||The ARMO New Products Showcase at Spring Carlisle takes place April 26–28, 2012, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Deadline is Near!
The deadline to submit your best new restoration products for the 2012 ARMO New Products Showcase is Friday, April 13, 2012. Don’t miss out on this exciting and exclusive ARMO-member benefit. The event takes place April 25–29, 2012, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and online registration is now open.
The ARMO New Products Showcase puts your product in front of 100,000+
automotive restoration enthusiasts in the country at Spring Carlisle. In addition, each product is
professionally photographed while on display. The photograph is posted
in a gallery on the ARMO website and is also shown in video displays in the ARMO booth and during the ARMO awards reception at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
For only the cost of shipping, your product effectively gets a full
year's worth of exposure. This is available only to ARMO members and is
included with the annual ARMO membership fee. Don’t miss out, register your restoration product now.
For more information, contact Jim Skelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARMO Licensing Guide Now on SEI
ARMO members may now access the ARMO Trademark Licensing Guide online. Previously available only in hard copy, the Guide is now located on the ARMO education track on the SEMA Education Institute (SEI).
ARMO Licensing Overview:
Ever wonder how a company gets a restoration product officially licensed
by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) carmaker? ARMO members can
now find introductory information from three OEMs, including preliminary
application forms, in one document.
Obtaining a trademark license is one of the few remaining processes that
cannot be accomplished "online" or with a simple application. OEM
carmakers are very proud and protective of their trademarks. There are
many steps involved in order to display an "Officially Licensed" logo on
your product. Just finding out where to begin can be a daunting task.
The Trademark Licensing Overview provides ARMO-member companies with the
information they need to begin the oftentimes lengthy process in one
handy reference document. Ford, GM and Chrysler have supplied contact
information, application forms and general process overviews. While the
Overview is not a complete guide to trademark licensing, it does provide
you with information necessary for all those important first steps.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? ARMO Is!
Be sure to follow ARMO on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/armo and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
ARMO Column in SEMA Member News
Read ARMO's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For more information about ARMO, contact Jim Skelly.
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||HRIA is looking for top hot-rod builders to participate in the annual Pinewood Builders Challenge.
Calling All Hot Rod Builders
HRIA is sponsoring the annual Pinewood Builders Challenge and looking
for top hot-rod builders or custom vehicles to take part in this charity
event. Builders will be given small blocks of wood to complete their
own unique and one-of-a-kind pinewood race car. All cars will be raced
at the annual SEMA Pinewood Drag Races and then placed on display at the
annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. In addition, the cars will be placed on
eBay for auction, with all proceeds going to two great children’s
charities—ChildHelp and Victory Junction Camp. To participate, contact
Eric Saltrick at email@example.com or 704-483-9343 for more information.
Hot Rodder Highlight: Melanie Rushforth, Rushforth Wheels
Melanie Rushforth started her business—Rushforth Wheels—approximately five years ago in Tacoma, Washington, and, like many others within the automotive aftermarket industry, she enjoys the people she meets at shows and other venues. With the help of the Internet, she has also built many relationships through Rushforth Wheels’ online forums.
Rushforth’s current project vehicle is a ’64 Buick Skylark. It's the ultimate love story. Rushforth and her husband were looking for a project and found this ’64 Skylark on Cragislist.com. The car had everything they wanted and the original owner lived about a mile from their front door. Like a dream come true, the Skylark was at its new home that afternoon. Today, you might see Rushforth, her husband and the car that was meant to be theirs from the start taking a cruise on the beach.
However, Melanie’s true passion is late ’40s/early ’50s trucks, which she would use to transport her dogs and bikes and play in style.
On a personal note, Rushforth spends much of her time volunteering with non-profits and in the rotary. She is also an officer on the Board of Tacoma Community College and was named a 40 Under 40 in 2009 and a 2010 Woman of Influence in the Puget Sound.
Rushforth and her husband share their excitement for the industry with their 16-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. Even though they travel a lot for work, it’s not nearly enough for pleasure. “If everyone we knew bought wheels from us, I’d make a point to spend more time on the beach in a tropical location,” she said.
SEMA's Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) thanks Rushforth for her continuous support.
Have You Registered a Patent or Trademark? Your Competition Has
Protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of its members is a
top SEMA priority. The process begins when companies register their
patents, trademarks and copyrights with government agencies in the
United States (and other countries). Registration is a key to
establishing legal rights.
