YEN Recognizes Industry Leaders

SEMA Member News—January 2017

By Kirstin Stone

YEN Recognizes Industry Leaders

 Young Executive of the Year
Matt Reasoner (left) of Retrax was named the 2016 YEN Young Executive of the Year.

Each year during the SEMA Show, one of the highlights for the Young Executive Network (YEN) is the opportunity to present awards to deserving industry professionals for the work they’ve done benefitting the young people within the industry. This year, YEN was thrilled to present the Vanguard award as well as the Young Executive of the Year award at an awards presentation at the network’s annual industry reception.

The YEN reception is the largest gathering of young professionals at the SEMA Show and is a pillar event of the week. The reception was held Tuesday evening at the Westgate Resort & Casino. The event featured lawn games, a live DJ, food, beverages and networking. The awards program is an opportunity for the network to celebrate advancements of young professionals in the industry.

“Each year, we get to honor one of the best up-and-comers in the industry with the Young Executive of the Year award and someone who has helped the newest generation to succeed and develop as professionals with the YEN Vanguard award,” said YEN Select Committee Chair-Elect Rory Connell. “This year was no different, and YEN is immensely grateful for the contributions of those we were able to recognize.”

YEN Vanguard Award: Wade Kawasaki

Vanguard Award
SEMA Chair-Elect Wade Kawasaki of Coker Group was awarded the YEN Vanguard Award.

As a longtime industry professional with an eye constantly fixed on youth engagement, there was no better choice for the SEMA YEN Vanguard Award than Wade Kawasaki. Kawasaki was a founding member of the Young Executives Network and was the first YEN member to become a member (and eventual chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors).

Kawasaki sits on the Board of Directors for DUB and owns Exports International, which was instrumental in legitimizing the youthful tuner movement that brought the aftermarket to the forefront of youth culture in the ’90s and early ’00s.

Through his work with SEMA Launch Pad, SEMA’s youth initiative task force and continued volunteerism to support YEN initiatives, Kawasaki has shown himself to be a true champion for young executives in the aftermarket. He absolutely embodies the spirit of YEN and works tirelessly to support the newest generation of professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Young Executive of the Year: Matt Reasoner

During the YEN reception, longtime volunteer Matt Reasoner was honored as the 2016 Young Executive of the Year. In his 13 years in the industry, Reasoner has served as a manufacturer’s sales representative and sales manager within the light-truck sector.

In addition to his regular working duties, Reasoner is no stranger to volunteerism. He served as a select committee member and task-force chair for YEN for more than five years before moving on to serve on the select committee for the Truck and Off-Road Alliance. Reasoner has worked tirelessly as an ambassador for the industry, and YEN is proud to recognize his efforts.

Know someone who deserves to be recognized for his or her efforts? Nominations for the 2017 YEN awards open in the spring. Follow the SEMA Young Executives Network on Facebook for updates on the nomination process.

YEN also held a general membership meeting and mixer at the 2016 SEMA Show. The event had more than 70 young automotive professionals present networking, and the select committee was on hand to discuss opportunities to get involved and volunteer their time. YEN holds regional networking events throughout the year, often at popular industry events. Be sure to check for upcoming events.