7000.

  Phil and Jeremy Gerber
Phil and Jeremy Gerber of the Roadster Shop were presented with the Goodguys Trendsetter award at the 2009 SEMA Show. The award is presented annually to rising young talents in the realm of rod and custom car building. Past recipients of the Goodguys Trendsetter Award include Chip Foose, Troy Trepanier, Alan Johnson, Eric Peratt, Tim Strange, Dave Lane, Zane Cullen, Dean Livermore, Jesse Greening, Troy Ladd and J.F. Launier. Roadster Shop, Mundelein, IL; 847/742-1932.

Wyers Products Group Inc. recently entered into a marketing agreement with Pilot Automotive Inc. of City of Industry, California, to exclusively distribute Trimax Products to selected retailers and automotive chain stores. Pilot Automotive Inc., City of Industry, CA; 626/937-6988.


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