To assist its members, SEMA has created a webpage called Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights,
explaining the different types of IP, including protecting new products
(utility patents) and product designs (design patent), identifying the
source of the product (trademarks) and protecting product brochures or
website designs (copyright). It also contains information on how to
register IP along with links to seminars, webinars and SEMA News articles.
With respect to enforcing IP rights at the SEMA Show, the association
has developed an effective policy for pursuing infringement allegations.
SEMA’s IP enforcement policy is posted on the IPR webpage and is also
published as part of the Exhibitor Services Manual. Questions may be
directed to Stuart Gosswein (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? HRIA is!
Be sure to follow HRIA on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/hria and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
HRIA Column in SEMA Member News
Read HRIA's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For more information about HRIA and how to join, contact Zane Clark or call 909/978-6696.
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LTAA Technical Resource Available on SEI
LTAA is pleased to announce the launch of an LTAA education track for the SEMA Education Institute (SEI). LTAA members may now reference and download a number of technical resources from the new LTAA learning track that were previously available in hard copy only. Now, LTAA members have the information at their fingertips via an Internet connection.
Resources currently available are:
- LTAA Pickup Truck Bed Dimensions – pdf
- LTAA Keyless Entry Connection Guide – pdf
- LTAA CHMSL Wiring Connection Guide – pdf
- Why Paint Colors Vary – video
“This is very exciting for the Council,” said LTAA Chairman George Lathouris of Keystone Automotive. “These reference tools are always appreciated by installers and counter people in the field. SEI provided us a solution that keeps the tools as an LTAA-member benefit and makes for quick and timely updating of data. LTAA members received an e-mail recently with instruction on how to access their account on SEI. I encourage all members to get familiar with this LTAA education track because this is only the beginning—I promise you!”
Learn more about the LTAA education tools.
Not yet an LTAA member? Download an application or contact Jim Skelly at email@example.com or 909-978-6690 for more information.
What's the Value of Being an LTAA Member?
New Products Showcase – Put your product in front of one of the largest gathering of truck enthusiasts in the country at the Carlisle Truck Nationals.
Networking – LTAA mixer at the Carlisle All Truck Nationals, Annual Long-Range Planning meeting and access to LTAA members and light-truck industry professionals around the world.
Tools and resources for the retailer and installer – "Pickup Bed Dimensions Sheet," "Keyless Entry Wiring Pickup Points Reference Sheet," "Why Paints Don’t Match" DVD and more.
Education – and LTAA-specific learning track on the new SEI from SEMA, coming soon!
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? LTAA Is!
Be sure to follow LTAA on all of your favorite social networking sites.
To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/ltaa and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
LTAA Column in SEMA Member News
Read LTAA's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For more information about LTAA, contact Jim Skelly.
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How MPMC Membership Can Benefit Your Motorsports Business
Does your company manufacture parts used in sanctioned motorsports events? The Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC)—a SEMA
council—provides a number of benefits to its more than 200 member
Benefits include access to a best practices reference guide dedicated to
common manufacturing business questions, contact information for more
than 200 fellow motorsports parts manufacturers and an opportunity to
have three days of 30-minute meetings with editors from print and
MPMC members produced the “Business of Engine Building” seminar at the
2011 PRI Show in Orlando. From left to right, veteran engine builders
Tracy Dennis, Keith Dorton, Ron Hutter, David Reher, Scott Shafiroff and
Carl Wegner answered questions from moderator Alan Reinhart. Have an
idea for another seminar topic? Join MPMC now and help make it happen!
Four Reasons to Join the MPMC:
- Business Guidelines Manual: Written, produced and designed
specifically for performance product manufacturers, the manual addresses
the many challenges faced by manufacturing companies like yours.
Definitions, resources, options, examples and even sample documents are
included in the various sections. Each section is written and formatted
for quick and easy referencing. Topics include bar coding, catalogs,
counterfeiting, electronic data exchange, freight policies and much
more. The manual is available for download or viewing, but only to MPMC
members, through the SEMA Education Institute (SEI) MPMC Education Track.
- Media Trade Conference: Another opportunity unique to MPMC, and available only to MPMC-member companies, is the MPMC Media Trade Conference (MTC).
