Tue, 11/22/2022 - 13:56

 

SBNSEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN), SEMA’s fastest-growing professional group, unveiled its All-Female Build ’21 Ford Bronco Wildtrak earlier this month at the 2022 SEMA Show, the aftermarket industry’s annual event. Ford Motor Co. will display it in their booth at this year’s AutoMobility LA Auto Show November 18–27.

The four-door SUV provided by the Ford Motor Co. underwent modifications that represent a culmination of the work of more than 125 female volunteers from throughout the United States and Canada that included veterans, students, mother-daughter and even granddaughter duos, as well as automotive technicians, race car drivers and award-winning car-building sisters.

“The collaboration truly represents the spirit of the build,” added Cathy Clark, SBN chair. “This project was a chance to spotlight women in the automotive aftermarket industry and the ways in which they come together and offer support to each other. We’re excited to see the passion their efforts received at the SEMA Show this year and to see where these opportunities may lead in the future.”

The project began on July 19 at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California, where SBN volunteers, including students from WyoTech, began disassembling, painting and upgrading the vehicle. The Bronco then made its way to the SEMA Garage in Detroit, where final accessories and a vinyl wrap were installed, and the vehicle was prepped for Las Vegas. Throughout 2023, the vehicle will be on display at multiple events highlighting women in automotive.

“To me, this wasn’t about trying to prove that women are capable,” said Volunteer Team Lead Haley Keelin. “We already know we are capable. This was about changing the way the world perceives our capabilities and showcasing what all these amazing women can do. I’m so proud to share this build with everyone at SEMA and to showcase what we all built together.”

The SBN’s 2022 All-Female Build campaign marks the 10-year anniversary of SBN’s first award-winning all-female build, a ’13 Ford Mustang GT, which was also present in the SBN’s SEMA booth for the unveiling. The program’s popularity over the last decade has grown so much, more than 250 women expressed interest in volunteering to support this year’s build.

“This experience continues to create awareness of female expertise, expose women to other aspects of the industry and instill confidence in all of our female volunteers,” said Nicole Bradle, SBN council director. “It’s amazing to celebrate 10 years of the All-Female Build program with these amazing professionals and enthusiasts and finally have the opportunity to show the result of countless hours of work with the world.”

The overland and off-road-themed build features an ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 8 Suspension System and 17×8.5-in. ICON Alloys Thrust satin-black wheels wrapped in aggressive 37-in. Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 tires. Oracle headlights, taillights and off-road lights provide visibility in all conditions. A Goose Gear Rear Seat Delete makes space for an interior camp kitchen, complete with a Ford Performance 50-quart Classic Series fridge/freezer by ARB. The exterior boasts a Ford Research and one-off Advanced Engineering illuminated Bronco Grille, Crawler bumpers by woman-owned brand Baja Forged, Yakima Skyline tent and Terra Strada Design custom wrap, expertly fulfilling the vision of Monika Kalenski, founder of MEK Magnet. Her rendering was selected by popular vote on social media to be used as inspiration for the SBN Build.

The stock 2.7L V6 EcoBoost engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission receives a power boost from a Ford Performance EcoBoost Power Pack performance calibration, Turbosmart Kompact EM Plumb-Back Valve, aFe Power Momentum GT cold-air intake and an AWE Tuning cat-back exhaust system.

For more information on the project, visit sites.sema.org/sbn-build.

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 12:20

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

Have your imports been held up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection? Ensure that your company has fulfilled the requirements by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for foreign manufacturers and importers to help this process run smoothly.

All foreign manufacturers and importers of motor vehicles or equipment must designate a permanent resident of the U.S. as its Agent for Service of Process with NHTSA. This person serves as the company representative if there is an administrative or judicial issue to be addressed such as a product recall. This longstanding requirement applies to all imported automotive parts and shipments are subject to inspection for proper “Agent for Service of Process” documentation. If the information is not on record, Customs will hold the shipments at the Port of Entry pending submission.

An Agent for Service of Process can be designated on the NHTSA website. For more information, contact Caroline Fletcher at carolinef@sema.org.

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:59

ESRASEMA Show management has announced that the 2023 Exhibitor Space Rental Agreement (ESRA) is now live.

The deadline to submit ESRAs and deposits is Monday April 3, 2023. SEMA Show Priority Space Selection is scheduled for Monday, May 1–May 17, 2023. Companies that reserve space by the deadline are eligible for the year’s early space selection, where exhibitors select their booth location at the Show.

The 2023 SEMA Show will take place October 31–November 3, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For complete Show information, visit www.SEMAShow.com.

For additional information about exhibiting at the SEMA Show, visit www.SEMAShow.com/exhibitor.

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:30
Corvette

Here’s a first look at the right-hand-drive ’23 Corvette Z06 while testing in Metro Detroit.

