SEMA News—April 2012

By Dan Sadowski

Congressional District Site Visit Program Cruises Into Northern Michigan

HRIA Select Committee Member Hosts Congressman Dan Benishek

  Congressman Dan Benishek, Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts
Classic Instruments owner John McLeod (left) and General Manager Ron Hanna (third from left) welcome Rep. Dan Benishek (second from left), Boyne City Manager Mike Cain (second from right), and Boyne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann to their headquarters showroom. 
The 2010 Congressional elections provided a sweeping change throughout the country. More than 70 new members of Congress were elected, and control of the House of Representatives switched parties. SEMA members in northern Michigan recently had the opportunity to meet their new representative, Congressman Dan Benishek, during a SEMA-sponsored Congressional District Site Visit at Classic Instruments.
Based in Boyne City, Michigan, Classic Instruments manufactures custom gauges and dials for classic cars, hot rods and racing vehicles. In 2010, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm named Classic Instruments one of “Michigan’s 50 Companies to Watch,” highlighting its capacity for growth, entrepreneurial spirit and positive impact on the local community. Classic Instruments owner John McLeod is a member of the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) select committee.

Rep. Dan Benishek was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2010 to represent the 1st District, which covers most of northeast Michigan, including all of the Upper Peninsula. Prior to his election, Rep. Benishek served as a general surgeon in private practice from 1983 to 2011. He has also worked part time for the past 20 years at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain, Michigan. In Congress, Rep. Benishek serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“Having the opportunity to meet and talk with Rep. Benishek was wonderful,” McLeod said. “I now have a better understanding and feel more comfortable sharing my opinion or asking questions of my elected officials. It does matter, and my vote does count!”

As a new member of Congress, Rep. Benishek was enthusiastic about visiting Classic Instruments’ headquarters and learning more about the success of the small businesses in his district. He also had a chance to meet other influential members of the local community. Boyne City Manager Mike Cain and Boyne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann participated in the visit.

  Congressman Dan Benishek, Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts
SEMA Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski (far right) and the Classic Instruments staff gathered at the end of the tour to thank Rep. Benishek (center rear) for visiting the shop and supporting small businesses in Washington.
“Small businesses like Classic Instruments are the engines that drive Northern Michigan’s economy,” Rep. Benishek said. “It was a pleasure to visit their facility last year and learn more about ways that federal policy can help their business continue to grow and hire more employees.”

McLeod, General Manager Ron Hanna and their team provided a tour of Classic Instruments’ facility, including an impressive collection of limited-edition collector vehicles. Many of the vehicles on display in the showroom were either custom builds by Classic employees or included Classic Instruments products in their restorations. Also in the shop was a custom 1935 Chevy that McLeod drove to the 2011 SEMA Show.

The company’s corporate offices were part of the tour, and Rep. Benishek met with many of the employees and chatted about classic cars and upcoming projects. From these offices, Classic’s employees handle every step of each custom order from start to finish. Many of the orders received include highly customized features, which can be personalized to suit the customer’s individual preferences.

Rep. Benishek observed how each order is designed to exact specifications on a computer and sent to special machines devised to complete each item. In addition to the custom orders, Classic Instruments offers several product lines for classic vehicles. Classic’s new Sky Drive, an electric speedometer sending unit that uses GPS satellite signals to operate a vehicle’s speedometer, was honored with a 2011 SEMA Show New Product of the Year award.

  Congressman Dan Benishek, Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts
Rep. Benishek talks cars with owner and HRIA Select Committee member John McLeod in the Classic Instruments shop. McLeod drove the 1935 Chevy (on lift) to the 2011 SEMA Show from northern Michigan.
Rep. Benishek was also shown Classic Instruments’ machine shop, which is one of the few remaining manually operated shops in the region. Benishek was impressed to hear that Classic opens its doors to local high schools and community colleges to help train students preparing for future careers. At the end of the tour, Rep. Benishek discussed local economic matters and pledged to continue his support of local small businesses in Washington.

Before Rep. Benishek departed, John McLeod and Haili Friedrich, Classic Instruments’ graphic and advertising specialist, presented him with a special plaque that included a custom “Made in Michigan” speedometer gauge. Benishek was impressed with the craftsmanship of the handmade plaque and promised to display it in his office.

“I encourage all SEMA members to get involved, not only by paying your dues but by using the association’s resources such as the Congressional District Site Visit Program,” said McLeod. “As a SEMA member, if you make the effort and ask the questions, you will find that SEMA really works on your behalf.”

The Congressional District Site Visit Program is overseen by SEMA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Given that members of Congress will be in their home district more often during 2012, companies interested in hosting an event with their elected officials are encouraged to contact SEMA Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski via e-mail at or by phone at 202-783-6007, Ext. 19.

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