SEMA Member News—July/August 2014
Getting to Know the ARMO Chair and Chair-Elect
The Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) will install new leadership following its most recent election cycle. Dennis Roberts, vice president of Distinctive Industries, will take over the chair position, and Erika Wiesman, the owner of Hydro-E-Lectric Inc., was selected as chair-elect. They laid out their backgrounds and plans in recent interviews with SEMA Member News.
Roberts has been involved in the restoration industry for more than 30 years after having been introduced to musclecars in 1970 through a ’70 Trans Am owned by a friend of his older sister. He bought a ’67 GTO as his first car in 1974 at the height of the gas shortage and became a hands-on restoration enthusiast for life.
Distinctive Industries was the first mass producer of restoration interiors for musclecar-era vehicles. The company initially produced classic Mustang interiors in 1972 and expanded into the classic GM and Ford lines in the mid-’70s.
SEMA Member News: Why are you involved in ARMO?
Dennis Roberts: I volunteered to better understand our industry and marketplace as a whole. By volunteering, I am coming to understand our segment and the challenges we face, including licensing, taxation, manufacturing and so on. I want to be part of the solution, and I believe that you have to dirty your hands if you want to harvest the crop.
SMN: What is one thing you’ve learned through your involvement that you would want to share with others?
DR: The biggest thing is getting to know and understand who and what ARMO touches. We talk to so many members, and all these little issues pop up that you would be completely unaware of. A group is much better equipped to solve challenges than an individual on his or her own.
SMN: What is your vision for the group/What do you want to accomplish during your term?
DR: I see ARMO becoming more socially related while retaining some of the action-focused mentality that we were founded upon. To me, this would include more networking events, developing a resource pool of experienced owners/executives to advise business owners on common and not-so-common issues and projects as well as engaging our membership to get them involved in projects that better our marketplace. I am a believer in the old saying, “A rising tide lifts all vessels.”
Erika Wiesman grew up in the industry, going to swap meets and car shows as far back as she can remember. Her father started Hydro-E-Lectric in 1976. She has been there since 1986 and has been running the day-to-day operations for years.
SMN: Why are you involved in ARMO?
Erika Wiesman: I wanted to be involved with something bigger than myself, to contribute to and hopefully make a difference in the security of the future of the automotive restoration industry. I love the enthusiastic people in this business and hobby.
SMN: What value do you or your business find in your council membership?
EW: I believe that networking opens doors to business opportunities that might otherwise be missed. Dennis and I believe that one of the greatest benefits from being an ARMO member has been the networking opportunities that have come about. The people I have met and the business that has come from it makes being a council member well worth the time and effort.
SMN: What is your vision for the group? What do you hope to accomplish during your term?
EW: ARMO was developed as a task force, and we continue to work toward the goals we have set as a group to benefit the industry as a whole. Our current projects include youth education, roundtable and educational seminars, Take a Kid To a Car Show, keeping watch on legislative and regulatory issues that effect the restoration industry and the Tech Transfer of information that will be ongoing. I would like to increase awareness of ARMO to members and potential members. I want to show people what we do, why it is important to the industry and encourage their involvement. We would like to open the lines of communication with the members, and I feel that we should communicate with the other councils as well.