SEMA News—September 2021

On to 2022…and Beyond

By Chris Kersting

Chris KerstingHaving weathered more than a year of global pandemic and with the 2021 SEMA Show now clearly on the horizon, I want to draw your attention to recent SEMA research that yields some clarity on how the industry has managed during the pandemic and what we can expect moving forward.

A great new research tool from the SEMA Market Research department, the Spring 2021 “State of the Industry Report” is a 63-page study that projects our long-term economic outlook. The forward-looking report makes use of outside data gathered from government, academic and auto industry sources, along with a survey of 1,939 individuals within the specialty-equipment industry.

The plan is to conduct this type of survey as often as twice a year. The SEMA research team is also offering monthly webinars to help provide updated perspectives during this fast-moving business climate.

The full report can be downloaded by visiting The key findings portray a specialty-equipment industry that survived the pandemic better than many sectors of the economy—and good reason for optimism moving into 2022.

The study documents a business sector that, overall, has come through a historic period of disruption and has become stronger in many ways because of it. While there were some companies that suffered poor outcomes, many more saw increased sales. The overall industry growth curve has stayed close to its five-year trend. Many businesses reported success with online and social-media channels to shore up retail sales, and businesses of all types discovered new ways to engage their customers.

Looking ahead, a remarkable percentage of the SEMA companies surveyed expect their sales to grow significantly over the next year as the country moves from disruption to normalcy. Other companies report that there will be some digging out to do before their businesses fully recover.

This enthusiasm for the coming business year comes within the context of a positive overall economic outlook that projects strong growth for the larger economy. Rising consumer confidence, rebounding new-vehicle
production and healthy consumer spending levels are among the tailwinds supporting the anticipated recovery.

Although the overall outlook is favorable, the study notes that there are still some headwinds facing the economy. Supply constraints have affected our sector, and while many businesses reported plans to increase staffing in the next 12 months, it may take time to find the right people. Overall, the challenge will be to gear up to take advantage of strong consumer demand for products and shore up sources for parts and raw materials. The upcoming SEMA Show will provide an excellent occasion to address both opportunities and challenges—and the industry is showing eagerness to reconnect.

The SEMA Show management team is seeing registration trends outpacing those of normal years. Exhibitors are making plans to use the New Products Showcase to display a bumper crop of products developed over the past 18 months, and many exhibitors have taken advantage of the opportunity to expand their booths.

Attendees can expect the annual Monday-night Reveal party and Thursday-night Industry Awards Banquet to return bigger and brighter than ever, and the annual SEMA Ignited after-party will once again cap the week. Anchoring the value offerings, the 2021 educational lineup includes expert speakers who will provide perspectives on how the business environment has changed and tactics for capturing current opportunities. And newly completed convention center facilities will ease congestion and provide a fresh experience for all.

If you haven’t finalized your plans to attend the 2021 SEMA Show, now is the time to visit, check out the floorplan, and set yourself up to take advantage in an accelerating business landscape.

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