SEMA Member News—July/August 2013
TORA New Product Showcase Returns to Carlisle
The 2013 Carlisle Truck Nationals will once again be home to the Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) New Product Showcase on August 2–3, 2013. The New Product Showcase is recognized as a valuable benefit by an increasing number of TORA-member companies. Participation has grown from 17 companies and 32 products at the inaugural event in 2010 to 27 companies and 52 products in 2012.
“It’s a tremendous value,” said Melanie White, chair of TORA and vice president of Hellwig Products. “The Carlisle Truck Nationals is one of the largest light-truck enthusiast gatherings in the country. The Showcase provides TORA-member companies with the opportunity to put their products in front of the very folks who might use them, without even being there. In this day of online everything, there’s still nothing better to a consumer than touching, feeling and seeing shiny or go-fast things in person.”
TORA-member companies register to display online through the TORA web pages (www.SEMA.org/TORA). SEMA staff and TORA volunteers unpack the products and set up the displays. After the event, the products are repacked and shipped back. Companies may ship a product or have it dropped off and picked up on-site. Members are also encouraged to include handout information with their products that points people to their company website but also to any of their dealers on-site or in the Carlisle area.
A live vehicle build will also be featured as part of the TORA New Product Showcase. Bob Smeigh and the crew from RV 4Wheel & Performance Automotive in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, will once again being doing the build. For more information on the Showcase and the live vehicle build, visit www.SEMA.org/TORA.
Introducing Melanie White—TORA Chair
By Amanda Gubbins
TORA Chair Melanie White’s great grandfather and grandfather started Hellwig Products in 1946. Over the past 67 years, it has grown into a thriving business, proudly offering 100% American-made products. Though White never planned to go into the automotive aftermarket, she was able to fill a gap in her family’s company eight years ago when she started in an outside sales position. It didn’t take long for White to fall in love with the industry.
“What we do is just fun,” she said.
Since White started at Hellwig, she has moved up in the company, first as marketing manager and then into the new role of vice president last summer. Some of her favorite aspects are the opportunity for involvement in marketing the company and going out to meet people and promote the brand.
White’s involvement with SEMA began early in her career with one of Hellwig’s accounts in Stockton, California. She met former TORA Chair Anne Johnson, who became White’s mentor through the SEMA mentoring program. It was through this mentorship that White first became involved with the TORA, attending networking events and Long-Range Planning Meetings. White took over as council chair for the TORA on July 1, and she is excited about what the council members will accomplish together over the next two years.
“It’s fun to be a part of a group that is for the greater good of the industry,” White said of her role on TORA’s Select Committee. “I work with incredibly smart people. It’s a great environment, where everyone is focused on helping membership.”
White sees navigating changes in technology with the Internet and social media as a challenge for members of the industry on both the manufacturing and marketing levels, but she feels that her most important role as chair will be meeting the needs of the council members.
“I want to address whatever they speak the loudest about,” she said.
She believes that there is a need for online training tools and hopes to continue the work of Immediate Past Chairman George Lathouris on development of a training module. She also said that there are many opportunities for council involvement.
“Volunteering is really important for our industry,” she said. “We need different voices from different parts of the industry. It’s really about raising your hand and saying you want to get involved.”
For more information about TORA and how to join, contact Jim Skelly at jimsk@SEMA.org or call 909-978-6690.