SEMA Member News July 2020

By Ellen McKoy

TORA Initiatives Serve a Diverse Membership

TORA members joined the networking event hosted at King of Hammers.

TORA Member Spotlight features Sara Morosan of LGE-CTS Motorsports.

Truck culture is at the heart of the Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA). From its earliest days as the Truck Cap Industry Association, which later morphed into the Truck Cap & Accessory Association, to its more recent identity as the Light Truck & Accessory Alliance (LTAA), the group has continually maintained a forward-thinking approach to embracing businesses that can benefit from and contribute to the success of the industry.

With that thought in mind, LTAA last year reached out to and joined forces with the off-road segment. That in turn led to the council’s rebranding as TORA, a blending of two vibrant market segments into a unified coalition.

According to TORA Chair Erika Marquez, keeping the word “truck” in the name indicated the council’s commitment to its core constituency of cap and accessory companies. At the same time, “off-road” marked both the council’s and the industry’s evolution as it aligned itself with the off-road sector.

“We want to make sure that our core membership of light-truck equipment companies continues to feel embraced while we also want to build and maintain our commitment to the off-road community,” she said. “That’s our goal.”

In looking at ways to help both groups feel connected, TORA first focused on attending various truck-centric events. In late January, the group joined desert racers and rock crawlers for King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California

TORA was next slated to attend the Ultimate Callout Challenge for diesel trucks in Indianapolis and the Overland Expo in Phoenix, but with SEMA travel restrictions in place through at least the end of May due to the coronavirus, all event planning was put on hold. Still, that hasn’t stopped TORA from following through with other initiatives.

Delivering Value Through Education

Council leaders engage in long-range strategy sessions each year. During the SEMA Leadership Summit last year, the TORA select committee set its sights on implementing new projects designed to enhance the value of membership. For starters, they zoomed in on education.

“When putting our plans together for 2020, the select committee agreed that it was important to find ways to offer additional value to our members,” Marquez said. “We decided that offering some education forums was important to building both value and community.”

For insight into topics that might be of interest, TORA conducted an online member survey.

“We asked what their primary educational interests were as light-truck and off-road professionals,” noted Sherry Kollien, chair of the council’s education and technology subcommittee. “We got back four categories: business operations, marketing, social media and advanced-vehicle technology, which encompasses advanced driver-assistance systems.”

Interestingly, those were the same categories the select committee already had in mind.

From a technology standpoint, TORA is working with SEMA Garage staff to help members gain much-needed information and a better understanding of how to navigate and adapt to the complexities of advanced driver-assistance systems. Kollien noted that TORA is also working collaboratively with the Emerging Trends & Technology Network.

TORA also plans to present educational forums during the SEMA Show. As of press time, two sessions were on tap. First up was a panel discussion titled “More Than Just Jeeping: Other Ways People Go Off-Road.” Slated for Wednesday, November 4, the session will include shop owners, auto journalists and influencers who will talk about the ever-expanding off-road segment and how to capitalize on new opportunities.

An Off-Road Builders Panel, powered by TORA, is scheduled for Thursday, November 5. The session will feature manufacturers and builders and offer insights into trends, identify market opportunities and address the realities of custom and performance builds.

While noting that TORA is still exploring ways in which to address the other categories of interest, Kollien encouraged members to continue offering feedback.

“The value of the education and technology subcommittee for TORA members is that we are able to provide the information they’re looking for to help their businesses flourish by being involved and giving feedback,” she said.

Spotlighting Volunteers

TORA also aims to build a sense of community and enhance the value of council participation through recognition of members who take the time to volunteer, but for TORA, volunteerism extends beyond the select committee to include more than a dozen members at large who have stepped up to the plate to help out on subcommittees and task forces.

Taking a page out of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network and the Young Executives Network’s playbooks, TORA has launched its own version of the popular Member Spotlights. The new initiative, dubbed the TORA Volunteer Member Spotlight, will feature each of the volunteers. The spotlights will appear periodically on TORA’s Facebook page, in SEMA eNews, and in other social-media platforms.

“Because we have so many volunteers who are not on the select committee but are part of our task forces, we want to recognize and thank them for their service,” Marquez said. “All of the volunteers help contribute to the success of our programs and our council.”

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