The MTC brings 100 MPMC manufacturers together with 200+ editorial
staff from national and international media for three days of 30-minute,
face-to-face meetings to discuss editorial content. Space is limited
each year to 100 manufacturers, selected via lottery, but only MPMC
members have the opportunity to participate.
- Industry Outreach: MPMC members work with other industry
contacts to produce seminars, panel discussions and events for the
benefit of not only fellow manufacturers, but the shop owners and
consumers who ultimately use their products. This past year at the PRI
Show in Orlando, Florida, MPMC hosted a two-hour discussion in which six
of the most renowned engine builders in the country shared their
business experiences with an audience of 150+ shop owners and aspiring
- Networking: MPMC hosts various events throughout the year to
further promote relationship building. A networking breakfast at the
U.S. Nationals and a Hall of Fame Breakfast at the PRI Show are examples
of how MPMC works to bring manufacturers together with media and other
industry colleagues. In addition to meetings with the media, the Media
Trade Conference also offers two evening receptions, lunches and break
periods that present myriad networking opportunities.
MPMC is the only SEMA council dedicated specifically to manufacturing
companies. If you are not already a member, there is no better time
to join than right now. Membership is only $100 annually and an application is available on the MPMC website.
Contact MPMC’s staff liaison Jim Skelly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? MPMC Is!
Be sure to follow MPMC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/mpmc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
Take a Friend to a Race Fan Page
The MPMC Motorsports Awareness campaign, highlighted by the Take a Friend to a Race program, now has its very own Fanpage on Facebook. If you’re not a fan yet, you should be!
MPMC Column in SEMA Member News
Read MPMC's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about MPMC, contact Jim Skelly.
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Why Using a Manufacturers' Rep May Be the Right Move for Your Company
Here are the top 10 reasons why your company should use a rep:
1. Results Driven. Our success is your success. Reps are highly motivated to sell your products because they make money when you sell products.
2. Cost Effective. Better utilize your time and resources. Minimize the labor and travel expenses of hiring your own employees.
3. Territory Expansion. You get the instant benefits of territory and customer knowledge that takes years to learn.
4. Relationships. Reps already know companies with whom you want
to do business. Take advantage of strong, pre-existing relationships
that have been cultivated through trust and action.
5. Quick. Hiring a rep is quickest way to get results and to get your “feet on the ground” selling.
6. Access. Your products and services will have better exposure with your customers because reps are already doing business with them.
7. Sales Calls. Focused and increased face-to-face time with your customers equals greater sales.
8. Training. Field training and professional development sets
reps apart. Reps will educate your customers about the features and
benefits of your programs and services.
9. Feedback. Get instant and accurate feedback on your products and programs.
10. Industry Knowledge. Receive an insider’s perspective that allows you a clearer understanding of the “ins and outs” of your industry.
Interested? Want to know more? The SEMA Manufacturers' Rep Council (MRC) can answer your questions and share more reasons why hiring an Independent sales rep may make sense for your company.
A Message From MRC Chair Wade Cobb
The MRC council has been chipping away at what our Long-Range Planning
session of 2010 identified as a need—benefits for our membership! MRC
recently put a program together with TeleNotes,
offering our members a business tool to elevate their company’s ability
to capture data and reporting. We are also continuing to work on travel
programs, possibly offering an “MRC” rate at our industry events, such
as PWA and the SEMA Show, with select lodging. We also recognized the
need to reach out to our general members and non-members to determine
what it is they need from MRC.
In February we conducted an online survey to 3,500 rep agencies
associated with SEMA to find out more about reps and how MRC can
maximize its efforts as a council to provide you with benefits. Thanks
to all who took the time to respond; it’s the only way we can build a
better MRC. Just as any council or association, it’s imperative to get
the feedback from members on what works or needs to be fixed. As we move
on reviewing the data MRC has been able to obtain through the survey
and the information from our LRP, the council will continue to put
action plans in place to address the concerns.
Looking to continue the efforts put forth by our members, MRC attended
the MPMC Media Trade Conference held in Los Angeles this past January
with the purpose of representing MRC to the manufacturers present. MRC
Chair-Elect Chris Fairless and I had an MRC room all three days of the
event, conducting meetings with members interested in utilizing reps and
showing them the value of using rep agencies. We provided each
exhibiting company with an MRC brochure and offered the MRC DVD for
additional information. Both Chris and I were very pleased with the
event, realizing this was a first for MRC and a great opportunity given
to MRC by MPMC to explore the venue and take away ideas to build even
better programs for coming events. We truly wish to thank Kyle Fickler
and Vic Wood of MPMC for working with us during the MPMC Media Trade
We look forward to working with other industry segments to continue
educating our fellow industry members on the benefits of utilizing a rep
agency as their sales force. Your thoughts and comments are welcome any
time. We need to hear your voice, so please speak out!
