By Ellen McKoy
SEMA Membership Delivers Value All Year Long
Town Hall Meetings afford SEMA Board leadership and staff an opportunity to connect and share information with members, while giving attendees a chance to network with others in their area.
SEMA marked a milestone anniversary in 2013: 50 years of dedicated service to the automotive specialty products industry. Now in its 55th year, the association continues to embrace all segments of the specialty-equipment market—more than 7,000 member companies worldwide—and remains true to its mission to “help members’ businesses succeed and prosper.”
So what does that mean? Many folks undoubtedly associate SEMA with the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And while the Show provides a world-class, week-long forum for companies to buy, sell and market the industry’s products and services, SEMA is much more than a trade show.
From the get-go, SEMA’s mission, beyond producing an industry-leading trade show, has always been centered on keeping members abreast of ever-changing issues, trends and legislation as well as providing resources that members can take advantage of every single day.
Regardless of business category—be it retailer or installer, manufacturer or service provider, distributor or manufacturers’ representative—there are activities and programs to benefit virtually any company. From educational offerings and business solutions to market research, legislative advocacy and more, SEMA provides member companies with an array of tools and resources that can directly impact their bottom lines year-round.
SEMA Education: Professional Career Development
SEMA provides opportunities to learn from renowned experts with real-world experience by participating in professional development programs. SEMA’s educational programs touch on hot topics specific to the specialty-equipment industry: online marketing, business management, customer service and sales, vehicle technology, research and trends, talent management and a whole lot more. Best of all, most seminars are free to members.
Career Days are another facet. The programs expose students to the diversity of aftermarket career opportunities, and they allow participating companies to interact with students to learn of their interests and skills and help foster the next generation of employees and innovators.
Scholarships and loan forgiveness awards help young people pursue industry careers. Students enrolled in high school through graduate studies are eligible to apply for SEMA scholarships. The loan forgiveness program is an exclusive member benefit, whereby graduates employed by SEMA-member companies are eligible to apply for financial assistance to help offset student loans.
Market Research: A Compendium of Vital Information
The ever-changing dynamics of the industry call for astuteness in planning for both the short- and the long-term future, and companies need to make use of every available tool. To that end, SEMA has been producing yearly market reports for more than two decades.
A compendium of research data, the studies provide in-depth analysis of prevailing influences, trends, customer buying habits and more. Studies include the SEMA Market Report as well as others that focus on niche-market segments, emerging technologies, market trends and a newly released “SEMA Young Accessorizers Report.”
Developed specifically for the automotive specialty products industry, the reports help members make smarter business decisions and gain a competitive edge over others who may not have the benefit of the studies in their planning endeavors.
SEMA Data Co-op: Effective Data Management
The industry-owned and -operated SEMA Data Co-op data repository was created to assist member manufacturers, importers or brand owners in managing product data in accepted industry ACES and PIES formats. Companies own and control their own data. The SDC maintains a full-time Data Lab to assist companies in the on-boarding process and provide validation services to assure standards compliance.
Unlimited exports, updates and downloads are free to SEMA-member retailers, installers and other resellers. Exports are available in standard formats or virtually any custom requirement.
International Resources: Worldwide Connections
Buyers from around the globe attend the annual SEMA Show, affording exhibiting companies an opportunity to connect with international attendees. Other member programs under the auspices of SEMA’s international relations program include market reports and business-development conferences and trade venues in the Mideast, China and Australia. Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, SEMA has also imported accessory-friendly vehicles not available in the United States to help member manufacturers create export-ready products.
SEMA Garage: Product-Development Center
From measuring sessions to rapid prototyping, the SEMA Garage offers member manufacturers key services aimed at speeding new-product development. The Tech Transfer program enables participating companies to access OEM CAD/CAM drawings, and measuring sessions afford hands-on access to new vehicles provided by original-equipment manufacturers.
The SEMA Garage also has resources to assist members with Executive Order testing and certification, plus assistance with dynamometer performance-product development. Other services include surface scanning and 3-D printing and rapid prototyping that produces prototypes, eliminating the need for CNC programming.
Business Solutions: Boost Sales, Cut Costs
Affinity partnerships with service providers offer cost-savings solutions. SEMA and UPS have partnered on a freight-savings program that uses the collective strength of association membership to secure members-only discounts on package and freight shipping, plus special pricing on other business services. Enrollment is free to all SEMA-member companies.
Insurance programs available through the Specialty Equipment Insurance Alliance not only are tailored to meet member businesses’ specific insurance needs but also can help members save money.
Credit card processing offered through First Data provides members with fast, convenient and secure payment solutions. With more than 40 years of experience under its belt, First Data has helped millions of businesses implement easy and cost-effective credit-card processing solutions.
Government Affairs: Legislative Advocacy
The primary purpose of SEMA’s legislative and regulatory advocacy is to proactively support the specialty-equipment industry and grow the influence of the motor-vehicle hobby. Led by an experienced staff based in Washington, D.C., the year-round government affairs program includes professional lobbying at state and federal levels, legislative alerts and a comprehensive website, a political action committee and quarterly newsletter, and grassroots enthusiast support through the SEMA Action Network.
Communications: Industry News
Stay up to date on what’s happening in the industry through SEMA publications. The monthly SEMA News trade magazine contains insightful features on topical issues, industry news and highlights of association activities and programs. The weekly SEMA eNews electronic newsletter includes breaking news, timely reminders and industry updates. For information about the industry, association programs and events, members can turn to SEMA websites that include www.sema.org and www.SEMAShow.com.
Membership Events: Outreach and Networking
One of the biggest benefits of association membership is the networking and camaraderie that takes place among members. Town Hall Meetings held in different regions of the country afford SEMA Board leadership and staff an opportunity to connect and share information with members while giving attendees a chance to network with others in their area.
Association membership also provides opportunities to serve in leadership roles within SEMA councils and networks. Besides providing forums in which to address industry- and segment-specific issues, SEMA’s councils and networks offer their members various networking opportunities, including membership meetings, receptions, and special events such as the MPMC Media Trade Conference and SEMA-hosted leadership summits.
But to reap the benefits of SEMA membership means first making an investment of time and effort in association activities and becoming actively involved. In other words, what you get out of association membership is directly related to what you put in.
To learn how SEMA’s member benefits can impact your business 365 days a year, contact SEMA Customer Service by phone at 909-610-2030, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the www.sema.org/benefits webpage.