The Amplify Orange Coupe seen has the Z07 performance package (canards at the front and the spoiler out back), while a set of orange brake calipers seem to be hiding a set of carbon ceramic brakes. This Z06 also has a wide exhaust setup, which also indicates that it’s an international market model. The Z06 sold in the States will have a centrally mounted exhaust.

Look for right hand drive Z06 to be sold in Australia and New Zealand, among other markets.

Corvette

Photo credit: Brian Williams, SpiedBilde

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:24

The Austin Hatcher Foundation (AHF) for Pediatric Cancer will auction a custom Gen 3 Factory Five Type 65 Coupe November 27–December 4 on the Bring a Trailer website. The coupe’s build was funded by SATA German Engineering and was put together with the help of young cancer patients, survivors and their family members.

This project build began with a Factory Five Type 65 Coupe kit, which is a replica of the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that won the famed Le Mans circuit in 1964. The Euro luxury-style coupe’s styling cues are drawn from the Mercedes 300SL and the Ferrari 275GT.

Austin Hatcher

The Austin Hatcher Foundation (AHF) for Pediatric Cancer will auction a custom Gen 3 Factory Five Type 65 Coupe November 27–December 4 on the Bring a Trailer website.

The color and wheel choices of the vehicle pay a tribute to the luxury performance vehicles of the ’60s. Finished in a bristol grey exterior and a full custom navy-blue leather interior, the coupe features a Ford Performance 347-cid Street Cruiser crate engine—carbureted, Tremec TKX five-speed transmission, Moser Differential and custom Detroit Steel Wheels. The custom paint was applied by Ron Fleenor at Fleaz Color Faktory using SATA X5500 RP 1.3, and the custom bodywork was done by Greg Cunningham.

But what makes this custom Coupe so special are the hands that helped put it together: the hands of pediatric cancer patients and survivors.

The Austin Hatcher Foundation incorporates automotive into the services they provide families facing pediatric cancer through their Industrial Arts Therapy Program, which includes getting the children involved in putting together cars like the coupe. The foundation is one of three official SEMA Cares Charities, as well one of two of the “proud charities” of the International Motorsports Association and Road Atlanta.

“I believe SEMA fans and automotive enthusiasts were blown away by the detail and outcome of this vehicle when they saw it on display at the SEMA Show in 2021,” said Austin Hatcher Foundation CEO and co-founder, Amy Jo Osborn. “Not only is it a beautiful car, but it also has a beautiful story behind it. We loved watching pediatric cancer families come together to build this coupe, and we cannot thank our friends at SATA, Ford Performance Parts, Moser and Detroit Steel Wheels enough for helping fund the entire process.”

The coupe build was a part of the Austin Hatcher Foundation’s Industrial Arts Program. The Industrial Arts STEAM program serves a multipurpose function; first to introduce and educate a STEM-based trade, and second, to treat and improve coordination deficits, behavior, memory, learning and many other deficits as results of childhood cancer and chemotherapy treatment.

“The Austin Hatcher Foundation has created a gorgeous car with a great paint job and fantastic looking leather interiors,” said Jörg Göttling, head of export at SATA. “It is one of the most unique and stunning shapes in automotive history. It was during the SEMA Show some years ago when we at SATA learned about the existence of the Austin Hatcher Foundation and the great cause they are committed to. SATA has a long tradition of supporting projects aimed to help the less fortunate at home and abroad.”

The SATA-funded coupe is the 16th car build that the Austin Hatcher Foundation has completed. The foundation is constantly looking for new car build projects and partners to continue industrial arts therapy. Anyone interested in having AHF customize their next SEMA Show build or personal vehicle, or anyone interested in donating parts, cars or financial assistance to the program can contact foundation Industrial Arts Manager Daniel Fosbinder at daniel@hatcherfoundation.org.

Austin Hatcher

The Austin Hatcher Foundation incorporates automotive into the services they provide families facing pediatric cancer through their Industrial Arts Therapy Program, which includes getting the children involved in putting together cars like the coupe.

“Cars like these beautifully represent the work and therapeutic recovery from our STEAM and industrial arts program at the foundation,” said Dr. Jim Osborn, co-founder of the Austin Hatcher Foundation. “The families faced with pediatric cancer are part of the assembly process, which is helpful for their recovery in many ways. And when they see the completed product, it helps build confidence in their ability, and brings a positive sense of accomplishment.”

The Gen 3 Factory Five Type 65 Coupe will go live at the end of this month on BringATrailer.com. All proceeds from the coupe will fund services at the Austin Hatcher Foundation, one of SEMA’s three official charities. The Austin Hatcher Foundation’s mission is to erase the effects of pediatric cancer for entire families by providing essential specialized intervention beginning at the time of a child’s diagnosis and continuing through survivorship of the family. Families of the foundation are provided with services such as mental and behavioral health therapy, cccupational therapy, neuropsych testing, family programs and more at absolutely no cost to them.

To learn more about the Austin Hatcher Foundation, visit www.HatcherFoundation.org.