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? MRC is!
Be sure to follow MRC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/mrc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
MRC Column in SEMA Member News
Read MRC's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about MRC, contact Zane Clark.
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Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? PRO Is!
Be sure to follow PRO on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/pro and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
PRO Column in SEMA Member News
Read PRO's column featured in the March/April issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about PRO, contact Zane Clark or call 909/978-6696.
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Connect to the Fastest Growing Committee—the SEMA Businesswomen Network
The SEMA Businesswomen Network (SBN) welcomes both women and men who work for a SEMA-member company to join the committee. Along with the benefit of joining a community of prominent industry leaders, members in the SBN offers several distinct advantages:
Networking: The SBN offers access to more than 300 members, largely composed of women who understand the challenges and advantages for working in the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Via exclusive invitations to SBN mixers at industry events and SBN events at the SEMA Show, such as the Speed Networking Breakfast, members have the opportunity to network with key influencers in the industry.
Recognition: Established in 1994, the SBN Awards have become the premier honor for recognition of industry veterans who have volunteered their personal and professional time to contribute to women in the automotive aftermarket. Also, through SBN’s Member of the Month (MoM) spotlight, select women are highlighted for acting as trendsetters in the industry. MoM spotlights receive the honor of being featured in SEMA eNews with a subscription of more than 150,000 recipients, along with a feature on the SEMA website.
SEMA Show: The SBN offers members the ideal opportunity to become actively engaged in SEMA via volunteering time to help with SBN-sponsored events. Events featured throughout the week include the Speed Networking Breakfast, Café SEMA, and the Gear-up Girl, which act as a great medium to enhance professional growth, networking and business leads.
There is no cost to join SBN, just many opportunities to meet other women in the industry who are as equally committed to professional growth as you are. Join the SBN now!
You Ought to Be in Pictures!
The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network committee is a great resource of minds. All ladies in the specialty-equipment industry can join the SBN, so pass the word around to your colleagues and friends! We are encouraging all new and existing SBN members to log-in to the MySEMA portal to update their profile with a photo so we get to know each other's faces before the SEMA Show.
And don’t forget to turn your notifications settings “ON” so you can stay in “the loop.” Want to know more about the SBN? Interested in becoming a member?
Want to get involved in the industry but don't know how? We have an app for that! Go to www.SEMA.org, click on the Leadership tab, click on Council/Committee, click on SBN and join! Don't delay—get involved and join now. You are just a few clicks away! We look forward to "seeing" everyone!
Don’t Be Out of the Loop—Stay in Touch
The very best way to stay in touch and to read the latest news, discussions and topics posted from SEMA and the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) is to make sure that your notification settings are turned on in your MySEMA account. Next to your photo on your MySEMA page, at the top right, is a link to the "Edit My Settings" page.
On the “settings” page, look for the “notifications” tab, where it will ask how you would like to receive your news. Check whichever method is most convenient, but either way, make sure you're in the loop by turning “on” your notifications. Visit http://my.sema.org to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? SBN is!
Be sure to follow SBN on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/sbn and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
SBN Column in SEMA Member News
Read SBN's column featured in the March/April issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about SBN, contact Bryan Harrison.
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Find the Business Possibilities Through the SPC
Participate in the automotive aftermarket at a whole new level by joining the SPC.
The purpose of SEMA councils is to help our member companies succeed
and prosper. In the SPC, our mission is to provide market information,
education and support to our members concerning new and emerging
trends. Whether it’s the latest business technology, forecasting sales,
future marketing solutions or up and coming vehicle platforms, we give
you and your company the chance to see what’s on the horizon.
Then we’ll help you understand and acquire the skills, tools and
technologies to lead the way. The SPC has the most diverse membership
of any SEMA council, and that will allow you to network with other
professionals from every facet of our industry and gain insights into
areas you may not have previously considered. Find out about the parts,
people, technologies, strategies, trends and, most important,
This is your chance to give something back to the industry, your
profession and to grow personally along the way. Join the SPC today and
become an active member of the specialty equipment and automotive
market — Tracie Nuñez, Advanced Clutch Technology, SPC Chairman
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? SPC is!
