TORA 2016 Award Winners Announced

SEMA Member News—January 2017

By Katie Carson

TORA 2016 Award Winners Announced

 TORA Hall of Fame
George Lathouris (right) of Keystone Automotive was inducted into the TORA Hall of Fame.

The Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) hosted its annual industry awards reception at the 2016 SEMA Show. The event is always highly anticipated by council members and is well attended. Light-truck professionals gathered for an evening of networking and honoring outstanding companies and individuals in the light-truck segment. Three awards were presented: TORA Hall of Fame, TORA Retailer of the Year and the TORA Ron Webster Memorial Award for Engineering Excellence.

TORA is a proud supporter of SEMA Cares charities. Reception attendees had the opportunity to rent a pinewood truck and participate in the pinewood races in exchange for a donation to the charities. The pinewoods raised $2,500 for the charity.

2016 Retailer of the Year: Terry’s Toppers

Terry’s Toppers is a single-store retailer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that has been in the business for more than 30 years, serving the south Florida market. Company President Renee Moffat is very active in various networking associations in her local community of Broward County and is part of the committee that puts on Navy Days every year in Fort Lauderdale. Her focus on customer service and relationship building with both customers and suppliers alike has allowed Terry’s Toppers to be successful year after year, with a particularly strong reputation in commercial upfitting and international exports. Moffat is an active participant in industry events within SEMA and TORA. Terry’s Toppers has also been featured in the TORA Member Spotlight and was a past member of a truck-cap manufacturer’s dealer advisory panel.

TORA Hall of Fame: George Lathouris, Keystone Automotive

George Lathouris began his career at American Speed Equipment in New York, working his way up to national sales and advertising manager. He opened warehouse distribution in Colorado for Dick Cepek in 1992 and became the company’s purchasing manager in Los Angeles in 1994.

Throughout his career, Lathouris has been recognized by his peers as a mentor and one who leads by example. His ability to take off his company hat and focus on the greater needs of the industry at large served him well through his two terms as chairman of TORA. In addition to his contributions to TORA, Lathouris develops and supports fundraising opportunities for SEMA Cares and is actively involved in the annual build days for the SEMA Pinewood Drag Races.

Ron Webster Memorial Award: Mark Turner, Daystar

TORA Engineering Excellence
Mark Turner (left) of Daystar was honored with the 2016 TORA Ron Webster Memorial Award for Engineering Excellence.

Mark Turner was instrumental in developing what is known as the leveling kit in today’s Jeep and light-truck market. The product transformed the suspension industry, offering consumers an affordable solution to lifting and leveling their trucks, SUVs or Jeeps. Turner’s major contribution to both Daystar and today’s Jeep and light-truck market is the Daystar upper dash panel and switch panel that replaces the stock Jeep JK dash panel, offering storage space on the dash for phones, GPS, glasses and more, which is nonexistent in the stock Jeep JK.

This past year, Turner used the same basic concept on the new-model Jeep JK to design a dash insert/GPS ball-mount system, eliminating the need to mount suction-cup-style GPS or phone mounts to the windshield, which is soon to be illegal in all 50 states. This Daystar product category of interior-enhancing products has completely transformed the functionality of the Jeep TJ and JK around the world.

Best Product Awards

In addition to the other honors bestowed at the TORA reception at the SEMA Show, Truck Hero Inc. was presented with the TORA Best Product Over $500 Award for its Ridge Lander product, and Bubba Rope won the TORA Best Product Under $500 Award for its Rock-N-Roll recovery kit.