To take an inside look and hear the story of the SATA build custom coupe, watch the foundation’s video story.

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:23

Are you hunting for a new job? The SEMA Career Center has a comprehensive listing of automotive-related job openings around the country. Here are some of the latest jobs posted to the website.

Latest Jobs Added to SEMA Career Center

Creative and Design Manager
Edelbrock Group

Edelbrock Group is hiring a creative and design manager who can not only create exciting, well-executed creative work, but who can also manage a team of creatives, collaborate with others inside and outside of marketing for project specifics, improve the quality of current design/graphics work and ensure all finished creative work is accurate, on brand and on time for the entire team. To be successful in this role, candidates must be well-rounded creative experts who are skilled in all of aspects traditional and digital marketing design. You must have experience executing a diverse mix of creative projects from conception to production in a multi-brand environment. You should also be a talented mentor who can oversee the work of others, recognize skill gaps, evaluate individual and team performance and offer constructive guidance in a kind and respectful manner.

3D CAD Modeler
Leading Edge Machine and Design

Leading Edge Machine and Design (LEMD) is hiring a 3-D CAD modeler. In this position, you will work on a multitude of varying projects for some of the best shops in the industry. You will be able to see the whole lifecycle of the project, from concept to completion. As LEMD grows, you will have the opportunity to quickly move into a leadership position and establish your presence in an industry you love. Candidates must have Fusion 360 knowledge, 3-D scan data knowledge and 3-D sculpting and complex modeling skills.

Embedded Software Engineer
Derive Systems

Derive Systems is hiring an embedded software engineer to design, implement and test embedded software components to interface and control the enthusiast devices; participate in architecture, requirement gathering, estimating and planning for software execution; and develop new functional capabilities within firmware applications to meet a wide range of customer requirements and operational needs. Candidates must have 4–6 years’ experience using C/C++ for embedded devices and a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or other relevant technical discipline.

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:22
Mon, 11/21/2022 - 12:12

By Linda Spencer

Thirty-five SEMA members from 18 companies spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden, this past summer networking with trade buyers from throughout Europe. The week included exhibiting at two events—one trade-only and the other a large consumer and trade event hosted by one of Sweden’s largest distributors.

International

The SEMA Business Development Program U.S. delegation attended an American Car Cruise, which takes place the last Friday night of each summer month. American vehicles from the ’30s–’90s lined the street, and enthusiasts with vehicles such as those pictured above cruised down Sveavägen, a main Stockholm, Sweden, thoroughfare.

“The Nordic region is a great automotive enthusiast market,” noted Barry Adler, president of Quick Time Performance. “Their love for U.S. cars and trucks makes for great business opportunities.”

While the program was initially planned to be a gathering with buyers from the Nordic countries (which include Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland), trade buyers attended from throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands. The U.S. delegation had the opportunity to meet both formally and informally with the visiting resellers at a trade-only day as well as a consumer event. Rounding out the week, the U.S. companies attended the famed Sveavägen Car Cruise and spent a day visiting retailers, wholesalers and installers with one route focusing on performance upgrades for street and racing and the other visiting shops focused on classic vehicles and restoration.

Europe

Pictured is Liz Couch, international economist—Automotive Team, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. Couch, SEMA’s liaison with the U.S. Department of Commerce, has attended nearly all of the SEMA business development programs and arranges the panel of U.S. government officials at each of these events—bringing together U.S. Embassy staff handling commercial affairs and other government officials, such as those charged with improving the protection of global IPR rights of U.S. companies.

Todd Payne, director of sales for Magnuson Superchargers singled out a main highlight of the trip for him—the day of touring trade buyers’ facilities in the greater Stockholm area. “The shop visits were well planned and provided a great spectrum of the Swedish automotive culture and their strong affinity for American muscle and Americana as a whole.” He added, “I attended with high expectations for the quality of this venture and they were exceeded.”

“Even though I had been to Sweden and have an existing customer, this really opened my eyes to the size and enthusiasm of the market,” said Tom Davis, UK and European business development manager for VP Racing Fuels. For him, the opportunity to exhibit at a consumer event hosted by Hansen Racing was extremely valuable as “it gave me insight into what the actual end user wants and their thoughts/experiences.”

Europe

Aleksander Moos, commercial specialist, U.S. Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Robert Scheid, vice president for McLeod Racing LLC, spoke more broadly of the program’s importance for his business. “Meeting face to face with potential new distributors was just one of the highlights of the trip. Also getting to visit key distributors, attend the famous Sveavägen Car Cruise, and other key events built the foundations for growing our business in the region exponentially.”

Performance Analysis Owner Mark Whitney noted that the trip is for companies already active in a market as well as those new to the region or exporting more generally. “These trips put you face-to-face with vetted buyers in the region. For first-time exporters, a company new to exporting and even seasoned exporters, the SEMA trade events are the best way to do what we do best, promote our products.”

