SEMA News—December 2019


By Douglas McColloch

Middle East
The annual SEMA Middle East Business Development Program takes place in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, March 31–April 7, 2020. Members wishing to participate can visit to register.

Export Opportunity: Visit Two Important Markets With SEMA

Join SEMA on a trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), March 31–April 7, 2020, for the annual SEMA Middle East Business Development Program to meet with pre-vetted trade buyers from throughout the region. Participants can self-certify to qualify for up to $1,250 in U.S. government grants to defray trip costs. An inaugural add-on program will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 5–7, 2020.

Explore the potential for your products in this growing customizing market, where consumers are eager to get the latest U.S. products for classic-car restoration, off-roading, racing, street performance and aesthetics. The area’s high disposable income coupled with a passion for personalization makes this an attractive region.

Activities on this trip will include:

  • Exhibiting at the leading customizing show in the region—Custom Show Emirates—in a turnkey booth.
  • Participating in a seminar with top distributors.
  • Attending an official U.S. government briefing.
  • Touring specialty-equipment shops in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, featuring performance, off-road and styling upgrades.
  • Attending networking receptions.

The trip includes all meals, hotel accommodations, a turnkey booth at the Custom Show Emirates, and airfare from the UAE to Saudi Arabia.

Slots are limited, so register now. For more information or to schedule a conference call to discuss the SEMA Business Development Program, contact Linda Spencer at or visit

SEMA Market Report
Pickups, SUVs and CUVs continue to be the leading drivers of new-car sales in the United States, representing more than a quarter of all total retail dollars.

2019 SEMA Market Report: Pickup Upgrades Remain Largest Industry Sector

Pickup upgrades are the largest sector of the specialty-equipment industry (accounting for 27% of total retail dollars), followed by midrange cars and SUVs (including the Jeep Wrangler). This aligns with the composition of vehicles on the road. However, the industry is large, offers a wide array of different products, and customer interests vary. As such, sales for all vehicle types contribute to the overall market.

The specialty-equipment industry continues to grow at a brisk pace. Last year, American consumers spent $44.6 billion on aftermarket parts. SEMA projects that the market will continue to grow through the end of 2019 and bring retail sales close to a new high of nearly $46 billion.

SEMA Industry Indicators: Despite Strengths, Overall U.S. Economy Showing Signs of Cooling

While many economic fundamentals remain solid, there are clear signs that the economy is slowing, according to the September 2019 “SEMA Industry Indicators Report.” That, in turn, makes the economy more susceptible to shocks and downside risks. Concerns about tariffs and trade tensions with China have increased over the last month and are likely influencing the real economy.

Consumer spending remains a bright spot. Yet consumer sentiment saw its largest monthly decline since December 2012, in part because of concerns about tariffs. Consumers are taking note of growing risks on the horizon.

The manufacturing sector is beginning to show some signs of slowing, as is the job market. While 130,000 jobs were added in August, approximately 34,000 are temporary census workers. Likewise, the three-month average private payroll growth over the last two months is at its lowest level since 2012.

To learn more, download the latest “SEMA Industry Indicators Report,” available for free at

Gary Biggs
Among the many honors he received throughout his career, Biggs (left) was named the PWA (now CAN) Person of the Year in 1998.

Industry Leader Gary Biggs Passes Away

Industry leader Gary Biggs passed away Saturday, September 28, at his Cave Creek, Arizona, home. He was 76.

Biggs proudly served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant. After that, he set out on a long, colorful career in the automotive industry, starting with a position with Shell Oil as a dealer service rep. This was followed by productive stays at Maremont, Rocket Wheels, ET Wheels (Lee Eliminator Group) and eventually working for Joe Hrudka at the Mr. Gasket Co.

Biggs’ career at Mr. Gasket started with the Cragar Wheel division in California. His success in growing the division led to him becoming the vice president in charge of the Cragar Wheels, Exhaust (Cyclone, Blackjack, Thrush) and Off Road (Hickey and Rough Country) division based in Tempe, Arizona. In 1994, Biggs established FlowTech Exhaust, which was acquired by the Holley Performance Products group in 1999.

Biggs’ passion and successes made his services as an industry consultant much in demand. He did so until 2004, when he was hired by the APC Co. to help turn it around. In 2006, Biggs enjoyed a short retirement. Soon afterward, his passion for selling and interacting with people led him into a career in real estate and, eventually, land acquisitions in northern Arizona.

Biggs was honored with several recognitions throughout his career, including the Performance Warehouse Association (PWA, now Custom Automotive Network, CAN) Person of the Year award in 1998.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Gretchen, and their son Travis.

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