SEMA Member News—July/August 2013
Meet Our Incoming Chairwoman!
Not Just Another Woman in the Industry…
It wasn’t long ago that when a male called a business to get his questions answered regarding automotive performance products and he heard a female voice on the other end, his attitude and the tone in his voice would shift to “she has no idea” and he would say, “Just have one of your guys give me a call about this.”
For many of us, it has been a tough and long road to find the right balance of confidence, knowledge, professionalism and respect. Although we never wanted to be “one of the guys,” we’ve worked hard for acceptance, appreciation and respect. Our passion for our industry and its advancement is what has driven us to make meaningful contributions.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN), and plans are being made to celebrate “SBN Style.” To kick off our celebration, we welcome the incoming chairwoman of the SBN, Rose Kawasaki of Exports International.
SEMA Businesswomen’s Network: Congratulations on your election as the chair of the SBN. What are your plans over the next two years?
Having successfully completed our SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women last year, the SBN’s major event is our 20th Anniversary Celebration, which will be held at the SEMA Show. We will highlight the “Legacy Ladies” who have paved the way for us, along with sharing our “Past, Present and Future” timeline.
SBN: How long have you been in the aftermarket industry, and how did your career start?
RK: My previous background had been in the fashion industry, where I was directly responsible for 10 of 25 company-owned locations and more than 150 employees in my last position.
I entered the automotive and marine industries in 1986 with my husband Wade (who was already in the industry) with a solid business plan for Exports International, which we started out of our two-bedroom home. After a few months, we outgrew the space in our home, especially after a 40-ft. bobtail pulled up in front of our house to deliver pallets of gaskets, so we moved the business into a larger facility. We have been blessed and, as our business grew, we purchased and sold other automotive and marine companies. Having worked side by side 24/7 for more than 20 years, believe it or not, we are still happily married to each other!
SBN: Tell us about your company and yourposition.
RK: Exports International is an export-management company that assists SEMA-member manufacturers with their international distribution by streamlining their existing channels or creating new ones to get their products to reputable marketplaces overseas. We also have a worldwide customer base where we fulfill their product requirements and arrange the shipment logistics via air and/or ocean, along with the preparation of export documentation.
As vice president and principal, I wear many hats, as we all do these days. The most satisfying aspect of my work is that I really enjoy the daily interaction with our customers and manufacturers, many of which I’ve been working with and trusted for more than 27 years. I consider them my extended family.
SBN: Any last thoughts?
RK: Reflecting over my 27 years of experience within SEMA, both as a manufacturer and as a distributor, I’ve seen firsthand and am acutely aware that women’s roles have been broadened and accepted. It has been a fulfilling experience for me to be part of our industry and to have the opportunity to further it globally. As SBN members, we are no longer limited by our gender but have become a work force and voice to be heard through our integrity, hard work and accomplishments. It is inspiring to learn that we are regarded as true colleagues.