SEMA Member News - July/August 2010
A Few Words With Kyle Fickler and Vic Wood
Incoming Council Leaders Discuss Their Goals
Kyle Fickler is the incoming chairman of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council.
Vic Wood begins his term as chair-elect of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council this year.
Kyle Fickler, the incoming chairman of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC), and Vic Wood, incoming chair-elect, are industry veterans. Each has been active in a variety of SEMA and MPMC positions, and SEMA Member News recently solicited their views about the future of the council and its membership.
SEMA Member News: What is your history in the industry and in MPMC?
Kyle Fickler: I have been involved in the industry as a racer and a manufacturer for a number of years and have attended the SEMA Show since 1993 in various roles for Aeromotive Inc. and now Weld Racing. I joined Aeromotive full time in 2000 and worked for eight years as director of business development. In November, 2008, I partnered with Scott Rider and other investors in the management buyout of Weld Racing LLC and assumed my current position as vice president of sales and marketing.
I was elected to the MPMC Select Committee in 2007 and became chair-elect in 2008. In addition to other council duties, I served on the sanctioning body task force, which eventually became the Motorsports Awareness Task Force. My participation in MPMC has given me the opportunity to give back to the industry, tackling issues that affect manufacturers while also promoting motorsports awareness.
I have raced for more than 20 years and have been lucky enough to win an NHRA national event and divisional event in Super Comp while also occasionally competing in Stock and Super Gas.
Vic Wood: This year’s SEMA Show will be my 31st. I travelled from Australia to attend many of them, first as a racer, then as vice president of marketing for the Australian National Drag Racing Association and, still later, as director of Southeast Asian and South Pacific operations for SEMA and then as a SEMA staff member based out of Diamond Bar, California. For the past six years, I have been national sales manager at McLeod Industries and Hedman Performance Group.
SMN: What do you see as priorities for MPMC this year?
KF: We need to provide good value for our members and create incentives to attract additional members. Because our membership is restricted to motorsports parts manufacturers that produce products used
in sanctioned racing activities, we have a relatively finite number of potential members.
We also need to push the Motorsports Awareness program. Anyone involved in motorsports has a vested interest in spectator and car counts. It’s a big circle: Manufacturers need racers to use their parts; racers need sponsors to help buy the parts; sponsors need exposure in front of potential consumers; racers, sponsors and promoters all need spectators; and the spectators need more spectators to help the circle grow.
Although that is an oversimplification, it should help remind us that spectators are a key element of the economic engine that drives our industry even though we may not sell parts to every spectator who walks though the gate. The MPMC’s Take a Friend to a Race program was created to give us a launching pad for the motorsports awareness initiative. If we help put “butts in the seats,” we will go a long way toward ensuring the ongoing economic
viability of motorsports.
SMN: What are your priorities as MPMC chair and chair-elect? What specific things do you want to accomplish?
KF: Our Media Trade Conference (MTC) is the crown jewel of the MPMC programs, and it is our challenge to push our other programs to that level. Three things that come to mind immediately are the Motorsports Awareness program, the Business Guidelines Manual (BGM) and MPMC membership. Through the Take a Friend to a Race program, our motorsports awareness initiative is starting to mature and is poised to take the next leap forward. In the next year, you will see increased media coverage of the program. We will continue to build on that. The Take a Friend to a Race program now has its own facebook page, and MPMC is taking advantage of additional social networking opportunities to create motorsports awareness.
The BGM is a great tool and will be even better with some updates and revisions. I have used it as a reference several times in the past year myself. I’m excited to see what our BGM task force can put together for the newest edition.
Our Select Committee is very focused on creating value for our members, and I think membership growth of 20% is a reasonable target if we can offer more value to our members. Strong membership is critical to creating programs that will help us promote and grow the motorsports parts industry while taking a hard look at the challenges, economic and otherwise, that we face on a daily basis. Intellectual property issues are a hot topic, as are the relationship between member manufacturers and our distribution partners. How we distribute parts in this rapidly changing environment is too big of a challenge for each manufacturer to address individually, but MPMC can provide a forum for open and frank discussions about these challenges and, hopefully, our collective wisdom will allow us to grow and prosper.
VW: Initially I want to support Kyle in his chairmanship and getting the council refocused on its core challenges: the constantly evolving eCommerce scene, the drift away from a three-step distribution system, the shrinking of the smaller wholesalers and the influx of copied overseas products and their influence on us as American employers and taxpayers. As manufacturers of high-performance parts for motorsports, these are issues that we need to continually address and adjust to.
SMN: In light of recent economic changes, why should companies join SEMA and MPMC?
KF: For many MPMC members, the value provided by the MTC provides an exceptional return on investment for the cost of SEMA and MPMC membership. However, because the MTC is limited to 100 exhibitors, we need to provide value for members that can’t participate in the conference, and that is where we can improve. The BGM is a great tool for new and existing members, and we are in the process of updating the manual. MPMC also gives member manufacturers a great forum in which to discuss industry-specific issues, and some of these issues are more relevant in this recent economic downturn than ever before.
VW: I believe MPMC has always provided a forum for the cultivation of ideas and concepts for all motorsports parts manufacturers. Keeping abreast of current issues and trends through networking with fellow manufacturers is a major benefit to all who take the time to be involved.
SMN: Is there anything else you would like to emphasize?
KF: The MPMC provides a great opportunity to get involved with SEMA in a capacity that fits your interests and the time you have available. We are always looking for input from members. If you have an interest, we will find a way to get you involved without the formality of running for elected office.
VW: I strongly urge all motorsports parts manufacturers to be active and vocal in their support of and participation in MPMC. MPMC is there for the benefit of all.