SEMA Member News - September/October 2009
New Chairman Seeks to Support Young Executives Through Outreach and Networking Programs
|Forming relationships is the key to any type of business. Events
such as the annual YEN reception at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas provide
outstanding networking opportunities for young professionals.
The cornerstone of the Young Executives Network (YEN) is providing opportunities to network and learn from others within our industry. Membership in YEN is open to all SEMA-member company employees under the age of 40 at no cost. Greg Parker, marketing and creative consultant with Martin & Company Advertising, is now taking the lead as chairman of YEN. We recently spoke with Parker about his new role as YEN chairman.
SEMA Member News: How long have you been involved in the automotive specialty-equipment industry?
Greg Parker: I got involved in the automotive aftermarket back in 2004. I was working with an ad agency in Nashville that dealt primarily in the diamond trade. It was a great job, but one day we lost a huge account and the company was falling fast. I needed to get out. I accepted a position as the catalog director with P&E Distributors Inc., a wholesale distributor also in Nashville. My thought was that I could take that job while looking for something else that better fit where I thought I wanted to be. But, during the process, I realized that I love this industry. I was able to learn the ropes from the co-owner of P&E and current SEMA Board member, Donnie Eatherly, and a P&E employee and industry veteran, Dave Echols. They taught me a lot about the industry’s distribution channels, showed me around my first SEMA Show and really took the time to introduce me to some of this industry’s finest leaders. I’ve been here ever since and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
SMN: Why did you get involved with YEN? Why should other young professionals join?
GP: Once I realized that this industry was a place that I would like to stay for a while, I thought it would be smart to get out there and start meeting people my own age, people I can grow with and learn from. YEN was the perfect place for that. YEN has allowed me to meet hundreds of people that I would not have met otherwise, and I encourage all young people out there in the industry to do the same. Forming relationships is the key to any type of business.
SMN: What are some of your strategic goals as chairman?
GP: Initially, I hope to just keep things going the way they have been. Laurel Dasher, our immediate past chairman, did an excellent job of running YEN during the last two years, and it will be hard to top her contributions. As for goals, I think YEN should always be looking for ways to increase value to its membership. With that in mind, YEN is going to be working over the next year to really figure out better ways to communicate with its members. Whether it is through online social sites, the new www.sema.org website or through more basic forms of communication, we need to make sure that our membership is aware of all the industry-related networking and educational opportunities that are out there. I also believe YEN needs to take a leadership role within SEMA’s Student Program. The college students that SEMA aids each year hope to one day enter this industry as young executives, and YEN needs to make sure they have the tools they need to do just that. I also feel that YEN, as a group, is the voice in this industry for all young professionals, and I hope that we can continue to make that voice heard.
SMN: How is YEN beneficial to SEMA-member companies and their employees? In turn, how can they help support the mission of YEN?
GP: YEN is beneficial to member companies because it allows their young professionals the opportunity to grow alongside other young professionals, ultimately forming bonds that lead to better business opportunities down the road. If all of the business leaders out in the industry would simply think back to when they got their starts in this business, I am sure they can point to two or three relationships that helped them get to where they are today. YEN is the starting point for the business leaders of the future. As for how SEMA-member companies can support YEN, they can point their young professionals our way. Young leaders are yearning for direction from their leaders. As a leader, why would you not want to see your employees grow and learn?
SMN: What are some of the ways that YEN members can become involved?
GP: Volunteer in any way possible. This could be through some of the ongoing programs of our networking and education subcommittees. Each of these groups has projects and outreach efforts to help support our mission. Members can also run for a seat on the select committee to help guide the direction of YEN. Most importantly, members should take advantage of the networking opportunities that YEN provides. We host networking receptions at most of the major industry-related events, including our annual YEN reception at the SEMA Show. It has grown into a can’t-miss event, with SEMA industry elite always in attendance.