Europe

Rachel Bae, regional U.S. intellectual property attaché, U.S. Mission to the European Union, Brussels, Belgium, provided an overview on property rights protection in the Nordic region and throughout Europe. One of the first steps for a company is to ensure that trademarks and other property rights are protected in the markets in which they seek to do business. Creating a priority list of these countries and/or regions in which these protections should be secured is key. Bae mentioned that there are seven U.S. IPR attachés throughout the world available to provide guidance.

Andy Lamus, vice president of international sales for Dynocom Industries Inc., similarly pointed out the benefits to his company: “New contacts, market knowledge, real on-the-ground experience and the opportunity to talk, one-on-one, to the players in this market.”

The region was new, saleswise, to a number of the participants, including Radflo Suspension Technology. Glenn Classen, CEO and president of Radflo Suspension Technology, has participated in a number of previous business development programs with SEMA, and is actively exporting to a number of global markets, but was new to the Nordic region. “I was impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm shown by the vendors and attendees to the show.”

Europe

Barry Adler (center), president of South Carolina-based Quick Time Performance, and a repeat participant on the SEMA business development program, commented, “The Nordic region is a great automotive enthusiast market. Their love for U.S. cars and trucks makes for great business opportunities.”

The wholesale distribution system for parts for American vehicles and automotive specialty products in Europe, and the Nordic region in particular, is quite established and growing. The delegation met with many large wholesalers during the trip and visited two of the distributors’ facilities, the latter of which featured a heavy use of robotics to keep up with the demand. “The availability of parts and components into the market by local companies was impressive,” noted Classen.

Participants commented on the benefits of spending the time and funds needed to visit key markets and to meet with potential or current customers in person. “Deeper knowledge into the Northern European automotive aftermarket was gained by firsthand accounts through one-on-one interviews with buyers, workshop visits in the local area, and an American-flavored car show that can only be earned by showing up,” said David Reyna, international accounts manager for DeatschWerks Fuel Systems. A number of participants signed sales agreements during the trip. The vast majority expect that the leads they developed during the program will equate to sales in the short-term. Still others are planning to further research the market to determine whether it will be a good fit for their products.

Europe

Nancy Bjorshammar (left), commercial specialist, U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden; Johan Bjorkman (second left), commercial specialist, U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden; and Liz Couch (second right), international economist—automotive team, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.; and Tom Davis (right), UK and European business development manager for VP Racing Fuels. The U.S. government officials participated in a briefing on the European market for the U.S. delegation, including information on the market, such as car registration figures, population and per capita income, information on the specialty market, and enthusiast events in each of the five countries. The U.S. officials also met one-on-one with the U.S. delegation during the weeklong event.

The SEMA Nordic program is the fifth venue for the SEMA overseas business development programs, with each market chosen by the association based on a number of factors, including the current and potential sales of specialty products, sizable local interest in customizing, and the disposable income to afford this discretionary expense. This first program in Europe was added as the 25th business development program as Sweden, the Nordic region and Europe more broadly fit these criteria.

“As the European and Nordic markets continue to grow, and their demand for American brands remains relentless, this trip proved extremely valuable for international veterans and the newcomer alike,” noted Injen Technology Global Business Manager Jay Crouch. “Over the years, we’ve found that the SEMA international trips allow businesses like ours to network with key buyers in one place and get a real pulse for the region’s marketplace. We’re able to see how the local shops evolve on a yearly basis and how the market trends begin to shift before it happens,” added Crouch.

Europe

Mark Cornwell (right), vice president, new business development and specialty markets for Wilwood Disc Brakes, stated it was “hard to believe the commitment and following of American classics and hot rods in this region. It was awesome to meet with key players and listen to understand their needs. Another great SEMA export event—was a win, win, win for SEMA, manufacturers and the Nordic people.”

“The automotive-enthusiast scene in Stockholm and the surrounding region is alive and well,” commented Tim McCarthy, founder and CEO of Hushmat and a first-time business development program participant. “It was exciting to see the cruises and enthusiasm right in front of our eyes. If you did not know you were in Sweden, you would have thought you were standing at a car cruise right [in] Kansas City.” Ryan McDonald, sales manager for Custom Autosound, put it succinctly: “The Swedes aren’t just enthusiasts, they are car crazy!”

“Hard to believe the commitment and following of America classics and hot rods in this region,” added Wilwood Disc Brakes’ vice president of new business development and specialty markets Mark Cornwell. “It was awesome to meet with key players and listen to understand their needs.”

