Thu, 01/27/2022 - 22:21

By Ashley Reyes

FLNChris Nelson is the SEMA Future Leaders Network’s (FLN), formerly Young Executives Network (YEN), newest spotlight member. Nelson is the chief marketing officer at Driven Lighting Group, a designer, marketer, influencer and online retailer of aftermarket enthusiast automotive lighting products.

Get to know Nelson in his interview with SEMA below.

SEMA: What is the best advice you have ever received?

Chris Nelson: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from the first day of a business management class in college. My professor asked the room to explain “why you go into business...” and the answers were mostly money-driven. To make a profit, to make money, to accomplish great things, etc. They were all wrong. My professor insisted that the reason to be in business was to help people and to solve a problem. That shift in perception as a young entrepreneur has shaped how I operate as a business owner and leader.

A lot of what I do in business today is geared toward the customer experience, and if we are not actively making people’s lives better, I don’t think we’re doing a good job. We are not here to just make money, or to ‘beat’ our competitors. We are here to make a difference and solve problems. I employ this philosophy with my teams by frequently encouraging them to think about the customer experience, and how what they are doing, what they are building, affects the end-user. Did you solve a problem? Did you make their life easier? Did you make them happier? What I’ve found is when you start from that point of view, it becomes very clear how to win in business because that’s all our customers really want. It’s not all that there is, and it’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but I’ve found that the companies that do this the best find success the easiest.

SEMA: What keeps you in the industry?

CN: I’m obsessed with cars and trucks because I grew up around them. My dad had his own high-performance engine shop, and then he taught the current generation of engine machinists and builders the trade before retiring. I’ve been elbows-deep in many engines over the years, and the idea of building something that most people take for granted gets me jazzed up. Today I’m in automotive lighting, but it’s a similar experience to engines. Everyone has a car, with an engine, wheels and lights—it's just that mine is faster, with cooler wheels, and better lighting than most!

SEMA: Where can you be found on a Saturday?

CN: In my free time, I am either at car shows, racing events, working on the house, at the beach or hanging out with my family at home.

SEMA: How do you prepare for an important meeting?

CN: I spend time drilling down into the parts of the meeting that affect me and try to identify the main things I need to communicate. It’s really easy sometimes to get lost in the weeds of a complex idea, and a skill I’m working on is to communicate more powerfully. I find that it’s important to have a heavy-hitting single idea that is “easy to digest” in a room full of decision makers and let the conversation go from there. The conversation will automatically uncover the need to go into details if you do a good job communicating the important ideas off the bat.

SEMA: If you could go to lunch with one industry leader, living or dead, who would it be?

CN: Not sure he would exactly be called an industry leader, but he definitely made a major impact. I would love to go to lunch with Smokey Yunick and get a sense for his personality and energy in real life. His stories are wild and I love how he lived his life, truly independent and challenging what’s normal.

If you are a current FLN member, fill out an FLN member spotlight form. Selected candidates may be featured on FLN’s social media, SEMA eNews and FLN member updates.

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 22:09

By Ashley Reyes

Loan ForgivenessIf you are employed by a SEMA-member company, you may qualify to receive up to $2,000 to pay off an existing student loan.

As part of the SEMA Loan Forgiveness program, employees of SEMA-member companies are invited to apply for a Loan Forgiveness Award between now and March 1. The Loan Forgiveness program runs in conjunction with the SEMA Scholarship program. Combined, the programs have awarded more than $3 million since their founding in 1984.

The Loan Forgiveness program is open exclusively to SEMA-member companies and their employees as a benefit of membership. The program provides funds to help pay off education loans from a college, university or career technical/trade school. Last year, 22 employees of SEMA-member companies received loan-forgiveness awards to help pay off student loans.

To learn more about the Loan Forgiveness Program or to apply, visit  before the March 1 deadline.

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 15:58

By Ashley Reyes

SEMA Launch Pad, the automotive industry’s product-pitching competition that has propelled inventors and entrepreneurs to successful, thriving businesses since 2013, will be featured for the first time in a nationwide television special on February 13 on the History Channel.

Launch Pad

The SEMA Launch Pad program features 15 semifinalists who competed live in Las Vegas, where they pitched their products and ideas to a panel of industry experts and icons that included Chip Foose (Foose Design), Jared Hare (Addictive Desert Designs), Myles Kovacs (DUB) and Alex Parker (Redline Detection).

