SEMA Member News - January/February 2010

Networking at Its Best

Annual Reception Brings Industry’s Up-and-Comers Together

The 2009 YEN Vanguard award was presented to Chris Thomson (right) in recognition of his actions, mentoring, vision and contributions to young executives within the automotive specialty-equipment industry. YEN Chairman Gregory Parker (left) and Chair-Elect Lee McGuire presented the award.   

In what has become a must-attend event at the SEMA Show, the Young Executives Network (YEN) reception provided a great opportunity for members to interact after a busy day on the Show floor.

“This year’s YEN reception was one for the ages,” said Gregory Parker, YEN Chairman. “We were a little nervous about moving the reception to the Renaissance hotel after having it at the Hilton for so many years previously. Looking back on it now, we had absolutely nothing to worry about. Our members came out in huge numbers to show their support for YEN. The networking opportunities for our members were fabulous, and I think our event has found a new home for the foreseeable future.”

A highlight of the reception, held Tuesday, November 3, was the presentation of the two YEN awards, the Vanguard and the Young Executive of the Year. Nominees are selected and voted on by the YEN general membership.

The YEN Vanguard award is presented to an individual, business, organization or sanctioning body that has influenced the professional growth and the cultivation of talent for young executives through actions, mentoring, visions and contributions for the past, present and future. This year, the Vanguard was given to Chris Thomson of Airaid Filters.

“The Vanguard Award is a great honor because it is from the movers and shakers of our industry, the Young Executives Network,” said Thomson. “The list of previous honorees is comprised of many of the people who mentored me along the way, and it is awesome to be recognized along with them. Time spent with YEN and its membership gives me a clear view of the issues and needs facing the youth of our industry.”

The Young Executive of the Year award is presented to an individual who has had a positive impact on the industry. The recipient of the award must be a member of YEN and have demonstrated exceptional service, integrity, professional growth and business ethics throughout the last 12 months. The 2009 Young Executive of the Year award was given to Lee McGuire of Skyjacker Suspensions.

“It was a huge surprise and such a great honor to win Young Executive of the Year,” McGuire said. “All of the nominees were so deserving, and I was proud to be included with them. To win was more than I could imagine, and I am so grateful for being chosen.”

In addition to the reception, YEN Select Committee members gathered for their annual Long-Range Planning (LRP) meeting. The group discussed ways to reach out to current and potential YEN members and to provide essential tools to assist individuals as they further their careers in the aftermarket industry.

“Last year was our first-ever LRP,” said Parker. “We learned a lot about how to effectively plan for the future during that meeting. This year, however, we decided to add an education element to the event. We all learned more about our strengths and weaknesses as communicators and how we can more effectively work together as a team. We also planned our upcoming year’s programs. I want to thank all of our volunteer Select Committee members for taking time out of their busy SEMA Show week schedule to attend the event.”


Meet YEN’s Chairman-Elect: Lee McGuire


Lee McGuire (left), YEN chair-elect, was honored with the YEN Young Executive of the Year award for 2009. Laurel Dasher, former YEN chairman, presented the plaque at the YEN reception, held in conjunction with the 2009 SEMA Show.   

The cornerstone of YEN is providing opportunities to network and learn from others within the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Taking the lead as chair-elect of YEN is Lee McGuire, director of marketing for Skyjacker Suspensions. McGuire recently shared her insights with SEMA Member News, speaking as a member and a leader within YEN.

SEMA Member News: How long have you been involved in the aftermarket industry?

Lee McGuire: I have been in the aftermarket going on six years now. This was my seventh SEMA Show with Skyjacker, and every year is new and exciting.

SMN: Why did you get involved with YEN? Why should other young professionals join?

LM: I first got involved in YEN after winning a SEMA Loan Forgiveness Scholarship. After winning it, I found out that YEN was involved in the SEMA Silent Auction, and I wanted to find a way to plug in and help with that effort. I also thought that, as a young executive myself, YEN was a great way to network and find out more about the industry that I love. I was elected to the YEN Select Committee in 2006 and found a way to help with the Silent Auction and other great YEN programs. I think other young professionals need networking, and YEN is such a great place for that, so there is no reason not to join.

SMN: How is YEN beneficial to SEMA-member companies and their employees?

LM: YEN helps its members really stay connected to what is happening with SEMA. You get exposed to industry programs and resources that can be very helpful for
your company.

SMN: What are some ways in which YEN members can become involved?

LM: YEN is working on a new member resource pool, and we are encouraging all Young Executives Network members to reach out to us. We will find a way to get you plugged in. It doesn’t matter what level of involvement, we can find a way large or small to get you plugged in, and we are always on the lookout for new volunteers and Select Committee members.