SEMA News—August 2022

PEOPLE

SEMA Announces New Board of Directors Members

By SEMA News Editors

The SEMA Board of Directors is composed of industry representatives who volunteer their time to lead and guide the association. They are elected by SEMA-member companies and reflect the trade association’s key membership categories: manufacturers, distributors/retailers, manufacturers’ representatives, and services.

Member terms are staggered so that there is regular turnover in the Board’s composition. For the 2022 election cycle, a total of 14 candidates ran for four open seats on the Board. Online voting began May 10 and continued through May 19. Voting was open to all current SEMA-member companies, with votes cast by each company’s primary contact.

With the results tallied, SEMA has officially announced that Rich Butler of R&R Marketing Consultants, Norris Marshall of BluePrint Engines, Kathryn Reinhardt of 4WP Factory/Pro Comp, and Melanie White of Hellwig Products were elected to serve on the Board. Reinhardt and White are current SEMA Board members who were re-elected, and Butler and Marshall will join as new SEMA Board Members, replacing outgoing Board members Chris Douglas of Edelbrock Group and Les Rudd of Bob Cook Sales, who will now serve as Board treasurer (second right, above).

To better acquaint association members with the electees, SEMA News invited each to tell us a little about themselves, their industry passions, and their top priorities as they take their seats on the Board. The following pages contain those interviews.

In addition, the new Board members will be formally inducted at the SEMA Awards Gala on July 29 at the Westin Anaheim Resort in Anaheim, California.

Rich ButlerRich Butler, CEO, R&R Marketing Consultants Inc. (RRMCI)

SEMA News: What was your initial introduction to the industry, and how did it come about?

RB: I began working in my father’s auto repair shop at an early age. We were a drag-racing family and spent any available free time racing or working on race cars. I began attending SEMA Shows while working with VAMP Racing/Hight Automotive. My first day on the job with RRMCI was at the SEMA Show. I hadn’t met most of the people in the company and when I accepted the position, it worked out that my starting day would be at the 2000 SEMA Show.

SN: What keeps you passionate about your job/the industry every day?

RB: I, like many Americans, have a deep love for the automobile. I enjoy driving and the freedoms that accompany it. I enjoy a challenge and especially appreciate accomplishment. I’m fortunate to spend my days helping industry companies overcome challenges and finding creative ways to improve businesses and help position them for long-term success.

SN: What are the three most important priorities you’d like to see the SEMA Board act upon?

RB: Regulation, recruitment and responsibility. Our industry is facing unprecedented challenges. We must unite to protect our freedoms to enjoy our hobbies and serve our customers’ needs. We must face these challenges and recruit the millions of enthusiasts to stand together to demonstrate the economic and social viability of our industry. We must demonstrate to the world that we are a respectable and responsible industry that serves the needs of so many and an industry that substantially contributes to the economy. Businesses in our space are being attacked from many angles by people and entities who don’t understand who we are and what we do. We have a responsibility to future generations to forge a sustainable path forward for the automotive aftermarket so that they can experience the joys and successes that we have.

SN: When you’re not at work, where can we find you, and what will you be doing?

RB: I have a wonderful family and enjoy spending time with them. Late at night you are most likely to find me in my garage making chips with my lathe or mill. I really enjoy machining and engineering things to solve problems. Hopefully within a couple months you might find me in my C6 Z06. It has been a long-term project, but should be very fun when it is done.

Norris MarshallNorris Marshall, President and CEO, Marshall Engines/BluePrint Engines

SEMA News: What was your initial introduction to the industry, and how did it come about?

Norris Marshall: My hot rod interest began with my dad. Dad was a quintessential ’55 hot rodder. Flat-top haircut, Model A roadster, hot-rodded Flathead V8. He built it at 15 years old. Next, he did some drag racing. After that he went circle-track racing. By the time I came along, Dad was done with all that. But I heard the stories, and that was the spark that launched me into the hobby, and later into the business.

SN: What keeps you passionate about your job/the industry every day?

NM: I love what we do at work, and I am lucky to work with a great group of people. We all enjoy the challenge of growing the business and striving to be better than the competition.

SN: What are the three most important priorities you’d like to see the SEMA Board act upon?

NM: On the SEMA board, I’ll focus on three things:

  • Emissions: SEMA has done a lot of great work with the SEMA Garage. We use that membership benefit. With the opening of the Detroit Garage, it will only get better. There still is an opportunity to work with the regulatory agencies to come to some informal and formal agreements on what’s good and what’s bad. The SEMA Certified program is a great example. BluePrint Engines was awarded Certificate No. 1 for SEMA Certified.
  • Other regulatory challenges: That would include the RPM Act, which really is an effort to keep hot-rodding legal. Also, the Low-Volume Auto Manufacturers Act, that allows for a company to build 325 new vehicles a year. Both have challenges, and both will be solved in Washington, D.C.
  • Most important, support the members: The industry is changing, OEMs are changing. It’s not the same industry that it was 20 years ago. In business I’ve been through significant changes—changes so big you never could have imagined them. I’ve watched competitors not believe what was happening, and they ended up out of business. I’ll work to understand the industry and what the members’ needs are, and acknowledge when change is needed and push for that.