The 2021 competition included a record high 200-plus competitors vying for the program’s largest grand prize ever, valued at $100,000. The program features 15 semifinalists who competed live in Las Vegas, where they pitched their products and ideas to a panel of industry experts and icons that included Chip Foose (Foose Design), Jared Hare (Addictive Desert Designs), Myles Kovacs (DUB) and Alex Parker (Redline Detection).

“We’re excited to bring the SEMA Launch Pad to a nationwide television audience,” said Ted Wentz, SEMA Board member and chair of the SEMA Launch Pad Task Force. “For years, the SEMA Launch Pad has encouraged and supported product innovation and new ideas. The television program will give a new audience the opportunity to see the depth of the industry’s innovation.”

The automotive industry has been following the 2021 competition through a five-episode YouTube miniseries, which generated almost half a million views. The upcoming television special includes brand-new, exclusive coverage of the finale, with the top two finalists competing in front of thousands of industry professionals at the world-renown SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Viewers will watch as competitors both triumph and falter along the way, with judges asking hard questions and providing candid feedback.

“The Launch Pad is a competition designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs succeed and grow,” said Wentz. “To see the competition unfold on television is inspiring. We hope that it encourages others to bring new products to the marketplace as well.”

To learn more about the SEMA Launch Pad, visit

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 15:18

By Ashley Reyes

FLNAs businesses struggle to maintain quality employees, managers are finding greater value in investing in existing staff and providing greater opportunities and support.

The SEMA Future Leader Network (FLN), formerly SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN), introduced a program that may help businesses retain and invest in their employees. Through the Professional Development Training Program presented in partnership with Dale Carnegie, a limited number of emerging team leaders will be able to participate in the program designed specifically for up-and-coming leaders in the automotive aftermarket. The training program from Dale Carnegie is typically $1,600, but is available to FLN members at 50% of the cost and includes complimentary hotel and food for the two-day program in Southern California.

“The Dale Carnegie program is among the best that is available,” said FLN Chair Nick Caloroso. “We’re proud to be able to bring such a high-quality program to the industry and help aspiring leaders grow their skills. This is a proven program that has shown demonstrated results.”

Another great benefit of taking the course through the FLN is that participants will connect with other aspiring leaders in the automotive aftermarket. Complete details:

When/Where: March 24 and 25, 2022 in Diamond Bar, California
Who Should Apply: FLN members (employee-level, including junior level executives and those from small businesses). Please note emerging leaders under 40 in the automotive aftermarket who work for a SEMA-member company can apply for FLN membership at no cost.

Attendees will learn how to:  

  • Communicate professionally and confidently in business situations.
  • Engage others by building rapport, asking pertinent questions and listening.
  • Build relationships and deal effectively with people in a multitude of scenarios.
  • Gain cooperation and influence people, including direct reports, laterally and upward.
  • Use emotional controls to sustain success.

Cost: The program is available for $800 or half of Dale Carnegie’s regular fee, and includes complimentary meals and hotel accommodations for two nights. Participants will also need to arrange their own travel to the event.

The program is limited to 25 FLN members, but any SEMA-member company employee aged 40 and under can apply for FLN membership at no cost. Businesses are encouraged to send their star employees to the conference and take advantage of the cost savings and unique opportunity.

Interested individuals can learn more or contact Denise Waddingham, FLN director, at

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 14:41

By Ashley Reyes

Many SEMA members make products exclusively for increasing performance of internal combustion engines (ICE). While the current trajectory of OEMs focusing on EV technology threatens the potential applications for their products, the promise of zero-emissions ICE technology provides hope and insight into future possible markets and applications for their products.

SEMA members are invited to a live webinar on February 23 to hear from Mike Copeland of Diversified Creations as he discusses their latest project—a hydrogen-fueled internal-combustion engine built from a supercharged LS and installed in a ’48 Chevy truck. Codenamed Zero, this truck produces zero tailpipe emissions.

By joining this webinar, attendees will learn about:

  • Hydrogen ICE technology and the viability of hydrogen as a fuel.
  • The difference between hydrogen ICE and fuel cell technology.
  • The applicability of hydrogen ICE in the performance segment.
  • The hydrogen infrastructure and performance potential of hydrogen ICE.

Learn more and register for the webinar here.

