SEMA Member News—September/October 2013
Select Committee Members Share Their Vision and Passion for PRO and the Industry
By Ellen McKoy
It’s official! Four industry veterans were recently elected to their first terms on the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) Select Committee. They are Kevin McGowan of Auto Trim Restyling, Josh Poulson of Auto Additions, Chris Sepanski of 3M Automotive Division and Jeff Varick of Brandmotion. We asked them to share their vision as they assume their roles.
SEMA Member News: Briefly describe your industry background.
Kevin McGowan: I started selling used cars in Chicago in 1984. After moving to St. Louis, I called on car dealers for a local restyling company and then opened a small shop in 2000. It’s now one of the largest restyling centers in St. Louis.
Josh Poulson: I started working part time for Auto Additions while attending college. After I graduated, I stayed with the company and gradually worked my way up, doing everything from installation to sales and management, and I eventually took over the company in 2005.
Chris Sepanski: I grew up in southeast Michigan, so my exposure to the automotive world has been constant. I started with 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2001, and I returned to Michigan in 2003 with 3M Automotive Division, working on films, structural adhesives and attachment tapes. As technical supervisor, I oversee a group of engineers who support our OEM business while I focus on the aftermarket for our attachment products.
Jeff Varick: I started my career as an engineer at General Motors design staff in the advance concept development group. I held a variety of positions before moving into marketing and new-business development jobs. After 10 years at GM, I joined Johnson Controls Automotive, where I helped start an aftermarket group. I formed Brandmotion in 2005 as a spin-off that is focused on taking OEM technology to the aftermarket.
SMN: What are your goals and how might your experience benefit PRO?
KM: I’d like to see a SEMA road show at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention and select regional auto shows to create awareness among end users and also to have those customers pull products through car dealers and restylers. As for my experience, don’t tell me why it can’t be done. Let’s figure out how we can.
JP: I hope to listen and learn about what has been accomplished to this point, and if there is something I can add from the restyler side, I will. I have a good perspective on what car dealers and retail customers are looking for from our industry.
CS: My goals are to actively contribute and maintain a thought process that serves all members. Having worked within the automotive industry for 10-plus years in an engineering role, I think a methodical approach to troubleshooting and moving forward will be an asset.
JV: I hope to work on areas of greater cooperation with original-equipment manufacturers Being based in Detroit and integrated into the OEM supply community, I think I have a natural ability to contribute.
SMN: Why is PRO important to the restyling industry? What would you say to encourage others to get involved?
KM: PRO gives us a voice and allows us to meet people in our industry and to share ideas that we haven’t tried but which may work in our market. We can’t change things if we don’t vote. If you don’t participate, don’t complain about our industry. Change is constant, and we need each other. So jump in. The water’s fine.
JP: It’s good to have a voice for those of us who are too small to have a voice on our own. If people have found success in the industry and hope that it continues, they should think about giving back whatever way they can. Many hands will make the
CS: PRO is important because it can help open doors and share successes that may otherwise have remained difficult to navigate. The committee is working very hard to provide opportunities and share ideas across a broad spectrum of members with very different resources.
JV: PRO is the only group that is laser focused on the needs and challenges of the restyling and OEM-integration community. Without PRO, I’m not sure there would be a unifying voice for the industry. Without that voice, it’s harder for existing restylers to stay connected, and it’s harder for new companies coming into our industry to find a place to plug in and feel supported.