SEMA News—October 2012

With Steve Campbell

A Few Minutes With Chuck Schwartz

The Chairman of ConvExx Talks About Priorities at the SEMA Show

  Chuck Schwartz has accrued many honors since becoming a trade show producer in 1976
Chuck Schwartz has accrued many honors since becoming a trade show producer in 1976. He was elected to the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2010 following nearly 30 years as the producer of the SEMA Show. 
Chuck and Susan Schwartz, both of whom are Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), are the driving forces behind ConvExx, the company that manages the SEMA Show. They bring more than 45 years of experience in exhibition production and management to the Show, and their company includes eight additional team members who carry CEM credentials.

Chuck Schwartz has accrued many honors since becoming a trade show producer in 1976. For instance, he was elected chairman of the International Association of Exhibitions & Events in 1999, served on the IAEE board of directors for seven years, received the IAEE Pinnacle Award and is an Auto International Association Hall of Fame winner. He was also elected to the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2010 following nearly 30 years as the producer of the SEMA Show.

The Schwartzes began producing the Show in 1982 as Epic Enterprises before creating ConvExx in 2001, and they have worked closely with SEMA staff to grow the Show into the complex and all-encompassing automotive extravaganza that it has become today. In fact, Chuck has attended every SEMA Show since its inception, first as a buyer, once as an exhibitor and then as the producer of the event.

ConvExx now produces and manages exhibitions, shows and conferences throughout the country, with services that include sales, marketing and logistics both before and during each event. We could think of no one better than Chuck Schwartz to quiz about what exhibitors, buyers and media should know in the run-up to the 2012 SEMA Show.

SEMA News: What is the first thing that exhibitors should do when they arrive to set up for the SEMA Show?

Chuck Schwartz: Assuming they’ve received their badges in the mail (which they can do by registering prior to October 8), the first priority for exhibitors is to find their booth location within the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). They should next check to ensure that all of their freight has arrived. If it hasn’t arrived yet, check with the closest service desk or floor managerfor assistance.

There are signs above every service desk that say “Services Available.” In the North Hall, the service desk is upstairs near Room N263C. In the Central Hall, the service desk is near the Ford booth but underneath the concourse (down the steps and through the doors beside the concession stands). In the upper and lower South Halls, the service desks can be found in the meeting rooms at the east end of each hall. Around the hall are concierges with portable tablets who can assist you in finding freight, checking or ordering services and assisting with Show information.

Freeman has the ability to look at most major carriers’ sites and help to track freight. Exhibitors should be sure that they have all of their freight tracking numbers with them when they arrive at the SEMA Show site, even if they don’t plan to set up that day.

  The SEMA Show—the world’s premier automotive trade event—has been housed in the Las Vegas Convention Center for three decades.
The SEMA Show—the world’s premier automotive trade event—has been housed in the Las Vegas Convention Center for three decades. Nobody knows the place better than ConvExx CEO Chuck Schwartz.
SN: What is Freeman? What services does it offer?

CS: Freeman is an exhibition service contractor, which means that it handles many of the services needed to set up and then dismantle a show. Freeman provides material handling, furniture, carpet, electrical, exhibit rentals, labor to set up pre-made booths and supply air, gas and other services to exhibitors.

Freeman staff can be found at the service desks along with representatives that can supply audio/visual equipment, telephones and Internet, floral arrangements and lead-retrieval systems.

SN: How can exhibitors get the best bang for their buck at this year’s SEMA Show?

CS: Be prepared. Order your electrical, furniture, lead retrieval and audio/visual equipment early to take advantage of the best discounts. Meet with your Show staff so they know what’s expected of them and what your company’s goals are. Know the Show Office phone number onsite (702-943-3505), and don’t be afraid to call and ask questions.

Show Management is willing to review your exhibit layout even before you arrive in Las Vegas and will advise you of any problems immediately so that you can fix them before you go, which is much less costly than fixing them onsite. We’ll also make suggestions on efficient and cost-effective materials to use.

SN: What is the most often missed opportunity for SEMA Show exhibitors?

