SEMA Member News—January 2020

Experiencing the Excitement of a New Alliance

TORAThe TORA Reception features an evening of food, refreshments and excitement.

From the moment the doors to the SEMA Show swing wide, the buzz throughout the exhibit halls is always one of excitement and anticipation. For truck-accessory and off-road aficionados, there was more reason than ever to rejoice, as it marked the first time that the two allied market segments were joined together at the Show as the Truck Accessory and Off-Road Alliance (TORA).

As in past years, council members and others interested in learning more about TORA (formerly known as LTAA) had opportunities to hobnob with council leaders and connect with colleagues, and they also got to experience the excitement of the new alliance.

Networking, Honoring Industry Leaders

Light-truck and off-road accessories are the main attraction in Upper South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the SEMA Show. It’s also where the TORA exhibit shines brightly, each year displaying decked-out feature vehicles and hosting a Happy Hour on Tuesday afternoon.

“The SEMA Show is the perfect opportunity for truck and off-road manufacturers to debut new products and for distributors, retailers and media to learn about them,” said Erika Marquez, council chair. “The Upper South Hall wouldn’t be complete without TORA’s presence, and the TORA Happy Hour always draws a good crowd. It’s the best opportunity for members and nonmembers to network with other industry people, meet select committee members, ask questions, get involved and have a cold beer—all in a relaxing and friendly environment surrounded by two of the best feature vehicles that not only represent the heart of our council but are also a way to feature the latest products from the truck and off-road industry.”

TORACompanies can purchase a pinewood car to race during the reception to help support SEMA Cares charities.

The TORA Happy Hour isn’t the only place where the council puts its best foot forward. The council’s annual awards reception was held outside in front of South Hall on Wednesday evening, November 6, immediately following Show closing for the day. The event drew a jam-packed and exuberant crowd and featured the popular Pinewood Derby competition, proceeds of which were donated to SEMA Cares, and an awards ceremony.

“The TORA reception is one of the best-attended events during the Show and continues to grow every year,” Marquez said. “It’s a great networking opportunity and also where attendees have the opportunity to support SEMA Cares. And it’s where TORA celebrates industry achievements by recognizing member excellence.”

Awards were presented in four categories: Retailer of the Year, Influencer of the Year, Ron Webster Memorial Award, and TORA Hall of Fame. Randy Bookhalt of Eastern Truck and Accessories took top honors as Retailer of the Year, and the TORA Influencer of the Year award was presented to Jason Sakurai of Roadhouse Marketing.

The Ron Webster Memorial Award for Engineering Excellence is named in honor of the late founder of Guidon Truck Covers, also a founding member of the Truck Cap Industry Association/Truck Cap & Accessory Alliance (TCIA/TCAA, now TORA). The 2019 recipient of the award was John Engen of Decked.

The TORA Hall of Fame honor is presented to an outstanding individual whose creativity, dignity, integrity, industriousness and accomplishments have enhanced the growth and stature of the industry. The 2019 inductee was Joel Ayres, executive director of the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation.

Ayres’ lifelong involvement in the industry includes decades as a volunteer leader, not only as an active member of LTAA and TORA but also as far back as TCAA, and he has also served on the SEMA Board of Directors. His induction is a fitting tribute to his many contributions.

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