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 13:59

By Ashley Reyes

Trade buyers and media from Central and South America discussed what’s hot and what’s not in their respective markets during a roundtable held as part of the 2021 SEMA Show Education program.

Latin America

Roundtable viewers will learn the product lines various countries, such as Chile, Uruguay and Mexico, are looking to expand and what is currently in demand.

SEMA members can now access a recording of the roundtable at, and listen in as Latin American businesses share details about the local market and opportunities for manufacturers in the country.

Viewers will learn the product lines various countries, such as Chile, Uruguay and Mexico, are looking to expand and what is currently in demand. They will also hear from U.S. manufacturers about opportunities and challenges when selling into Latin America, and how SEMA’s International Department can assist with export opportunities and resources. For additional information on SEMA’s International programs including the upcoming trip to the Middle East and Europe contact Linda Spencer at or visit

New recordings of seminars from the SEMA Show are added weekly at Other recently added seminars include:

  • Pandemic Pivots—Business Innovations and the Role Product Information Played.
  • How Mobile Electronics Skills Certifications Can Benefit You and Your Business
  • How to Successfully Manage Your Shop’s Multi-Project Production Schedule
  • Why the New UV Is EV

Users of the SEMA Education website will need to create a personal profile upon their first visit, which will then provide access to all recordings in the library.

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 13:42

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed significant revisions to Proposition 65’s short-form warning in January 2021. The proposal was opposed by SEMA, along with dozens of other companies and organizations. Following a review of public comments, OEHHA revised the proposal in December. Although it has been scaled back, SEMA continues to oppose the proposal. Among other considerations, it would require that at least one chemical associated with cancer and/or one chemical known to be a carcinogen be identified on the short form.

The current short-form warning does not identify a specific chemical(s) while the long-form warning requires identification of a specific chemical(s):

  • Short-Form: WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm—
  • Long-Form:  WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals, including [name one or more chemicals], which is (are) known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, visit
Warning Labels

Under the proposed rule, companies would now be required to list at least one chemical on the short form. Companies could only use the short-form warning if the product label was 12 sq. in. or less. OEHHA would continue to permit companies to use the short-form warning on their website or in a catalog.

SEMA has joined forces with many other organizations, including the California Chamber of Commerce, to voice opposition to the measure. SEMA and the California Chamber of Commerce has reminded OEHHA that the business community worked with the agency for several years to develop the original Prop 65 regulations that took full effect in September 2018. Companies subsequently invested significant resources in updating product labels, websites and catalogs, and instructing others in the product chain about their obligations. OEHHA’s proposed short-form warning changes would negate those efforts for many companies.

Prop 65 was a ballot initiative enacted by California voters in 1986. It requires warning labels on products containing chemicals listed as known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. There are more than 1,100 chemicals currently on the list. Prop 65 doesn’t stop anyone from selling their products regardless of what chemicals they contain; it is simply a law that requires consumer warning labels under certain circumstances.  

Prop 65 is not limited to businesses with a presence in California, but applies to all businesses with 10 or more employees that sell products in California. It impacts the entire distribution chain from manufacturers to distributors and retailers, though the law tries to put the burden as high on the distribution chain as possible—meaning manufacturers are a frequent target of enforcement.

The law permits private parties (meaning trial attorneys) to pursue enforcement and receive a portion of the fine or settlement ultimately assessed. These lawsuits, which are known as “bounty hunter” suits, are becoming more and more common, and are essentially lawyers shaking down small businesses for quick settlements.

The law requires a product warning label if the product contains a chemical that is on OEHHA’s list that is “known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm” and the product exposes the consumer to the chemical in excess of the “safe harbor” amount of exposure. Even if the product has a significant concentration of the listed chemical (parts per million), it may create very little exposure to the consumer because the part is “under the hood” and rarely handled after installation. Aftermarket auto parts often fall into this category. There are 12 chemicals that make up a majority of Prop 65 enforcement, and aftermarket auto parts notices of violation have been focused almost entirely on DEHP and lead.

The 2018 regulation provides the short-form warning option as an acceptable alternative to the revised requirements for consumer product exposure warnings. Many companies use this option since the warning fits more easily on product packaging and in advertising materials and the company does not have to identify at least one chemical listed under Prop 65 that triggers the warning. In proposing the change, OEHHA expressed concerns about an overuse of the short-form warning label.

