SEMA News—February 2020


By Douglas McColloch

Market Research
Eighty-three percent of automotive specialty-equipment retailers report stable or growing sales in recent years, according to the latest “SEMA Retail Landscape Report.”

SEMA Report: Automotive Parts Retail Stores Still Thriving

Eighty-three percent of automotive specialty-equipment retailers report stable or growing sales in recent years, dispelling reports of a “retailpocalypse” and showing that the more than 3,000 SEMA-member retailers are primed for continued growth, according to the new “SEMA Retail Landscape Research Report.”

The internet and e-commerce are becoming normal parts of the retail business, with many specialty automotive retailers selling products online or using the internet to advertise and promote their businesses. However, retailers surveyed reported that most 2018 sales were made through in-store purchases and believed that offering personalized advice to their customers was the key to helping them succeed in the future.

For specialty-automotive retailers who find opportunity online, 54% sell products through their company’s website and 39% sell their products through an online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay or Walmart.

The web and social media are vital for marketing, with 81% of retailers using social media to market their businesses. Facebook and Instagram are the main—but by no means the only—platforms used, while 71% of specialty auto retailers use their companies’ websites to advertise their businesses.

To learn more about the state of retail in the automotive specialty aftermarket and find insights that can help your business, download the “SEMA Retail Landscape Report” for free at

The SEMA Memorial Scholarship program offers financial assistance of up to $5,000 to help foster the next generation of automotive industry innovators.

SEMA Now Accepting 2020 Scholarship Applications

SEMA is now accepting applications for the 2020 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund for students preparing for careers in the automotive aftermarket industry.

The program offers financial assistance of up to $5,000 to help foster the next generation of automotive aftermarket industry leaders and innovators. Scholarships are available in a variety of categories, including accounting, sales, marketing and engineering.

The program also grants loan-forgiveness awards for employees of SEMA-member companies who have completed a program of study at an accredited university, college or vocational/technical program within the United States.

Applications for the program will be open until March 1, 2020. Those chosen as scholarship recipients will be invited to attend the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where they will be recognized during an awards luncheon.

To view eligibility requirements, visit For more information, contact SEMA Manager of Student Programs Juliet Marshall by phone at 909-978-6655 or via email at

High School Builds
Comstock High School was one of five high schools that participated in the SEMA High School Build Program in 2019. The students built a ’04 Jeep Wrangler Sahara.

SEMA High School Vehicle Build Seeks Sponsors

The SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program is expanding to 10 builds for the 2019–2020 school year. As partners in this program, 10 high-school auto-shop classes will customize third-generation Toyota 4Runners and Jeep Wrangler TJs.

Through this hands-on build program, students will expand their real-world auto-tech skills by working with aftermarket products while being introduced to new career paths to pursue their passion for customization. The builds begin in January, and students will complete their builds by the end of the school year.

Aftermarket companies can support this effort through parts donations and/or mentorship opportunities. Sponsors will have their product(s) installed on the vehicle(s) and receive recognition through the build website ( and in SEMA build promotions.

Sponsoring the SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program not only gives high-school students a build experience of a lifetime but also allows them to open their minds to the possibilities of what can be accomplished using aftermarket products.

If you’re interested in supporting one or more of the student vehicle builds, fill out the product donation form located at the build website. If you’re interested in mentoring a school, please contact SEMA Youth Engagement Programs Manager Katie Hurst at

Mike Slater (center) of Eastern Truck and Accessories was named TORA Retailer of The Year.

Truck Industry Award Winners Announced

The SEMA Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA) announced the winners of its third annual TORA Awards during the 2019 SEMA Show. The awards are given to members who positively influence the market and to the best new products in the truck industry. Selected by TORA, the winners included:

  • TORA Retailer of the Year: Mike Slater, Eastern Truck and Accessories
  • TORA Influencer of the Year: Jason Sakurai, Roadhouse Marketing
  • TORA Hall of Fame: Joel Ayres, Automotive Concepts
  • TORA Ron Webster Award: Jon Engen, DECKED
  • Best Off-Road New Product: Spyder Nightline Synthetic Winch Rope, Warn Industries Inc.
  • Best Light Truck New Product: Jeep Gladiator Bedside Storage Lockboxes, Bestop Premium Accessories Group

“The growth of the light-truck and off-road markets wouldn’t be possible without the continuous efforts of our supporting manufacturers and industry influencers,” said TORA Chairman Erika Marquez. “We are pleased to honor the individuals whose creativity, industriousness and accomplishments have contributed to the success of these markets.”

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