Be sure to follow SPC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/spc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
SPC Column in SEMA Member News
Read SPC's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about SPC, contact Bryan Harrison.
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Wheel and Tire Professionals Discuss State of the Industry at SEMA Headquarters
Wheel and tire professionals gathered at SEMA Headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, for an open discussion to help guide the strategic direction of SEMA’s Wheel and Tire Council (WTC). “The meeting was full of awesome information, especially for someone like me who fields dozens of phone calls from the enthusiast up to the highest levels of purchasing,” shared Blake Warner of Primax Wheel Corp.
||Wheel and tire professionals gathered at SEMA Headquarters in Diamond
Bar, California, for an open discussion to help guide the strategic
direction of SEMA’s Wheel and Tire Council (WTC).
Much of the conversation focused on continuing concerns revolving around tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), including their lifespan, the servicing of and opportunities for an additional revenue stream. In an attempt to help members better address TPMS, The WTC has made a webinar available through SEMA’s Education Institute (SEI) entitled, "TPMS 101: Identifying and Understanding the Opportunity," presented by Russ Fuller of Revolution Supply Co.
Other topics included the Wheel and Tire Council's continuing effort to work with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) on wheel testing standard J2530. The WTC strongly supports the standard, but has concerns over the implementation of a conformance and registry program that could potentially increase the cost for aftermarket wheel manufacturers and ultimately extend the scope of the standard beyond it original purpose. At the same time, the WTC recognizes the importance of a voluntary testing mechanism that legitimizes the use thereof and addresses any misrepresentation of the standard.
Based on the open discussion and in working with the Tire Industry Association (TIA), the WTC has also made it a priority to increase communication to its retail members in order to provide technical and sales training, as well as best practices that help improve consumer awareness. To help accomplish the Council’s agenda, the WTC Select Committee will make a concerted effort to solicit the participation and expertise of its general membership.
To get involved, please email Zane Clark at email@example.com or follow the Member Resource Pool link.
Don't Miss WTC Long-Range Planning Meeting and Industry Discussion February 8
The WTC Long-Range Planning Meeting and industry discussion will be held Wednesday, February 8, 2012, at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, from 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Lunch will be served. Get feedback and provide your thoughts to industry leaders during the open discussion. Whether you have questions regarding testing standards, increasing sales, vehicle technology or other pertinent issues, come to the open forum and share your thoughts.
Have you ever wondered how to get more involved in the SEMA Wheel & Tire (WTC) Council?
What exactly do the council leaders do throughout their term? Very simply, the Select Committee is elected by members of the council to serve a two-year term. They participate in monthly conference calls and meetings that are held at various trade events throughout the year. Each Select Committee member volunteers for at least 20 hours throughout the year, and some volunteer even more. Some share their experience and vision, others provide creative solutions to challenges our member companies are facing and others get their hands dirty and get it done. Each Select Committee member is supported by their company in their WTC efforts, and for that we say “thank you” to those companies!
The leaders of the WTC gathered last year at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, for its annual Long-Range Planning meeting. This meeting focused on bringing value to the WTC-member companies. The past 18 months have been extremely challenging for all of our companies and the council is dedicated to utilizing SEMA’s resources to further benefit each WTC member.
Guiding the group’s effort was the council’s mission statement to “identify common problems and opportunities relating to the wheel and tire industries that the council, as an interested body of companies, can address for the common good.” A handful of exciting objectives are being developed for the council over this year and next. If you are passionate and have an interest in being involved, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer for a task force with a limited investment of time that provides a great way to network and share your ideas. Please reach out to the task force chair if you want to participate or have comments.
Science and Technology Task Force
Tim Dietz (Standards Testing Laboratories Inc.) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This group focuses on aftermarket and OEM advances that affect our industry. From creating wheel standards to improved processes for tire-pressure monitoring systems and electronic stability control, the Science and Technology Task Force plays a pivotal role in the industry’s advancement.
Education Task Force
Kelly Austin (Ultra Wheel Company) chairs this group and can be reached at email@example.com. The education task force is charged with developing successful programs for members to enhance their businesses. The WTC Task Force is responsible for partnering with the SEMA Educational Institute to create and promote online learning resources.