If OEHHA seeks to implement the rule, the agency has proposed a one-year phase in period for companies to make any necessary labeling changes.

Click here for SEMA comments. 

Click here for Cal-Chamber comments.

Click here for additional Prop 65 information.

For additional information, contact Stuart Gosswein at

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 13:19

By Rachel Tatum


Dayton Jacobson
Dayton Jacobson

SEMA Young Guns is hosting a weekly “Ask Me Anything” series on Instagram featuring young builders and content creators. This newly created series provides an opportunity for up-and-coming builders to interact one-on-one with young leaders paving their way in the specialty-equipment market.

Instagram users are invited to mark their calendars for the following SEMA Young Guns “Ask Me Anything” takeovers:

Dayton Jacobson, @jacobsonsweldingandpowdercoat

  • Tuesday, February 1, from 9:00 a.m.–4 p.m. (PST)

Dayton Jacobson, 2021 SEMA Young Gun finalist, made it to the top of the competition with his insane ’00 Chevrolet S10 Build.

Cole Reynolds
Cole Reynolds

Cole Reynolds, @_cole_reynolds

  • Tuesday, February 8, from 9:00 a.m.–4 p.m. (PST)

Builder Cole Reynolds is working on a ’74 Chevy LUV pickup. Reynolds will host his “Ask Me Anything” from Sick Week, allowing Young Guns followers a behind-the-scenes look at this Florida drag-and-drive competition.

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 12:41
J.D. Eatherly

J.D. Eatherly, 92, of Nashville, Tennessee, passed away peacefully in his favorite chair with his wife by his side on Saturday January 22. Born and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee, he was the son of the late Jesse William and Douglas Serenia Chester Eatherly. He was preceded in death by his son Steve Eatherly and step-daughter Pam White.

When Eatherly left the Marine Corps in the ’40s, he went to Detroit and started working for a Rayco Auto Service franchise installing seat covers and vinyl tops. Shortly after, a Rayco franchise store opened in East Nashville in the early ’50s and he transferred from Detroit to Nashville to be closer to home. In the late ’50s, a second Rayco franchise opened in downtown Nashville.

In the early ’60s, Eatherly saw the need for a speed shop in Nashville, so he started his own business known as Rayco Racing Division. As the company started to grow, in 1962, it became Tennessee Speed Sport. The business continued to grow, and in 1967, he incorporated P&E Distributors, dba Tennessee Speed Sport. Throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s, the company’s wholesale division flourished and still continues today.

Eatherly was an avid NASCAR fan and loved to listen to the current and old races on the radio. He was also a very successful real estate developer in his retirement.

Survivors include his wife, Daisy Duke Eatherly of Nashville; children, Sandy Cantrell (Gary) of Bell Buckle, Tennessee; Donnie Eatherly (Donna) of Hendersonville, Tennessee; Sue Ann Jennings (Al) of Lebanon, Tennessee; stepchildren, Barry Burnette, Vickie Corbitt, Rhonda Burnette (LeAnne Searcy) and Martene Beasley, all of Nashville; daughter-in-law, Darcy Eatherly; step son-in-law, Barry White; and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Thursday January 27, at 3:00 p.m. from the Chapel of Taylor Funeral Home with Bro. Steve Baggett officiating. Place of rest will be in Dickson County Memorial Gardens. Services are under the direction of Taylor Funeral Home, Dickson, Tennessee, 615-446-2808.

Memorials can be made to,, or

Thu, 01/27/2022 - 12:36
Marlan Davis
Marlan Davis

Marlan Davis, longtime tech editor for Hot Rod and Car Craft magazines, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on January 15. He joined Hot Rod in the late ’70s and spent the next four decades helping automotive enthusiasts understand engine and vehicle performance.

Said David Freiburger, “Roadkill” host, on his Facebook page:

“Marlan was a car-loving teen who was a bag boy at a grocery store, but living next to Hot Rod publisher Dick Day led to him getting a job at the magazine as an assistant when he was 18 in 1977. He eventually became senior technical editor at Hot Rod and Car Craft and was renowned as the most detailed tech writer in the industry. When his job was downsized out of existence a couple years ago, he was happy for the early retirement funds, and walked away as the longest-standing editorial staffer in the lineage of companies that have owned what started as Petersen Publishing. He helped and entertained droves of gearheads for nearly 45 years. Godspeed, Marlan.”