Europe

This was FUELAB’s first overseas trip with SEMA. President Brian Paitz (right) joined the SEMA delegation that was comprised of both veteran travelers, expert exporters, and those new to exporting.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) once again greatly enhanced the business development program experience for SEMA-member manufacturers, providing grants to trip participants to defray the cost of participating on the trip, and providing officials and briefings comprised of officials from the United States through the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP). This ITA program has a longstanding partnership with SEMA, which began in 2011 and since has provided $1.1 million in federal funds and technical assistance to assist U.S. companies in growing their export sales. The ITA’s efforts in the SEMA business development programs, including this program in Stockholm, have been coordinated by Brad Hess, director of the market development cooperator program, and Liz Couch, international economist—Automotive Team, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), Washington, D.C.; and the DOC lead on the SEMA-MDCP partnership.

Europe

Rogers Myers (left), co-founder of Custom Autosound Mfg., and Ryan McDonald (center), sales manager for Custom Autosound Mfg., along with other participating U.S. companies, exhibited in this one-day trade-only table-top display and reception. They also met with more than 1,000 attendees and saw hundreds of American project vehicles. Noted McDonald, “The Swedes aren’t just enthusiasts, they are car crazy!”

Other U.S. officials participating in the inaugural SEMA Nordic program include Nancy Bjorshammar, commercial specialist, U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden; Aleksander Moos, commercial specialist, U.S. Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark; Joseph Lin, economic unit chief, U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden; and Rachel Bae, regional U.S. intellectual property attaché, U.S. Mission to the European Union, Brussels, Belgium.

The following photos were taken at the 2022 SEMA Nordic Business Development Program.

Companies participating in the 2022 SEMA Nordic trip:  

  • aFe Power
  • Bed Wood and Parts LLC
  • Borla Performance
  • Custom Autosound Mfg.
  • DeatschWerks Fuel Systems
  • Dynocom Industries Inc.
  • FUELAB
  • HushMat
  • Hypercraft
  • Injen Technology
  • Magnuson Superchargers
  • McLeod Racing LLC
  • Performance Analysis
  • Quick Time Performance
  • Radflo Suspension Technology
  • United Engine & Machine Co.
  • VP Racing Fuels
  • Wilwood Disc Brakes
Europe

Jay Crouch (left), director of global business for Injen Technology, and Ron Delgado (second left), president for Injen Technology. Injen participated in the first SEMA overseas business development program to China and most trips since then. “Injen Technology looks forward to the SEMA international events every year,” noted Crouch, “and without fail, SEMA delivered beyond expectations with the Nordic trip. This is key to growth for any region, and SEMA provides this to their members at a cost that is outweighed by the tremendous ROI.” The company typically adds additional days either before or after the program to follow up with current or potential buyers or to use the opportunity to measure vehicles not present in the U.S. market to create product.

Europe

Andy Lamus (left), vice president of international sales for Dynocom Industries Inc., was one of 35 SEMA members from 18 companies who participated in the four-day program, which included receptions, briefings, exhibiting and site visits to resellers and installers. Lamus noted that he most valued the “new contacts, market knowledge, real on-the-ground experience, and the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the players in this market.”

Europe

Mark Whitney (center, white shirt), owner of Performance Analysis, noted, “These trips put you face to face with vetted buyers in the region. The opportunities provided by these trips cannot be duplicated by just traveling to a country. For first-time exporters, a company new to exporting, and even seasoned exporters, the SEMA trade events are the best way to do what we do best—promote our products.”

Europe

Christopher Sulprizio (right), vice president of United Engine & Machine Co., participated in his company’s first overseas trip with SEMA, though he has traveled numerous times to the nation. It was a great opportunity for the company to visit current customers and to meet additional resellers from throughout Europe.

Europe

Tom Davis (right), UK & European business development manager for VP Racing Fuels, said, “It was a fantastically well put-together event and agenda. Even though I had been to Sweden and have an existing customer, this really opened my eyes to the size and enthusiasm in the market. The Hansen Day was great as it gave me insight into what the actual end user wants and their thoughts/experiences. If you are a U.S. business that isn’t working in the Nordics already, then I believe you are missing a fantastic opportunity.”

Europe

Robert Scheid (second left), vice president for McLeod Racing LLC, has participated in most of the SEMA business development programs and takes pre-trip and post-trip preparation seriously. He contacts current and potential customers before leaving the United States, sets up additional meetings while in a country, and makes sure to follow up promptly with all leads and inquiries upon returning to the States. Scheid and other experienced exporters have been an invaluable resource to SEMA-member suppliers that are newer to exporting and/or the SEMA business development programs. “Meeting face-to-face with potential new distributors was just one of the highlights of the trip,” noted Scheid. “Also getting to visit key distributors, attend the famous Sveavägen Car Cruise, and other key events, built the foundations for growing our business in the region exponentially.”

Europe

Todd Payne (left), director of sales for Magnuson Superchargers. Magnuson has participated in both of the 2022 SEMA business development programs and the first since international travel became possible post-COVID. “The inaugural SEMA Nordic trip was well worth the wait,” noted Payne. “The business owners I met with during meetings were engaged and prepared to discuss their unique markets. The shop visits were well planned and provided a great spectrum of the Swedish automotive culture and their strong affinity for American muscle and Americana as a whole. I attended with high expectations for the quality of this venture and they were exceeded.“

Europe

Glenn Classen (left), CEO and president of Radflo Suspension Technology, has participated in previous SEMA business development programs. His company has a strong overseas presence. Classen signed up for this inaugural trip to the region—one in which his company is not currently active—as a first step in exploring the Nordic market.