Communication and Marketing Task Force
Doug Frymer (Law Offices of Douglas A. Frymer) chairs this group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This group focuses on membership outreach, growth and retention. It is imperative that councils effectively communicate services provided by WTC and SEMA to our members. Communication and services ensure that there is proper dialogue between leadership and membership.
SEMA Show Task Force
David Insull (American Tire Distributors) chairs this group and can be reached at email@example.com. The SEMA Show in Las Vegas provides the backdrop for critical networking functions. This group focuses on making WTC’s awards reception an ideal place to get together, honor one another and network with all those who share a common passion.
There are so many other things the council leadership does throughout the year. You are the expert at what your business needs and this council wants to deliver. Feel free to get in touch with us or come to one of our WTC events. Our hope is that, if you haven’t been a part of WTC yet, you will be in 2010 and beyond.
Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? WTC is!
Be sure to follow WTC on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/wtc and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
WTC Column in SEMA Member News
Read WTC's column featured in the March/April issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about WTC and how to join, contact Zane Clark or call or 909/978-6696.
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SEMA YEN Member of the Month Spotlight
Mark Stek, Marketing Director, Kelderman Air Suspension Systems
At age 35, Mark Stek, an Oskaloosa, Iowa, native, and Iowa State graduate, currently holds the position of marketing director for Kelderman Manufacturing. Also known to SEMA members as Kelderman Air Suspension Systems, Kelderman is a diverse and unique SEMA-member company that manufactures and fabricates everything, from agricultural parts to air suspension systems for a customer base that is as diverse as their products.
||Mark Stek (left) with celebrity client Rampage Jackson.
A 12-year veteran with Kelderman, Stek grew up around the automotive industry as the son of a hot rodder. He now applies a synergy of his sports marketing/management degree emphasis with his hot-rodding roots to foster relationships with celebrities and bring added value to both his company and his customers. We sat down with Stek to discuss his experiences working with VIP customers and how they may benefit other young executives in our industry.
How did you get started with celebrity/VIP builds?
The UFC's Rampage Jackson approached us a few years ago at the SEMA Show. He already had a lifted truck, but really wanted our suspension on it. Once the logistics were worked out, his truck came to our shop in Iowa and we totally transformed it. We created a video for YouTube that showed the build from beginning to end and that has really increased our exposure. Our celebrity clients, so far, all have reached out to us to receive our product.
What’s the best part about developing this type of business?
The best part about working with celebrity customers is that it is really a neat experience for all of our employees. When they visit our facility, everyone is eager to meet them and maybe get a picture and/or autograph. The guys we have worked with have been more than accommodating, which makes it a lot of fun.
What do you find to be most difficult when working with this type of clientele?
The most difficult part about working with celebrity customers is that their scheduling is very complex. Celebrities are often short on time on a fairly consistent basis. In Rampage’s case, he was training in the U.K. while we were working on his truck. He was coming back to the States for a couple of weeks to visit family, so we had a very small window of time in which the truck needed to be complete and he could visit our facility for the “reveal.” In other instances, you might be dealing with working around the end of a baseball season as was the case with Wes Helms. Being able to meet their schedule and their expectations are very challenging.
How do you find and cultivate these types of contacts?
We want the process to be as “organic” as possible. We know there are celebrities out there who like what we can offer, but maybe haven’t heard about us. Informing them about us is important so they can make a decision based on what they want rather than forcing it. We are confident that we have a great product and the satisfaction of our customers really speaks to that. We work closely with our outside PR agency (Martin & Co.) that, when necessary, can use their more appropriate contacts in order to help us develop a relationship between Kelderman and a particular celebrity.
How do you utilize those relationships and builds in a positive way to impact customer interaction with your brand or products?
We try to utilize the celebrity status of our customer in as many ways as possible to help promote our company. We had Rampage sign autographs at our SEMA Show booth in 2010. We have also included our celebrity customers in some of our promotional material, ads, website, Facebook, etc., in order to help people associate that celebrity with our brand.
What benefit does Kelderman receive from working with celebrities?
The benefit that our company receives from being associated with celebrities is that it increases credibility. When you consider the fact that they are able to have the best of the best and they choose your company, it says a lot. It also allows our products more exposure and the potential customers to associate a product they may be unfamiliar with to someone that they may already be familiar with.