CS: The Ideas Alive: Featuring the New Products Showcase and the Featured Product Showcase. The first product is free. Every buyer spends time in this area looking for the latest innovation that can make his or her business a success. Although the New Products Awards are billed as a contest, that’s not the most important feature of the Showcase. It’s the visibility to thousands of buyers and the media. The items entered in the Showcase can be shipped to the new products area before the Show and then be shipped back to the exhibitor’s office after the Show. For complete information about the Ideas Alive: Featuring the New Products Showcase, including shipping to and from the Show, go to and click on the link to the Rules & Guidelines.

SN: What is the hottest new program for exhibitors at the 2012 SEMA Show?

CS: We have new floorplan software on the SEMA Show website, and it provides exhibitors with a number of valuable features. Every exhibitor should be sure to go to the site ( and update their listing and products, as attendees can search by products as well as by company name and booth number.

SN: Where can buyers find information about the SEMA Show, such as exhibitor locations, educational opportunities and the answers to frequently asked questions?

CS: The SEMA Show website at has all the answers. It includes the interactive floorplan we talked about earlier as well as lists and descriptions of all the seminars, the ability to create calendars of events and lists of booths an attendee might wish to see. It’s got separate sections for exhibitors, attendees and media, with appropriate content for each category. It truly is a one-stop information library.

  The SEMA Show—the world’s premier automotive trade event—has been housed in the Las Vegas Convention Center for three decades. The floor of the SEMA Show may seem like a maze, but the electronic map available online is a great navigation tool and also provides contact information and descriptions of every exhibitor.
SN: How can buyers make the most out of their limited time with so many exhibitors to see?

CS: Use the calendar on the Show website,, to choose educational sessions and to locate priority exhibitors in advance of the Show. Be sure to visit the Ideas Alive: Featuring the New Products Showcase and Featured Products areas to find new products. Use the electronic scanners provided onsite to collect information and then visit the exhibitors whose products are relevant to your business. And be sure to read the pre-Show information in SEMA News so that you’ll know about Show highlights and exhibitor specials.

SN: How can buyers ensure that they locate all of the exhibitors that are pertinent to their market segments?

CS: Again, check to easily find every registered exhibitor. The exhibitor listings include not only contact information but also a company profile and product or service categories. Even those in the First Time & Featured Exhibitor sections are noted with the icon from their appropriate section, and there is also a link that allows you to search by section if you’re specifically looking for, say, restoration products or racing and performance products.

SN: What is the best new program for buyers at the 2012 SEMA Show?

CS: Use the calendar and interactive floorplan on to choose educational sessions and note exhibitors both before the Show and onsite. SEMA is working on a mobile app for Apple and Droid smartphones that will also provide search functions. It should be up by the time you read this.

SN: What is the most important thing that media attendees should know about covering the SEMA Show?

CS: The media need to become familiar with the Media Center, located on the Skybridge between the Central and South Halls. It contains not only computers with Internet connections and preloaded with common software, but also lounge areas, meeting rooms, a press room where many of the SEMA Show press conferences are held and a distribution area where exhibiting companies place a variety of press releases and other materials in both print and electronic formats. The Media Center is open throughout the Show, and there are always staff available there who can either answer frequently asked questions or get the answers quickly.

SN: Are there any post-Show programs that attendees, buyers or the media should be aware of?

CS: Attendees and exhibitors can track the companies they talked to through Buyer Connect from CompuSystems, which is listed in the exhibitor manual section of the Show website ( under Lead Retrieval Scanner Rental. A week or so after the SEMA Show, exhibitors will receive a list of the companies or individuals who swiped their cards at the exhibitors’ booths, and buyers will receive a list of the exhibitors whose booths they visited and where they swiped their cards for easy follow up.

Media should visit, which houses thousands of high-resolution images for download following the Show. The photos include not only all of the new products that were entered in the New Products Showcase—including exhibitor contact information—but also images of the display vehicles, many of the celebrities who attended, shots from press conferences and much more, and they’re all authorized for any legitimate press use.

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