Three individuals are being recognized for contributing and shaping the automotive specialty-equipment industry by being inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. The three individuals being inducted this year are Richard “Dick” McMullen, Chuck Schwartz and Van Woodell.
“This industry is fortunate to have leaders like these gentlemen whose integrity and accomplishments have enhanced and significantly contributed to its growth over the years,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO. “While each of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees made a very different kind of contribution to our industry, one trait unites them: a true, deep passion that drove them to high levels of achievement. It’s an honor and a pleasure to recognize Dick McMullen, Chuck Schwartz and Van Woodell to SEMA’s Hall of Fame.”
Created in 1969, six years after SEMA’s formation, the Hall of Fame award recognizes members of the automotive specialty-equipment industry whose ingenuity, enthusiasm, integrity and hard work formed the industry’s foundation and shaped its growth over the past four decades. The qualifications for Hall of Fame membership are rigorous. Nominees must have contributed to the industry on a national level and have been involved with the industry, or SEMA, for a minimum of 10 years. In addition, nominees must have made significant contributions toward enhancing technology, professionalism, dignity and/or the general stature and growth of the industry with a high degree of integrity.
Van Woodell – President, Weathers Auto Supply
Like many in the automotive aftermarket industry, Woodell had an early love for cars. Just six years after breaking into the industry, Woodell opened the first Weathers Auto Supply in 1980 and expanded to become the leading independent accessory warehouse in the Southeast United States. While running his business, Woodell donated a significant amount of time to helping the specialty-equipment industry grow and prosper through his commitment to various industry associations. He is recognized by his peers for his easy-going leadership style and his ability to mentor and inspire others to reach their true potential.
Woodell served three consecutive two-year terms on the SEMA Board of Directors from 1997–2003. He was again elected onto the Board in 2007 and in 2009. He is currently on the Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors and has served on Rep of the Year, Person of the Year, Governance and SEMA Executive Committees and various task forces. Serving the industry outside of his affiliations with SEMA, Woodell held a seat on the board of directors of the Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) for many years and is currently serving as its past president.
Richard “Dick” McMullen, McMullen Advertising
McMullen, who passed away in 2005, was instrumental in the formation of SEMA and in shaping the industry. He began his career with Drag News before moving on to Elliott-McMullen Advertising, where many of the first SEMA meetings were held and some even claim that SEMA was founded. A car lover and avid enthusiast, he played a key role in establishing the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Foundation and served on a number of SEMA committees.
In 1979, McMullen—along with fellow SEMA Hall of Famer Bob Vandergriff—purchased Hedman Hedders. The two turned the then-troubled company around, and today Hedman Hedders is one of the industry’s most successful organizations. The company has been recognized multiple times as the PWA Manufacturer of the Year and many of its executives have served on the SEMA Board or on various committees. McMullen was a forward-thinking leader whose passion for the industry resulted in significant contributions to the industry.
Chuck Schwartz, ConvExx
Schwartz got the automotive bug early in his career. His first job in the industry was working as a tire changer and stock clerk for the Abel Corporation in the '50s. After working as a welder, installer and salesman in a tire and muffler shop, he was instrumental growing a one-store operation into a national chain of retail automotive stores and service centers. He was recognized as the first mass merchandiser in the United States to feature speed equipment.
In 1966, he launched California Racing Specialists, a company that built super stock race cars and sold race parts and accessories along with race trucks and pre-runners for the first Baja 1000. After selling that company, he launched Pioneer 4-Wheel Drive Center, building engines, suspension, parts and accessories for off-road vehicles, along with Pioneer Van Center, a van conversion company.
Schwartz learned about the trade show business while serving on the show committee for the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association (APAA). He was one of the founders of the Off-Road Equipment Association (OREA) and helped launch and produce the OREA Off-Road Show which he followed by launching Auto Internacional, the only trade show specifically for parts and accessories for import vehicles. After SEMA acquired this show in 1982, Schwartz’s companies have been producing the SEMA Show, making this his 29th year.
The Hall of Fame inductees will be officially recognized at the SEMA Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, Friday, July 23, 2010, at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California. The event, which is part of SEMA’s Leadership Days program, includes dinner and includes the formal induction of the newly elected SEMA Board members.