What advice would you offer to other YENsters looking to reach out to build these types of relationships either on their own or on behalf of their company?
When doing anything to help grow a company, you must use every resource that is available to you to your fullest advantage. Developing relationships and trust will take time, so be patient.
Are there any specific advantages that you feel the younger people in our industry may have when working with celebrity/VIP customers? Any disadvantages?
A younger generation in the industry will have more experience with a younger, up-and-coming crowd of celebrities, so that will allow for a better understanding of the market to which that celebrity will appeal to. There is a good chance that a celebrity will be similar in age, so conversations about personal interests, family, etc., will even be easier.
SEMA Young Executive Insight
Ed Monte, Director of Sales, MSD Ignition
The consummate “nice guy,” Ed Monte has a reputation in the automotive aftermarket as one of the friendliest, most outgoing and positive people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. Having worked his way up from taking customer service calls to director of sales at MSD Ignition, Monte firmly believes in the value of hard work, maintaining a positive attitude and building relationships.
Monte grew up in the Southwest and began riding Honda XR dirt bikes as a kid, exploring the desert and learning the terrain—a good primer for a budding desert racer. It also taught him to respect machinery. From there, he became interested in off-road racing, but focused on business in school knowing he’d need a real “day job” to support his passion for racing. After earning his business degree and working for a speed shop that specialized in desert racing, the Texas native got his first job out of college with MSD Ignition.
Monte was hired as a jack-of-all-trades sales and marketing clerk, when he realized he was able to make a living talking about his passion—cars and trucks. Monte began making friends and building relationships, which grew into sales accounts and long-term partnerships. He worked his way up to director of sales—a position he still holds at MSD. We spent some time with Monte to learn more about his business philosophy—one we believe would benefit SEMA members of all ages.
When did you first become interested in cars/trucks?
When I was in school, I worked for a fellow who ran a paint and body shop by day, but went desert racing on the weekends. I’d spend my afternoons at the shop tearing down off-road cars and prepping them for the next trip. I had a limited amount of knowledge, but a great mentor in the shop owner who showed me how to set the welder up and pull a motor out of a VW Bug in 30 minutes. He also instructed me that a $500 Mac 4-ft. torque wrench wasn’t to be used as a breaker bar! I enjoyed the nitty-gritty work because at the end of the day, getting behind the wheel and shaking down our Class 1 car was a treat after doing all the work on it—and I looked forward to doing it the next weekend!
What was your first project vehicle? What project vehicles do you own now?
My first “real” project vehicle (not just a driver I fixed to go to class) was an early ’90s version of a Sand Cars Unlimited four-seat buggy. Before long-travel A-arm suspension cars came onto the scene, this was your traditional 112-in. beam axle car with a whopping 1835cc Type 1 VW motor. A small car by today’s standards, it was my next evolution in keeping the dust and dirt flying in my face, and I loved it. I currently drive a ’99 BFG Project Suburban, plus I have a four-seater play buggy, two XR 600s, a CRF450X and a ’72 El Camino loaded with MSD gear I use for car shows and cruises. I also have an F-150 Raptor that’s been to Barstow for the M.O.R.E. Powder Puff.
You’ve been with MSD for a long time. Why stay with one company so long rather than jumping around?
At MSD, it’s a pleasure to work with a team of people who enjoy doing what we all do. A majority of our staff has been with the company for a number of years. We represent a company that is well known in the industry for providing quality parts. That makes it easy for me to take the time to travel on the weekends for shows and races. When you work with neat people, it’s a good thing! You spend more hours at work than you do at home in most cases, so you should really find a job that makes you happy and co-workers whom you like to spend time with. It makes it that much easier to do a good job if you love your work.
You worked your way up from a sales/marketing administrator to sales director. How did you get there?
When I was first hired, my initial tasks were to fax (yup, remember faxing everyday?) and call our reps with the information we wanted to get out. We were shorthanded in sales and marketing, so basically I helped coordinate everything from inbound purchase orders to grabbing that one last part from shipping to get it out on a Red Label for a race team. Throughout the years, knowing how to get things handled internally helped when I started working more with the reps building account relationships. When things needed to be handled, I was the go-to guy. We pride ourselves on not letting things sit. I always try to help move things along. After a couple years, I started traveling on the show circuit in addition to working some of the off-road events. Once that started, I had the privilege of becoming the person who our accounts and reps could call on, and I try to always deliver. All you have in business is your word.
