SEMA News—January 2014
By Linda Spencer
Global Participation at the 2013 SEMA Show
In the next issue of SEMA News, we will look at other international activities held at the 2013 SEMA Show, including coverage of the international journalists who served on the Global Media Award panel.
These leading media outlets from 20 countries were charged with selecting the top 10 products each believed would sell best in their home markets. We will explore insights into their vehicle customization markets and their reasons for their selections.
The following gallery showcases international snapshots from the SEMA Show.
Chinese, Russian and Middle East Market Roundtables
The day before the SEMA Show opened was very busy for exhibitors. They not only had to set up their booths but also participated in the wide variety of educational programs offered throughout the day.
The SEMA international department sponsored three roundtables covering promising emerging markets: China, Russia and the Middle East.
SEMA Vice President of OEM and Product Development Programs Mike Spagnola (far right) briefed U.S. Department of Commerce officials who visited the SEMA Garage booth to hear about the great demand for the Toyota HiLux (pictured) and the Ford Ranger T6. SEMA imported the two vehicles to the United States so that association members could measure these hard-to-obtain vehicles in order to make export-ready products. This program is made possible through SEMA’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Member companies wishing to join the nearly 180 companies that have already measured one or both vehicles are urged to contact Mike Spagnola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The seminar on the Russian market was the second of three roundtables on promising international markets. Buyers came from Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as from nearby Ukraine. “I really enjoyed the interactions of buyers and sellers, and I’m glad it was structured in the manner it was,” said Luke Rood, international account manager of Texas-based XPEL Technologies Corp. “Hearing the issues our international customers had opened my eyes to their difficulties and stimulated some new ideas for solutions. What a pleasant surprise it was to be involved in actual conversation with buyers and sellers versus listening to a lecture. I couldn’t take notes fast enough!”
International Happy Hour
This year marked the 10th SEMA International Happy Hour. It has become the largest international networking event for the industry, with more than 1,000 exhibitors and international buyers in attendance.
The International Happy Hour marked the second year that the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) used the SEMA Show as the venue to provide its Export Achievement Awards to SEMA members that have made impressive gains in international sales. The 2013 winners were Royal Purple, Stillwater/Kicker, Keystone Automotive Operations, Gibson, Dee Zee, McSweeney Designs and Radflo Suspension Technology. U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Chandra Brown (top left) presented the awards. On the top row far right was SEMA Chairman Nate Shelton. Noted one of the winners CEO Glenn Classen of Radflo: “Receiving the DOC Export Achievement award certainly highlights the opportunities provided by both SEMA and the DOC. By taking parts in the SEMA programs, Radflo has been able to make contact with companies we would usually not be able to interact with. We have experienced excellent growth in our export markets. Added DeeZee’s Vice President Jason Mrachina: “Dee Zee is honored to be recognized by with the DOC Export Achievement Award. Our company met with a record number of export customers at this year’s SEMA Show. The international buyers in our booth were excited about our products and willing to place orders. Jeffrey Hunter from McSweeney also weighed in. “We are grateful beyond words to have our export initiatives celebrated in this manner and look forward to working alongside SEMA and the DOC in an even greater capacity going forward to gain and sustain further momentum for the sale of our pinnacle quality, American-made products to emerging markets and hot-spot regions around the globe.”
U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Chandra Brown (right) chatted with Jim Hildibrand of Coker Tire during a tour of companies that have participated in SEMA’s Middle East and/or China programs. These low-cost programs allow members to network with pre-vetted buyers and exhibit at a local event. Through a partnership with the U.S. DOC, qualified U.S. participants are eligible for grants to defray the costs of participating. Coker Tire participated on the 2013 SEMA trip to the Middle East.
The International Happy Hour is an extremely popular informal event that takes place on Wednesday during SEMA Show week, immediately after the Show closes for the day.
Exhibitors, buyers and international media stop by for a libation and some conversation. The venue is also scene of the Global Media Award presentations and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) Export Achievement Awards.
A number of exhibitors spent from 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on the day before the opening of the SEMA Show attending three roundtables on the Russian, Middle East and Chinese markets.
Lunch was provided to enable networking during the breaks.
Mark Habicht (left foreground), a spring manufacturer based in Baltimore, Maryland, and Kevin Floody (blue shirt center
A group of SEMA members who had participated on one or more SEMA trips abroad and are successfully selling abroad took time out of their busy schedules during the SEMA Show to meet with senior U.S. government officials, including Chandra Brown (third from right). Sitting across from her was Dan Green (third from left in striped shirt), the director of the U.S. Trade Facilitation Office in China. Also attending was Eduard Rotyberg (white shirt next to Brown), senior international trade specialist and global automotive team leader for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Liz Couch (red jacket), international economist with the U.S. Department of Commerce auto team.
Some of the participants in the U.S.-Middle East roundtable posed for a picture. In the center in the black and white shirt was Chandra Brown, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Next to her in the blue suit was Saif Al Midfa, director of the Sharjah Expo Center and the organizer of the Middle East Motor Tuning Show (MEMTS), which features vehicle customization. SEMA is organizing a trip to the region for members. It is scheduled for March 11–14 and will include exhibiting at the MEMTS. For more information visit www.sema.org/middleeast.
In addition to networking with global buyers at the International Happy Hour, exhibitors had the chance to meet with the 35 international journalists from 19 countries. The journalists were selected to serve as Global Media Award judges and charged with picking 10 products from the New Products Showcase that they believed would sell best in their home markets. Peter Liklitov (left) of Polny Privod 4x4 and fellow Russian journalist Andrey Sudbin (right) from Offroad Drive participated. Next month’s SEMA News international column will feature interviews with Liklitov, Sudbin and their fellow journalists from key global markets.