Europe

Jeffrey Major (left), CEO of Bed Wood and Parts LLC, and Amanda Major (second left), vice president of risk management for Bed Wood and Parts LLC. Resellers are always eager to see new products and companies come to the market. This was Bedwood’s first overseas trip with SEMA, and they experienced both the camaraderie among delegation participants and the eagerness of the European specialty-equipment market to meet with the visiting Americans.

Europe

David Deatsch (left), president of DeatschWerks Fuel Systems, and David Reyna (second left), international accounts manager for DeatschWerks Fuel Systems. Noted Reyna, “Happy to attend the 2022 inaugural SEMA Nordic event in Stockholm, Sweden. Deeper knowledge into the Northern European automotive aftermarket was gained by firsthand accounts through one-on-one interviews with buyers, workshop visits in the local area, and an American-flavored car show that can only be earned by showing up.”

Europe

Timothy McCarthy (left, red shirt), founder/CEO for HushMat. The SEMA Nordic trip was HushMat’s first business development program. McCarthy returned with insight into the market and a new customer. “There is tremendous potential in the Nordic/European region, as virtually every product sold in the sound-deadening and insulation-materials category is manufactured in either Russia or China,” commented McCarthy. “There is a need for American-manufactured technology that is designed to reduce noise and heat inside the vehicle. We are very excited to announce our distribution relationship with the Hansen Racing team in Sweden and look forward to bringing our technology to the automotive enthusiasts in this region.”

Europe

Nancy Bjorshammar (left), commercial specialist with the U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden, speaks with Joshua Abbott (right), global sales manager for Borla Performance Industries Inc. Borla Performance, which has participated in nearly all of the SEMA business development programs, was one of 18 SEMA-member manufacturers traveling on the inaugural trip to Sweden. Other venues for international business development programs are Australia, China, the Middle East and Russia. The most recent trip was the first to Europe. The U.S. government representatives from the region participated in a briefing for the U.S. suppliers and met one-on-one with each of the American companies.

Europe

Pictured: Casey Lewis (left), account executive for Hypercraft, and Shaun Hill (right), CRO for Hypercraft. The U.S. suppliers exhibited at both a trade-only event as well as a consumer event (pictured above) at Hansen Racing featuring 1,000 consumers, hundreds of customized American vehicles and a BBQ.

Europe

The U.S. delegation exhibited at a large consumer event hosted by Hansen Racing, one of the biggest distributors in Sweden. Here, William Hansen (center) was just presented with a SEMA Ambassador license plate from Bill Miller (far right), SEMA senior vice president of operations.

Europe

Jenny Amado is aFe Power’s export account manager. The company has attended a number of SEMA overseas business development programs and is actively selling abroad. “The Nordic trip was eye-opening, many opportunities to explore,” commented Amado. “We at aFe will be focusing on how we can best service this region and focus on development.”

Europe

The U.S. delegation spent a day visiting retailers, wholesalers and installers, including this shop on the outskirts of Stockholm.

Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:59

By Douglas McColloch

It’s no secret that overlanding has been one of the fastest-growing segments in the automotive aftermarket, and as it has gained popularity over time, the market has diversified. This can be seen in the types of vehicles employed as build platforms. Once dominated by midsize Toyotas, the overlanding segment has grown to include Jeeps and, increasingly, fullsize HD pickups with their superior load-carrying capability.

Adventure Vans

A new player in the overlanding segment, adventure vans can be built for any use, whether it’s easy pavement travel or more strenuous off-road activity. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Now, yet another vehicle type has entered the sector, and it has ushered a new generation of backcountry enthusiasts into the pastime of overlanding. Known alternatively as adventure vans, camper vans or, occasionally, “glamper” vans, these vehicles represent a fast-growing segment of the overlanding market and offer a potential new revenue stream for aftermarket outfitters looking to partner with existing van builders, for established coach builders looking to diversify their product lineups, or for startups looking to capitalize on new opportunities in a fresh market.

For the purposes of this article, vehicles referred to as “adventure vans” generally fall into the category of Class B motorhomes. They are smaller in size—typically 17–23 ft. in length—and generally less luxuriously apportioned than the more expansive Class A and C motorhomes manufactured by companies such as Winnebago and Thor Motor Coach. Also, unlike their larger counterparts, they utilize existing OE light-truck chassis and bodywork, making them a more attractive alternative for consumers on a budget. They’re also more economical to own, thanks to better fuel economy, and their smaller size makes them easier to maneuver and park.

