SEMA Member News—July 2019

Rob Fisher Takes the Helm and Charts a Forward Path

Rob FisherRob Fisher from will be taking over as Chair of MPMC, two years earlier in his current position.

In today’s ever-evolving market, it’s critical that SEMA members have a chance to weigh in on issues that influence and impact the specialty-equipment market, and one of the most effective ways to have a voice is through participation in a SEMA council. For companies engaged in the motorsports segment, the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) provides that opportunity, but the success of any SEMA council or network is reliant on volunteers—industry pros who raise their hands and express their willingness to become actively involved. That description neatly fits Rob Fisher.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Fisher holds a degree in professional writing and graphics as well as in business administration. A career media pro with a passion for motorsports, he previously held key positions with Source Interlink Media/The Enthusiast Network, during which time he regularly attended the MPMC Media Trade Conference.

That, in turn, sparked a desire to become involved in MPMC. As a media guy, Fisher didn’t meet the criteria as a manufacturer of performance parts used in sanctioned racing applications, but that changed when he joined E3 Spark Plugs as vice president of motorsports and marketing.

In 2016, Fisher tossed his hat into the ring and was elected to the council’s select committee. Reelected last year and chosen to serve as the chair-elect, Fisher recently leapfrogged over the traditional council leadership progression to jump into the chairmanship with both feet.

SEMA Member News recently caught up with Fisher to gain insights into his thoughts on volunteering and his goals and aspirations for MPMC and the motorsports industry.

SEMA Member News: Tell us how you became involved in MPMC and vaulted into the role of council chair.

Rob Fisher: I had always gone to the media conference as a media guy. I was familiar with the council because of that conference. I thought that I’d love to be part of MPMC if there were ever a time that I wasn’t working for the media. Lo and behold, I was eligible to run for the select committee when E3 Spark Plugs decided to build a racing division.

When I went through the election process, I thought I would do a term on the select committee and then run for chair-elect. When I won a second term, I ran for chair-elect. I was supposed to be the chair-elect for two years beginning in July. But with our (incoming) chair leaving to meet work obligations, there was a hole. So I raised my hand and stepped up. It wasn’t “Oh, no, I need more time.” My mentality is that if we’re going to do something, just do it.

SMN: You’ve been in the unique position of attending the trade conference as a media representative and as a participating manufacturer. What are your thoughts regarding the conference?

RF: When I was media, the conference was always one of my favorite events because I could get a year’s worth of stories in just a few days. Sitting on the other side, to get a year’s worth of editorial out of those meetings with the media is so valuable for the companies that are there. But we’re also looking at what we’ve already established as a foundation and building upon that. We did a push this year to encourage more media to come to the conference. There were 22 new media, all from the digital realm.

The opportunity for MPMC members lies in tapping into that group of people. With the consolidation in the print industry, we have to continue to morph the conference into something that will continue to be valuable not just currently but also five years down the road.

SMN: MPMC offers its members other resources. What can you tell us about those initiatives?

RF: Speaking from the outside looking in, people who weren’t involved in the council tended to identify MPMC as the trade conference. They didn’t realize that MPMC is more than that.

The first thing we did was put together this great “MPMC Business Guidelines Manual,” and it has helped a lot members. But we recognized that the industry is made up of small businesses that don’t typically have a ton of resources. When we updated the manual, we released it last year to everybody—any SEMA manufacturer—and we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback.

We continue to look at how we can help the membership. We’ve started doing seminars at the PRI Trade Show, and we’re planning an event for this year. We’re also looking at a PRI membership drive because we can build different programs through new membership.

SMN: SEMA held a council leadership retreat earlier this year. What was your impression and was it helpful in preparing for your new role?

RF: I thought it was super valuable—very conducive to collaborative meetings and conversations with people you don’t normally interact with. Any time you get into collaborative work environments and strategic brainstorming, seeing what different councils are doing and what your council could be doing is very valuable.

In our council’s case, we’re all executive level, so you have a certain methodology as to how you manage people and projects. The biggest learning experience for me was seeing firsthand how you interact with SEMA as an organization. It’s a different relationship from the organizational hierarchy structure that you find in a for-profit company.

SMN: Looking down the road, what do you see lying ahead for MPMC?

RF: Changes are coming to our industry, both governmentally and from the OEMs. More technically advanced powertrains, hybrid solutions and driverless cars will significantly impact our industry and our businesses. So making sure that MPMC is strong, relevant and a forward-thinking council now and in the future is my big focus.

As chairman, I’ll continue to build on the great work that’s been done. We have a very strong select committee, with some old members and some new members. You’ll see a lot of good things come out of MPMC in the next four to six years. I’m excited.

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