SEMA News—February 2017


By Mike Imlay

Tim Martin

SEMA Person of the Year

Tim Martin
Tim Martin, K&N chief operations officer and SEMA Board of Directors member, thanked an audience of more than 2,500 who had gathered for the annual SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet, where he was named the association’s Person of the Year for 2016. The award is among SEMA’s highest honors.

The core mission of SEMA is to help its members succeed and prosper, and a spirit of volunteerism permeates that mission. To grow the automotive specialty-equipment industry and address the broad range of issues facing association members, SEMA continues to rely on the vision and leadership of dedicated individuals from every industry segment who give freely of their time and energy for the benefit of all. In that spirit each year, SEMA bestows its highest honor—the Person of the Year Award—on an individual who embodies the association’s mission. For 2016, that person is Tim Martin of K&N Engineering.

Martin received his award at the 2016 SEMA Show Industry Banquet in Las Vegas. The award recognizes its recipient’s outstanding contributions to the specialty-equipment industry over the course of a year. For consideration, an honoree must work in a SEMA-member company and exhibit professionalism, service, integrity and an ethic that helps propel the industry forward.

Martin served many years as a vice president of K&N and was recently made the company’s chief operations officer. His passion for racing, performance and the street-car culture also led him to seek a place on the SEMA Board of Directors.

“SEMA is proud to honor Tim Martin as our 2016 Person of the Year,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “In both his leadership capacities at K&N and on our SEMA Board of Directors, he has become known as a knowledgeable and trusted voice on the business and technological issues that are reshaping the specialty-equipment marketplace. His initiative, leadership and advocacy of industry causes continues to drive us all forward, making a positive impact on SEMA members in ways too many to count.”

Martin’s ongoing involvement with SEMA has included not only outstanding service on the SEMA Board of Directors but also service on a wide range of task forces and committees. Most recently, that has included membership in the SEMA Youth Engagement Task Force and SEMA Garage Advisory Group—two organizations that are addressing key SEMA initiatives. He also currently serves as chairman of the Next Gen work group. In all of these endeavors, his judgment and experience have made him a valued mentor and a respected resource to Board and committee newcomers.

Tim Martin
Prior Person of the Year honorees Rich Barsamian (left, 2014) of Advanced Clutch Technology and Kathryn Reinhardt (2015) of MagnaFlow congratulated Martin backstage after he received his honors at the industry banquet in Las Vegas. The handing off of the award from one Person of the Year to another has become an annual SEMA Show tradition.

Through it all, Martin has brought a unique career background to his work. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in management from the University of Southern California. His proficiency with business technology and digital marketing made him a most valuable player on SEMA’s Business Tech Committee and led to his five years of service on the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) board of directors. Thanks in considerable measure to his insights, the SDC this past year reached two extraordinary membership milestones: more than 300 suppliers representing 500 different brands, and nearly 1,000 receiver companies reaching tens of thousands of wholesale, retail and internet resellers.

Since joining K&N Engineering in 1997, Martin has managed different departments touching on nearly every facet of aftermarket business, including sales and marketing, manufacturing, purchasing, warehousing, shipping, software development, product data, e-commerce, software development and information technology. Before K&N, Martin was an engineering project manager for the U.S. Navy and a software consultant to a variety of industries. He grew up in Missouri before moving to California, where he now resides in Riverside with his wife Kristen and their four children, Kevin, Jenna, Kyle and Sean.

“The person we’re honoring with tonight’s award could be described in three words: He’s building us,” summed up Jessi Combs, who, along with Dennis Pittsenbarger, emceed the annual Industry Awards Banquet on Thursday evening of the 2016 SEMA Show. “Industry folks and members of the association describe him as someone who works tirelessly; a man who freely gives of his time and resources, stepping up whenever a leader is needed, including for youth engagement and legislative issues. But he does it for his love of the industry, not to be honored ... His generous involvement and superb contributions reflect the very special qualifications this award demands.”

“It is a great honor to be recognized as the 2016 SEMA Person of the Year,” Martin said upon receiving the award. “It has been a privilege to work with the SEMA leadership team on many issues that matter to all SEMA members. I could not volunteer without the support of the team at K&N and my wife and family. SEMA has many hard-working volunteers, and our industry is filled with talented people. Working with SEMA staff and volunteers has been a rewarding experience for me. This is an industry full of people who love what they do. The work that SEMA is doing is very important to the future of our industry and the automotive lifestyle. I am very thankful to be involved with SEMA and to be recognized as playing a part in our accomplishments on behalf of SEMA members.”

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