In the North American market, the preferred platforms for these vehicles are typically 1-ton Ford Transit, RAM Pro Master or, most commonly, Mercedes Sprinter chassis, all offering all-wheel drive as the standard drive configuration, and base prices for these vehicles in stock (unmodified) trim start in the $45,000 range. Fully equipped, an outback-ready unit can list for six figures, so this segment represents a potentially lucrative source of income for businesses in the specialty-equipment market.

The State of The Market

Whatever their classification, RV sales are at an all-time high. According to a 2021 manufacturer survey conducted by the RV Industry Association, an industry record 600,240 wholesale shipments were recorded in 2021, an increase of nearly 20% since 2017. At present, the adventure van segment alone represents a $16.8 billion global market, a figure that is forecast to reach $24.8 billion by 2027, according to a 2022 survey from Marketwatch.

“The adventure van market continues to grow rapidly,” said Scott Brady, publisher of Overland Journal, “but the primary markers of success are differentiating features, unique manufacturing processes, or improvements to backcountry performance. Van builders that are creating a unique offering or a performance advantage are continuing to garner long lead-times and full production schedules.”

“The market has seen rapid growth over the recent five years, with new builders coming online almost every month,” said Eric Miller, co-funder of TouRig, a Colorado-based van conversion company. “We’re seeing new accessory companies introducing new product innovations that are directly catered towards the Adventure Van consumer. We are also seeing very nice cross-pollination with the outdoor industry, something that for years was somewhat a controversial subject.”

“It’s my understanding that Class Bs are the fastest-growing segment of the RV market,” said Neil Morse, owner/promoter of the nationwide Adventure Van Expo series. “We still have tons of new people coming to our shows that have never seen them.”

“It’s a market that’s really been growing the last few years here,” said Oliver Bahr, president for the Americas with Dometic, a manufacturer of products for the adventure-lifestyle market. “The van market has really been growing well for us.”

How well? “When we entered the market in 2014, there were somewhere around 10 to 12 real players in the space, excluding the behemoth RV brands,” Miller recalled. “Today, there could be as many as 150-plus builders contributing to the adventure van space.”

Adventure Vans

Besides having the capability to transport their owners to remote areas, adventure vans can also offer all the comforts of home—it all depends on what buyers want, and the size of their budget. Photo courtesy: Tourig

Who They Are

According to our experts, adventure van owners tend to differ from conventional RV owners by their desire to travel further afield than what’s allowed by a bigger, bulkier Class A motorhome. “All-wheel-drive vans allow access to more remote campsites, hiking trails and similar points of interest,” said Brady. “Adventure vans tend to correlate with hikers, mountain bikers and outdoor photographers.”

“It’s usually an active couple or family,” Morse said, with varied outdoor interests: “Biking, skiing, paddle boarding, surfing and the like.” Miller concurred: “Our biggest demographic is the outdoor enthusiast with a strong passion for outdoor recreation such as fishing, hunting, biking, skiing, etc.”

Despite a sometimes-steep price of entry, the segment exerts a strong appeal on younger consumers. “We get customers in their 20s, but more frequently they’re people in their 30s who’ve been working an office job for 10 years, and now they just want to travel,” said Duran Morley, founder and CEO of The Van Mart, a California-based van conversion company.

As a rule, though, the typical adventure van consumer base skews somewhat older. “We generally see a middle-aged consumer with an adventurous spirit looking to enhance their journey through travel,” said Miller. “This new category has made the journey as much fun as the destination.”

What They Buy

Overlanders have higher-than-average levels of disposable income (see “Backcountry Business Tips,” SEMA News October 2022), and players in the adventure van segment can benefit from an enthusiast customer base that’s willing to spend plenty of money to customize their vehicles to their exact liking.

“The segment’s growth is focused around accessories that improve the capability and appearance of the vans,” said Brady. “Lift kits, bumpers, racks and even snorkels abound.” Miller agreed, mentioning upgraded suspension packages, larger wheel/tire combinations, rear tire carriers, rear storage boxes, roof racks and ladders as popular items.

Morse similarly pointed to tires and wheels along with “anything battery-powered” such as cellphone boosters, and Bahr mentioned products that offer “modularity—being able to take that freezer, refrigerator or a cooktop from the inside to the outside of the van.”

Most of our experts agreed that price is secondary in importance to quality for most adventure van owners, so manufacturers of higher-end componentry can find opportunities for growth. “People are willing to pay for the quality, and they want to make sure that they have the right product for when they’re off grid,” Bahr noted. “They don’t want to be in a difficult position out in the wild.”

Adventure Vans

A multi-event series that takes place at various locations throughout the United States, Adventure Van Expo attracts hundreds of enthusiasts as well as vendors and manufacturers of outdoor lifestyle products. Photo courtesy: Adventure Van Expo

COVID and Campervans

All of our sources agreed that the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 turbocharged growth in the market as locked-down consumers with extra time on their hands looked for recreational opportunities away from crowded spaces. The pandemic “sent [business] through the roof!,” Morse exclaimed.

