Scholarship Committee

SEMA Member News - November/December 2010

Industry and Youth Champion 

Joel Ayres Named Chairman of the SEMA Scholarship Committee 


  SEMA Member News - November/December 2010-Joel Ayres
Joel Ayres, national marketing director of the Truck Accessories Group, has added another credential to his impressive list: chairman of the SEMA Scholarship Committee. A 38-year industry veteran, Ayres is also a member of the SEMA Board of Directors.
Joel Ayres is the sales manager of the Truck Accessories Group (TAG), parent company of such well-known brands as Leer, Century, Pace Edwards, Raider and State Wide Aluminum. But while building a distinguished 38-year career that started with a family business and eventually brought him to Leer and then TAG, Ayres has also devoted himself to volunteer service and charitable causes—especially those that involve children and young adults.

Ayres was one of the original advocates of the association’s involvement with Victory Junction Gang Camp and Childhelp, the two children’s charities that formed the basis of SEMA Cares, a committee he has chaired for the past four years. He has also been a strong leader within the association, serving eight years on the SEMA Board of Directors as well as on various other committees and task forces. This devotion to SEMA and charity were part of the reason that Ayres was voted the SEMA Person of the Year in 2006. And now he has added another credential to his impressive list: chairman of the SEMA Scholarship Committee.

The association maintains the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund to help defray college expenses of deserving students and to contribute toward the payment of member-company employees’ education costs. SEMA offers awards that range from $1,000–$2,000, with a special $4,000 grant provided to the top student. In addition, SEMA offers a Loan Forgiveness Program that aids recent graduates who are employed by SEMA-member companies with a minimum of $1,000 toward the payment of student loans.

Ayres volunteered for service on the SEMA Scholarship Committee and took on the chairmanship for the same reasons that he has been involved in charity work throughout his life. “I enjoy working with young people,” he said. “I enjoy helping to make their future better. The SEMA Scholarship Committee does that by helping our future leaders and employees pay for their education and giving them the chance to get ahead in the industry and in life.”

In today’s world, education is paramount, Ayres said. His goal is to help young people who want to be involved in the automotive specialty-equipment industry. “The fund is intended to support and encourage the next generation of industry leaders and innovators,” he said. “We’re hoping to grow the fund as the economy begins to improve and offer even more scholarships. We’re also looking for ways to ensure that the students we’re helping get jobs within our industry and stay with it. We’re putting extra effort into making sure that they’re aware of our member companies and that they know about the opportunities and advantages of being part of this industry so that we don’t lose them to other careers.”

Ayres said that the committee has been working to revamp the entire application and awards process to make it more equitable and to ensure that the funds are directed to students who are truly interested in the automotive industry, and he encouraged member companies to get involved with the program. 

“When we bring interns to the SEMA Show, make sure to meet with them and talk with them, really mentor them about our industry and what’s available in it for them,” he said. “We’re also always looking for ways to raise money for the scholarships, so we’re open to either suggestions or donations. We have a great group from a cross-section of industry volunteers and educators working on the fund. They’re very committed and very active, but we can always use more help.”
One of the annual efforts in support of the scholarship fund has been the auctioning of a member-modified vehicle. This year’s project, a Ford Fiesta, is slated to be auctioned through eBay. Details of the Fiesta project were being finalized at press time, but be sure to watch for developments about the car in upcoming editions of SEMA eNews.

Contact SEMA Education Director Jamie Eriksen or visit SEMA's Scholarship page for more information about the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. The next round of the scholarship program will open in early December 2010.  

SEMA Welcomes Student Program Participants

Once again SEMA will host more than 200 college students at this year’s Show as part of the SEMA Show Student Program. Developed several years ago, the goal is to partner with colleges and universities to bring students to the Show who are pursuing careers in the aftermarket. “The SEMA Show is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the next generation to experience the sheer size and scope of the industry,” explains Jamie Eriksen, SEMA Education Director. “It really opens their eyes to the many career opportunities available.” Besides visiting the Show floor and attending educational sessions, SEMA will provide the following opportunities for students:

Student Welcome Reception: Monday, November 1, 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Las Vegas Hilton, Pavilion 6

Coffee Briefing: Selecting a Mentor—Powered by SBN, Wednesday, November 3, 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m., Las Vegas Hilton, Pavilion 4

Coffee Briefing: Effective Networking—Powered by YEN, Thursday, November, 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m., Las Vegas Hilton, Ballroom D