What has been your biggest on-the-job challenge, and how did you deal with it?
Certainly there are several, but I’d say the very first challenge was when I started doing the jobber shows. While I was excited to travel, I was a little apprehensive about how to interact with the accounts. Not so much the public in general; I knew I could answer the consumer questions and also learn. I had freaked myself out by listening to the guys who had been on the road a lot, especially at NHRA events where the customers are only comfortable talking with their “one guy.” I thought the same when I started to do visits with our customers. Luckily, I figured out that all you can do is put your best foot forward and find out “what can I do for you?” You end up proving yourself, as yourself.
What is your proudest on-the-job moment?
I’d hate to sound too simplistic, but I’m pretty happy when I’m flying home from the SEMA Show, PRI, or any show or race where I’ve been able to be productive. It’s satisfying knowing you’ve given 100% and a great feeling when that last customer of the day thanks you for a job well done or appreciates the help.
Monte’s Top 10 Rules for Success in Sales:
10. Maintaining relationships is priority #1—try to be friendly with everyone you meet.
9. Always be honest and straightforward with customers, co-workers and yourself.
8. Know what you’re talking about.
7. Keep things in perspective—take every problem one step at a time.
6. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes—“how can I help you?”
5. Go into every situation with an open mind. Avoid pre-conceived notions.
4. Don’t be negative; always look forward.
3. Listen to people and be genuine. Don’t just wait for a turn to talk.
2. In our market, people don’t “need” our parts; they want them. Explain what you can do for them.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Customers can tell when someone knows their stuff and when they don’t. Whether setting up a booth or talking to a customer, don’t “b.s.” people if you don’t know what to do. Ask. Learn.
2011 SPC/YEN Awards
Three significant industry awards were given out at the 2011 SPC/YEN reception—including the YEN Vanguard Award, Young Executive of the Year Award and SPC/YEN Industry Icon award.
The YEN Vanguard Award was presented to John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Suspension. As a 20-year member of the aftermarket and current member of the SEMA Board of Directors, Hotchkis has inspired, influenced and mentored dozens of young SEMA members. He was an active YEN member, is active on Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) and passionate about his work on the board. Specializing in suspension for musclecars (among the first in the industry), he founded Hotchkis Performance in 1992. Since then, he has employed dozens of young people, inspiring them all. He continues to offer internships to students in the engineering departments of several local universities, and many employees whom he hired as teenagers still work for him nearly 20 years later. He recently fought and defeated cancer and he remains an inspiration to us all.
The Young Executive of the Year Award was presented to Dan Dolan of DiabloSport Inc. Dolan worked tirelessly to promote and grow the YEN membership over the past year. His enthusiasm has been a great asset in getting the general membership more involved in YEN. He has been a positive influence in the performance aftermarket arena. Dolan is the type of person that any company would want to be represented by because of his “can-do” attitude that looks at problems as opportunities.
The SPC/YEN Industry Icon award was presented to Mike Spagnola of Street Scene Equipment. As the leader of an automotive aftermarket business, Spagnola understands the cost of doing business and the pressures that manufacturers face in all aspects of the industry. Over the past couple of years, Spagnola has served on the SEMA executive committee and governance committee, chaired the SEMA Show committee as well as the SEMA Show ‘n Shine and Gala Fundraiser efforts. In addition, he has been very active in the SEMA Cares committee and has served as the Board of Directors liaison to the Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA). He was honored as SEMA’s Person of the Year in 2010.
you know that the SEMA Young Executives Network has more than 500
members networking in the industry and is the largest SEMA committee?
If you are employed by a SEMA-member company and are under the age of
39, then you can join the SEMA Young Executives Network for FREE. If
you are interested in becoming part of the team, please visit our
website at www.sema.org/yen.
YEN Member of the Month Spotlight
Did you know that YEN has a Member of the Month Spotlight on the SEMA
website and that anyone can be nominated? To view previous selections
or to make a nomination, visit www.sema.org/yen.
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Be sure to follow YEN on all of your favorite social networking sites. To find these sites, go to www.sema.org/yen and use the links in the top right-hand corner.
YEN Column in SEMA Member News
Read YEN's column featured in the January/February issue of SEMA Member News.
For information about YEN, contact Bryan Harrison.
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