This surge in popularity has shown no signs of slowing down. Attendance at Adventure Van Expo was “double in 2021 over the previous year, and another 25% higher in 2022,” Morse said.

While COVID played a part, Brady also noted that growth “began with the availability of the AWD Mercedes Sprinter,” while adding a caveat. “As return to work has increased and financing has become more expensive, we have seen some reduction in growth. In particular, the standard van builders are seeing a reduction in order rates. However, the vans with more bespoke interiors or improved capability are still performing well.”

Social Distancing and Social Media

Adventure travelers often utilize social media to share their travel experiences with others, and our panel of experts recommended maintaining a robust social presence to optimize consumer outreach.

“People enjoy a sense of community, and they like to share within that community,” Bahr said. “We have a distinct set of users in this side of the business, where they like to share their ideas, they like to share their experiences, they like to show what they’ve done, what they’ve built and what they’re using. So engaging with that community is a really critical aspect for a brand like us.”

Future Challenges and Opportunities

While our experts were optimistic for the near-term future, some expressed concerns about a slowing economy. Morse had an eye out for the consequences of the Federal Reserve’s recent inflation-fighting measures given their affect on financing costs. “A rise in interest rates may take some players out of the van market,” he said.

Still, most of our experts agreed that the smaller Class-B platform would prove resilient in the face of competition from the bigger vehicle classes. “It’s still headed favorably in our direction,” Morse said. “We have a very economical and maneuverable platform with the diesel Sprinter. For couples, you can’t beat it. You can get into 19-ft. spaces and still have a bed, bath and shower.”

“The majority of the growth will come from the brand name offerings as they have access to the dealer networks and financing required for volume sales,” Brady said. “The most pressing challenge is chassis availability, with demand for Mercedes AWD Sprinters exceeding allocations. We need more AWD van options from companies like Nissan and RAM.”

As bigger players such as Airstream and Thor bring their own Class-B vans to market, our experts agreed that adventure vans’ public profile only figures to increase in the near term.

“The bigger players are definitely going to make an impact and actually make the industry stronger by having more visibility, driving more traffic and attention to the van market,” Bahr said, adding that “they’ll typically create a standard footprint with maybe two or three floor plans, and try to drive mass volume with that.”

“With the big RV brands starting to market vehicles into this segment, it certainly shows that stockholders are taking note,” Miller added. “As this market segment continues to grow and evolve, we will likely see interesting innovations in space management, lighter material introductions and technology improvements leading to a better consumer experience.

“The pressing challenges are in better regulation and accountability. All the rapid growth the market has seen comes with a more is better mentality which can lead to a lack in quality control. An increase in education creates an elevated experience for the end consumer.”

For the future, Morse pointed to electrification as the next big potential growth driver. “I think we need to work on E-vans sooner than later. If we get them into the 400-mi. range (fully loaded), we will see an explosion in the market.”

Bahr also noted the future movement “towards self-sustaining power, which has been massive, using solar energy to power the battery packs to then power up refrigerators, cooktops and whatever else may be within the van.

“We’re facing some economic headwinds right now, so things are kind of stabilizing a bit temporarily, but we still see a lot of growth potential in this area.”

“I also think we’ll see some of the same supply problems, be they vehicles or materials, that the industry is facing now,” Morse added. “Larger players will take bigger allocations, and the secondary market should see a bump in inventory.”

“There is already a leveling of demand and the beginning of consolidation within the segment,” Brady concluded. “This is typical, and we are watching the players closely. The economy will dictate the next shift.”

Thu, 11/17/2022 - 17:46

By Ashley Reyes

ARMOSocial media is a great tool for reaching targeted audiences and promoting a brand. Automotive aftermarket shops, businesses and builders should keep up their social-media presence in order to establish brand authority and create awareness of their products or services. Doing otherwise is like leaving money (or free promotion) on the table.   

SEMA-member businesses are invited to learn how the Three Cs of social media (calendar, content and channels) can help build a brand during a live webinar on December 15, at 10:00 a.m. (PST).  

Participants will connect with and hear from two of the industry’s leading social-media experts: Barry Alt, founder of Motorhead Digital and a digital marketing expert focused on the restoration, performance, race and restyling segment of the automotive aftermarket, and Dan Kahn, founder of Kahn Media and a published author and photographer with more than a decade of experience in print and digital publishing, public relations and marketing.  

In just one hour, attendees will learn:   

  • The importance of building a social-media calendar, how to do it and software that might help. 
  • How to plan out content, where to find ideas when you get stuck and how to create content that builds engagement to your audience and not just pushes information. 
  • How to determine what social-media channels will work for your business, and the pros and cons of each channel.   

The webinar is presented by the ARMO council, which will also share a short update on the council’s initiatives. Elevate your social-media strategy by registering today.