A Year of New and Improved Programs for HRIA

SEMA Member News—July/August 2014

A Year of New and Improved Programsfor HRIA

2014 Education Day a Success

Education Day presenters share their knowledge about products, installations and vehicle systems in a relaxed environment.
Education Day presenters share their knowledge about products, installations and vehicle systems in a relaxed environment. 

The hot-rod market is reminiscent of a time gone by, but it’s really an industry committed to giving new life to time-tested vehicles. The Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) continues to break new ground for the niche in the resources it offers and approaches it tries. While 2014 has already been a year of fresh ideas, there’s more excitement in store.

Educational programs can be a hard sell. There are always benefits to learning new business techniques, but the work also has to get done. Finding the balance between spending resources on training and working in the shop is tricky, but the bottom line for resellers is that the better you know a product, the better you can explain it and the more you can sell. At the end of the day, retailers are more profitable when they spend some time learning from the experts.

For years, many of the hot-rod industry’s best and most influential manufacturers have offered free workshops on installations, new products, marketing, selling techniques and tips for running a business at HRIA’s annual Education Day. The one-day event has always allowed members to focus an entire day on learning from the industry’s finest—free of charge.

HRIA held its annual Education Day on March 6, 2014, but the event looked a little bit different this year. For the first time, the council’s training event was held in conjunction with the Detroit Autorama the day before the show opened. Chair Rick Love and Chair-Elect John McLeod agreed that one of the most exciting parts of moving the event was the chance to reach a new audience.

“We had a whole new group, with new presenters and also some familiar faces,” reflected McLeod. “The fresh group of attendees was probably the most exciting part to me.”

The council intentionally structures this event in an informal and relaxed way so that attendees can find answers to whatever questions they may have.

“The main goal is always to increase members’ knowledge base, and not just about products,” said Love. “We urge manufacturers to gear their seminars toward how a system works, not just information about their own products. It might be how a performance automotive air-conditioning system works or the proper way to set up a braking system. It should cover what you need to look for and what the technical terms actually mean.”

This year, 21 companies presented, and they benefitted from the experience just as much as the attendees.

“At my company, we jump every time we have the chance to give a seminar,” said McLeod. “And we always learn something about how we can improve what we’re doing.”

The council looks for new presenters each year, but members have the first opportunity to sign up. If you’re not yet a council member, join by filling out the application at www.sema.org/hria so that you will be first to know when registration opens.

The event will return to Detroit next year but take place Friday, March 6, 2015, to better accommodate attendees’ schedules. Those who were unable to make the trip to Detroit this year or had a difficult time choosing which sessions to attend can now view each of the seminars online by visiting www.sema.org/hria-education-

HRIA Joins Posies Driven Dirty Tour

HRIA will embark on another new adventure as members join the Posies Driven Dirty Tour, which takes a different route each year to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. This year, the tour will run October 25–November 2. HRIA members are invited to join any leg of the tour by participating in their own cars or opening the doors of their business for the tour to stop and visit.

Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) - SEMA CouncilAs council members network along the route, they’ll have the chance to share what the council has to offer. They will also stop at schools along the way to share information about career paths in the industry. Besides these networking and outreach opportunities, the tour offers participants practical business benefits.

“Last year we tested a product on the tour, and we entered it in the New Products Showcase when we got to the Show,” McLeod said.

For more information about either of these programs, contact Jim Skelly at jimsk@sema.org.