SEMA News—January 2021

Networking Events to Serve and Support a Diverse Membership

TORA
A 2019 TORA networking meet-up at King of Hammers.

The Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA) kicked off 2020 with a bang, hosting a successful networking reception last January during the King of the Hammers off-road race in Johnson Valley, California. Then the pandemic hit, cancelling plans for the Ultimate Callout Challenge and the Overland Expo.

While TORA squeezed in an event at the Detroit 4Fest in September, the council is focusing on the year ahead. In store for 2021 are networking events that will target key regions.

“When brainstorming events our members will attend, we had to balance the on-road and off-road sides,” said Mike Hallmark, chair of TORA’s regional events task force. “We also looked at different regions and demographics where we could hold networking events with no date overlaps.”

With hundreds of truck-centric shows each year, it was no easy task. Hallmark and his task force whittled down the extensive list to a handful and got the go-ahead from the select committee.

To jump-start 2021, TORA is heading to King of the Hammers in late January. The event is an ideal locale to gather the TORA community during an after-hours networking event.

“One of the misconceptions about King of the Hammers is that it’s just for off-road,” Hallmark said. “Thousands of people are there, and the majority come in a standard road truck that towed a race vehicle, so if you’re a traditional truck cap or accessory supplier, you should be there.”

TORA
Select-Committee Member Kristina Coburn at the Overland Expo.

The next stop will be the Lone Star Throwdown in February at the Lone Star Convention & Expo Center and Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Conroe, Texas. No off-road rides here, just acres of lowered street trucks.

“It represents a lifestyle,” Hallmark noted. “The Throwdown is synonymous with that niche, and it’s important to hit that demographic.”

The NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis had also been on tap, but SEMA News learned just prior to press time that the 2021 show had been postponed. Undaunted, TORA will show up in force next at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.

“It’s a no-brainer, like shooting fish in a barrel,” Hallmark said. “Everyone’s there. It’s been a success for us in the past, so why wouldn’t we host a networking event?”

TORA’s travels conclude at the Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona.

“It’s a huge event,” Hallmark said. “The overlanding community is affluent, looking for quality and practicality, and ready to buy. From a manufacturer or retailer standpoint, you need to support that market.”

TORA Hall of Fame Winner Announced
Henry "Tyson" Leonard
Henry "Tyson" Leonard

The SEMA Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) has announced the recipients for one of the council’s prestigious industry awards—The TORA Hall of Fame.

Established to recognize and honor an outstanding individual whose creativity and industriousness has significantly enhanced or contributed to the industry’s growth, Henry “Tyson” Leonard of Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories has been named the 2020 TORA Hall of Fame Award recipient.

Leonard, who passed away in January 2020, founded Leonard Aluminum Utility Buildings, a manufacturer of storage buildings, in 1963. Recognizing that the construction of truck covers was very similar to that of portable sheds, the company began selling pickup truck covers in 1969. The diversification helped the company grow even more, and by 1975, Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories was set up in 15 locations. Soon, he expanded the truck accessories line to rear sliding windows for pickups, white plastic toolboxes, aluminum running boards and step bumpers.

Today, the Leonard brand is synonymous with truck accessories in the Southeast and continues to flourish in 58 locations and counting. Beyond business, Leonard was continually focused on the success of his employees and was not only admired as a larger-than-life personality and salesman, but also as a mentor to all Leonard employees. In 2016, Tyson sold his business and transitioned to enjoy his last years on his farm with his wife and animals.

 

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