SEMA Member News—January/February 2014
TORA Industry Awards Reception andFall Nationals
The Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) industry awards reception is the premier networking opportunity for those employed and active in the light-truck accessories market. The 2013 event was held November 6 in the Garden Patio North of the Las Vegas Hotel in conjunction with the SEMA Show. In addition to the presentation of TORA’s industry awards, the evening was highlighted by the annual TORA Fall Nationals Pinewood Drag Races benefitting the SEMA Cares charities.
Attendees “rented” cars for $20 each and competed for the title of the Fourth Annual Fall Nationals Top Eliminator. All of the cars were built by kids from different Childhelp facilities, and all of the proceeds supported SEMA Cares.
The TORA Retailer of the Year award was established to recognize and honor a light-truck accessory retailer whose creativity, dignity, integrity, industriousness, professionalism and accomplishments have enhanced the stature and annual growth of the industry within the candidate’s community. The 2013 TORA Retailer of the Year was Pickup Outfitters, represented by owner Dy Ramirez and manager Mike Townsend.
TORA members also select the best new products on display at the SEMA Show in the light-truck and off-road categories. The 2013 winners were:
- Best New Product under $500: BedRug and BedTred for Jeep JK from BedRug
- Best New Product over $500: Leer Locker from Truck Accessories Group
Bob Smeigh, of RV 4 Wheel Drive & Performance Automotive was given the TORA Industry Recognition Award for his contributions to the TORA New Product Showcase Jeep Build at the Carlisle Truck Nationals. Outgoing TORA Chair George Lathouris was presented with a ceremonial gavel in recognition of his service to the alliance during his tenure. Lathouris was honored one night later at the SEMA Show Banquet as the SEMA Person of the Year for 2013. Congratulations to Lathouris on behalf of all TORA members.
New Look for TORA SEMA Show Booth
The TORA booth at the 2013 SEMA Show featured a new look, with five featured vehicles moved to an outdoor location adjacent to the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The TORA select committee was on hand at the booth itself to provide information about the benefits of council membership and to answer any questions.
The five vehicles were chosen to showcase each of the categories that the TORA encompasses, including lowered, raised, diesel, off-road and Jeep classifications. Each of the vehicle contributors also offered generous donations to the SEMA Cares charities. The vehicles included:
- Lowered: Complete Customs 2014 GMC Sierra, owned by Jake Moore
- Raised: 2013 Dodge Ram, owned by Chris Payne
- Diesel: True Bliss Customs 2009 Ford F-450, owned by Armen Adjarian
- Off-Road: Complete Customs 2013 Ford Raptor, owned by Shaun Frelich
- Jeep: N-FAB 2012 Jeep JK8, owned by Thomas Fichter
In addition to its other activities, the TORA hosted Happy Hours at its booth during the SEMA Show.
These gatherings provided those interested with a chance to meet and network with Mike Spagnola of the new SEMA Garage and Colby Martin of the SEMA Action Network. The pair talked with attendees about their respective programs and the benefits they offer.
The SEMA Garage offers an emissions testing lab; a complete garage workshop stocked with hand tools, measuring tools, vehicle lift and other items; a media center with a large cove for photography or video shoots; a training center that accommodates up to 80 people for product training or demonstrations; measuring sessions; and hands-on access to new vehicles for measuring; and rapid prototyping that can augment product development.
The SEMA Action Network maintains an active presence in Washington, D.C., and state capitals to defeat harmful legislation that could impact the industry’s future while also proactively pursuing pro-industry legislative initiatives. It provides timely e-mail alerts on vehicle-related legislation and regulations.
Chair Melanie White was encouraged by the success of the TORA Happy Hours.
“Having the chance to meet casually, relax at the end of the day and hear directly about the specific opportunities and resources SEMA provides to the light truck, off-road and Jeep community was a great benefit for our members,” she said.