SN: When you’re not at work, where can we find you, and what will you be doing?

NM: The only thing I love more than my work is my family. My wife Lori and I have four kids and nine grandchildren from 15 years old down to four years old. Our backyard looks like
Disneyland. My wife is an awesome mom and grandmother, and I’m along for the ride. My hobbies include vehicles with propellers: airplanes and airboats. We live on an acreage next to a river, so both are fun to use.

Kathryn ReinhardtKathryn Reinhardt, Director of Retail Marketing, 4WP Factory/Pro Comp

SEMA News: What was your initial introduction to the industry, and how did it come about?

Kathryn Reinhardt: I was 16, at a car meet, and I instantly fell in love with the sights, the sounds and the people who modified their vehicles. It was from there that I started building my first vehicle, started racing and showing, and ultimately realized I could do much more by moving across the country to California where I started my career in the automotive aftermarket.

I can still remember my first SEMA Show. I walked around the show and asked people if they got paid to stand there and talk about car parts all day. I instantly knew this is where I was supposed to be.

SN: What keeps you passionate about your job/the industry every day?

KR: I am addicted to the idea that we are creating an outlet of fun, adventure, competition, community and inspiring the next generation of builders. It’s vital to me that our industry provides enthusiasts with aftermarket products that allow them to go places and do things with their vehicle that they can’t do stock. I know the parts we manufacture at 4 Wheel Parts make this possible. I know our parts and stores give them safety and inspiration.

SN: What are the three most important priorities you’d like to see the SEMA Board act upon?

KR: I would like to see the Board take a strong approach to the following priorities:

  • Evolving and expanding the SEMA Show. While the Show is massive and widely successful. It’s time to take it to the next level. We want to expand the Show, invite more attendees and make the event the automotive supercenter of the world.
  • Connecting the next generation with the automotive aftermarket. It’s imperative we connect our industry with the next generation of drivers. We must make an early connection with kids in a variety of ways. It’s clear we are competing with Big Tech and other industries that create career paths and dazzle the youth with reasons not to buy a vehicle. We must be quicker to create exciting ways to engage future consumers.
  • Emissions compliance, education and resources. We are under attack by the EPA. The law is vague and creates an ambiguous set of rules that may or may not be enforced. While our industry is super-competitive, we can follow rules and regulations that are clear and fair. We must pass the RPM Act and help our members who are unfairly prosecuted by the government. Banding together is our best foot forward to find resolution and gain progress for our membership.

SN: When you’re not at work, where can we find you and what will you be doing?

KR: I enjoy attending Sunday-morning car meets, getting out on a trail in my Bronco, or exhibiting at an event. I love to bring my boys with me so they are introduced to the industry and catch the automotive bug just like I did.

Melanie WhiteMelanie White, President, Hellwig Products

SEMA News: What was your initial introduction to the industry, and how did it come about?

Melanie White: I started in the industry in a cold-calling sales position for Hellwig Products. While cold calling isn’t fun, it gave me the chance to learn the industry in a grassroots way. I spent a lot of time talking to shop owners and small automotive businesses and learned what was important to them. These conversations translated to a deeper understanding of what the industry needs from me as a leader: to be knowledgeable, reliable and have the customer’s best interest at heart. Those early days were a foundation for my position now and something I still rely on often.

SN: What keeps you passionate about your job/the industry every day?

MW: This industry is so fun, and this business is far more than a job—it’s my family’s legacy. I’m the fourth-generation owner and operator of Hellwig Products, and the blood, sweat and tears put into the company from the generations before me really inspire me. I also love the fact that we help our customers better enjoy an American pastime like outdoor recreation. I have a strong passion for heritage and protecting and fighting for our pastime of fun.

SN: What are the three most important priorities you’d like to see the SEMA Board act upon?

MW: In my second term on the SEMA Board of Directors, my main focus will be on legislation and regulations, vehicle technology and marketing and communications. There’s a rush to push electrification and threats at the local, state and federal levels to outlaw aftermarket modifications and an individual’s right to work on their own car, which could kill our entire industry as we know it.

It’s my goal to do a better job informing consumers on what’s happening and to raise more money and put lawmakers in office who support American manufacturing and our lifestyle. I will also be working to segment our databases and do a better job connecting with different types of SEMA members by improving and modernizing our content and promoting the lifestyle, hobby and career paths to the consumers.

SN: When you’re not at work, where can we find you, and what will you be doing?

MW: When I’m not at work, you can find me outdoors and spending time with my family. Whether it’s acting as a taxi to my 12-year-old, heading to my son’s baseball games, or exploring national parks and hiking with my husband and son. I also enjoy playing on my small hobby farm, gardening and raising animals.

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