SEMA Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

SEMA Member News—September/October 2013

SEMA Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

By Amanda Gubbins

 

As SEMA celebrates its 50th birthday this year, the association takes pride in where it has come from and looks forward to how it will continue to grow.
As SEMA celebrates its 50th birthday this year, the association takes pride in where it has come from and looks forward to how it will continue to grow. 

   

This year marks SEMA’s 50th birthday—a remarkable milestone for the association. Many trace the specialty-equipment market’s official beginning to 1928 when George Wight opened the Bell Auto Parts speed shop, but the roots go much deeper. People have been looking for ways to travel faster and in more style and comfort since the invention of the automobile.

When the Model T hit the market, individuals immediately started looking for ways to customize their vehicles and increase their speed.

As time passed and the racing industry developed, it became clear that a partnership was needed for manufacturers. The industry faced many issues—competitors knew some regulations were necessary in order to keep moving forward, but they needed to organize. Discussions began on how to create specifications and legitimize the products being developed and, on March 26, 1963, charter members Roy Richter, Ed Iskenderian, Willie Garner, Bob Hedman, Robert Wyman, John Bartlett, Phil Weiand Jr., Al Segal, Dean Moon and Vic Edelbrock Jr. formed the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA).

In the beginning, SEMA served suppliers of performance equipment for hot rods, and the association accomplished its purpose of uniting the industry. Members helped develop standards for racing competitions and the association continued growing steadily, putting the industry firmly on the map. Mediating government legislation also became a focus for SEMA. By the late ’60s, members saw a need for an annual convention. The first SEMA Show was held beneath the bleachers at Dodger Stadium in 1967 with 100 exhibitors.

   

“I am just a little guy in the industry and was blown away by the whole team at SEMA during the enrollment process. I wasn’t treated like a little guy; everyone was so helpful and went way out of their way to answer my questions and help me through the process. You guys have been a class act! I am so proud to be a member of such a fine organization and cannot thank you enough!”

–Brad Desatnik, owner, Route 66 Diesel LLC  

     

Many changes have taken place in 50 years. One of the biggest differences is that SEMA now includes other aspects of the specialty-equipment market. Along with that transition came a modified name: the Specialty Equipment Market Association. SEMA now includes more than 6,500 members worldwide in all niches of the aftermarket, and industry revenue totals $31 billion annually.

As SEMA celebrates its 50th birthday this year, the association takes pride in where it has come from and looks forward to how it will continue to grow. Though the industry is constantly changing, the same mission still guides it: “To help our members’ businesses succeed and prosper.” The goal will always be to provide unparalleled support and value for the members.

One of the ways that SEMA strives to do that is through member visits, which allow SEMA staff to learn about the challenges members face each day and connect them to the resources available through their membership.

SEMA staff also conduct Town Hall meetings in different regions of the country each year. These events give the association’s leadership another opportunity to connect with members and share information about topics that impact their businesses. Members in turn have the chance to learn and network with others in their area. Popular topics at the 2013 Town Halls in Atlanta, Georgia, and Denver, Colorado, included health-care reform, youth involvement and the SEMA Data Co-op. Members interested in these subjects can find more information on the following pages of the SEMA website:

If you have questions about the resources available to you or how to get the most from your membership, e-mail member@sema.org or call 909-610-2030.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet