SEMA Member News - July/August 2009
An Interview With Outgoing Street Performance Council Chairman Eric Breslow
|Technology has changed the way the automotive specialty-equipment market functions and has affected every member of SEMA. The Internet Symposium is designed to walk even novice members through the mysteries and pitfalls of the Internet.||
The Street Performance Council (SPC) has gone through some significant changes during the tenure of outgoing Chairman Eric Breslow. Several new programs and events have been added, including the SEMA Internet Symposium, an SPC reception during the SEMA Show, and a number of consumer and jobber focus panels. Changing the council name from Sport-Compact Council to Street Performance Council was among the most dramatic. We recently spoke with Breslow about how the council has morphed over the past few years.
SEMA Member News: What brought about the SPC’s name change?
Eric Breslow: As the niche matured into a mainstream product group, the traditional definition of a “sport compact” car became blurred. Was a Dodge Neon a sport-compact car? How about a Mustang GT? The same manufacturers and jobbers selling Honda parts were also selling products for those models. The name Sport-Compact Council simply didn’t illustrate who our group is. Street Performance Council does in its true and descriptive nature. Our members are the supply chain that manufactures, distributes and markets street-performance parts. Our new name allows us to expand our membership and not be classified as just one specific thing. The larger member base also increases our leverage within SEMA to continue to bring the most innovative and cutting-edge benefits to our membership.
SMN: What was the idea behind the Internet Symposium?
EB: As most people are now aware, technology has changed the way our market functions. Whether it be the way consumers find information about products, forum discussions, eCommerce, consolidation of the retailer and subsequent margins and new ways of cataloging data, the Internet has affected every single member of SEMA. The Internet Symposium was designed to walk even our most novice members through the mysteries and pitfalls of the Internet. Using top education providers, we answer questions that are industry relevant and help members enhance their online presence. It is a program that is designed by members for members, with only production support from the association. This peer-to-peer approach ensures that our content stays relevant and has maximum value to the membership.
SMN: Why have a reception during the SEMA Show?
EB: The cornerstone of SEMA is networking. Our reception allows us to recognize industry companies and individuals with our annual SPC awards and gives members a chance to meet their peers in a fresh and contemporary lounge setting. Again designed completely by SPC volunteers, the reception gears itself to our younger demographic.
SMN: What is the purpose of the focus panels?
EB: The focus panels are an amazing and under-utilized concept. For individual members to put on focus groups would cost thousands of dollars. In this scenario, we travel to large events and invite consumers to sit with manufacturers. Both sets of participants have handheld computers with which they answer various questions and then compare their answers at the end of the session. It’s always amazing how few times the manufacturers can “guess” what the consumers will say. This kind of real-time interaction gives marketing directors a chance to redirect campaigns to be more relevant for the market.
SMN: In closing, looking back at your time as chair, what do you feel was your greatest accomplishment?
EB: Several years ago, we had a council that was heavily focused on one project: racers against street racing. That project later became part of the bigger SEMA charitable organization and left the SPC with no significant member benefits. When I ran for the chair position, it was to get in and make sure that if SEMA members joined our council and paid the dues, they got a return on that investment. That’s all that was important to me. Not only have we met that goal, but by changing the name and having exceptional volunteers on our Select Committee, we have a secure, long-term direction and will continue that momentum for years to come. It was a very fulfilling experience.