Wrapping Up a Successful 2016 With the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network
By Erika Klein
Magnaflow Exhaust received the 2016 Athena Champion Award.
Another year is in the books for the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN)—a year that brought both seasoned and new committee members to the network, each committed to providing opportunities for professional women in the automotive specialty-equipment industry.
In 2016, the SBN focused on inspiring the next generation with the launch of key initiatives such as the She Is SEMA campaign and Gear Up Girl. “She Is SEMA” is a program designed to raise awareness of women and their career paths in the industry, because She isn’t always something expected. The SBN also hosted the fifth annual Gear Up Girl event focused on connecting female students and professionals at the SEMA Show. The SBN continues to support the SEMA initiative of cultivating the next generation workforce for the aftermarket industry into 2017.
In addition to raising awareness, the SBN honored women in the industry at the SEMA Show. Uniquely this year, an entire company was recognized for its dedication to the advancement of women in the industry.
Athena Woman of the Year: Melanie White, Hellwig Products
Melanie White of Hellwig Products was named the 2016 SBN Athena Woman of the Year.
Melanie White is well known to many in the aftermarket because of her kind and outgoing personality and her tireless dedication to the industry. A fourth generation business operator, White balances being a mom and the oversight of manufacturing and supply chain as well as sales and marketing for Hellwig Products, a founding member company of SEMA.
On top of her daily business responsibilities, White is a tireless volunteer for SEMA’s councils and networks as a member of the Young Executives Network (YEN), the Emerging Trends and Technology Network (ETTN) and the SBN. She is the immediate past chair for the Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) and is an active proponent of SEMA programs. She has attended most of the recent trade delegations overseas and attends every Washington, D.C., Rally.
She sets an ideal standard for SEMA volunteers as a positive, hardworking, dedicated professional who volunteers not for personal gain or career advancement but because she wants to help the industry that has supported her family and her company for 70 years.
Athena Champion Award: MagnaFlow Exhaust
MagnaFlow celebrated its 35th anniversary at the 2016 SEMA Show, with 40 employees in attendance. Those employees are members of various councils and networks, and six currently serve on the select committees of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council, YEN, LTAA, ETTN and SBN as well as the SEMA Board of Directors. MagnaFlow provides its employees with the flexibility and support to volunteer and participate in all SEMA-related activities.
This well-established company and manufacturer in the automotive aftermarket has changed leadership, team organization and added some of the youngest and brightest stars to its repertoire in recent years. The company’s president, Dan Paolone, leads this effort.
“We go out of our way to hire capable, motivated people and make sure that they are engaged in their work,” Paolone said. “We aren’t afraid to let people move around in the company to find the best fit. We want them to be happy and in control of their futures.”
That mentality allows Magnaflow employees to write their own paths, to pursue personal growth and dream of new opportunities.
Athena Rising Star: Ruby Davis, ChickDriven
Ruby Davis of ChickDriven was named the 2016 Athena Rising Star.
After seeing the importance of the role women play in the sales process, Ruby Davis oversaw sales operations in the aftermarket department for Steve Jarvin Nissan. She continued to educate her salespeople that women look for different features in cars than men do and trained her employees to ensure that women would feel comfortable during the buying process. Davis understands the potential of connecting to the female consumer. At 26 years old, Davis is a remarkable asset to the industry.
Congratulations to All of the 2016 Athena Winners
Not only did the SBN celebrate amazing women at the 2016 SEMA Show but also hosted seminars centered on common issues in today’s corporate environment. “Body Politics” addressed the nonverbal differences between men and women, and “Creating Community” centered on connecting like-minded professional women driving positive change.
The SBN is dedicated to providing quality educational and networking events to women and men in the automotive aftermarket and will continue to do so in 2017.