By Kristopher Porter
More than 75 young automotive industry innovators and entrepreneurs entered the running for the chance to present their new product/service to a judging panel made up of industry leaders at the sixth annual SEMA Launch Pad Powered by YEN. Through this program, the grand-prize winner will receive a package to help launch their business to the next level, including a booth at next year’s SEMA Show to formally introduce their product/service to the industry, along with a $10,000 award to be used for the benefit of the winner’s business.
The votes are in and the top 10 finalists have been determined. These young entrepreneurs will compete in the live event at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Be sure to catch their pitches and find out who will be named the 2018 SEMA Launch Pad Winner, Monday, October 29, from 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., in the Westgate Theater.
In addition to the live competition, Show attendees can meet the contestants and ask questions about their products at the Launch Pad Corral, located in the Performance Pavilion. Each finalist will have a kiosk-style booth where they will be on hand to dive into the details of their products/services and discuss potential partnerships.
Below are the 2018 SEMA Launch Pad Finalists:
George Schafer, president – SMS Auto Parts Co.
Product: Exposed Racks
Exposed Racks is a patented roof rack system that has zero effect on vehicle aerodynamics when not in use. The Quick Clip system allows users to click-in accessories, such as kayak mounts, in less than one second. Fits various vehicle rooftops.
Kansas Sartin, owner – PAKMULE LLC
Product: Automotive Cargo Products
PAKMULE is a fully TIG-welded cargo carrier. One-hundred-percent aluminum, PAKMULE will never rust, weighs 42 lbs., and yet is burly enough to handle 500 lbs. of cargo. It is designed to easily secure and access all your gear while a proprietary locking, anti-wobble connection keeps everything secure.
Jonathan Hurley, owner – ToolBox Widget LLC
Product: ToolBox Widget
ToolBox Widget is a 100% modular tool organizing system for your toolbox. Individual wrench organizers allow the customer to add or subtract the amount of holders as needed, allowing for complete customization of their toolbox. Features include strong magnets, missing tool indicators, changeable size labels and a flexible material.
Matt Beenen, owner – BuiltRight Industries
Product: Storage and Organizational Solutions
The BuiltRight Industries Bedside Rack System adds modular mounting panels to the inside walls of a normally featureless truck bed, enabling users to quickly and securely mount their choice of tools, equipment and accessories. These OEM fit-and-finish steel panels require no modification. Easy installation with basic hand tools.
Christopher Owens, owner/CEO – Creative Fabrication and Coatings
Product: Last Drop Wrench
The Last Drop Wrench allows you to drain filters in a safe and controlled manner before removal by puncturing them while still attached, making the traditional messy oil change a thing of the past.
Stephen Hale, partner – Stohd Outdoor
Product: Exoskeleton Utility Trail Door
The Stohd Exoskeleton is a patented trail door system for Jeep Wranglers. The doors have a protruding design to which specifically engineered attachments are mounted, such as folding chairs, camp stools, lockable high-impact dry/cool storage boxes, recovery gear/ramps, off-road tools, first aid kits and more.
Zach Kowalik, co-owner – Quick Covers
Product: Quick Covers Corrosion Solutions
Quick Covers are precision-molded plastic covers that fit snugly over rusty areas on your vehicle. They restore the original appearance, yet cost only a fraction of the price of traditional repair. They can’t rust, and combined with a corrosion inhibiting pretreatment, will provide a like-new appearance for years.
Ed Uehling, co-founder – King Tailgates
The KT1 is an upgraded aftermarket replacement option for OEM tailgates. The utility-patented design splits the construction of a standard tailgate to allow for the incorporation of enclosed seating, dual oversized cup holders, a removable Bluetooth speaker and USB charging ports.
Ryan Amesbury, founder – Amped Technologies
The LevelUp allows electric-vehicle owners to install a fast (Level 2) charger in their garage without having to pay an electrician $1,000 to install a 240-volt outlet. This (Level 2) charger increases the charging speed from 4 miles to 25 miles of range per hour of charge.
Todd Earsley, co-founder – My Shop Assist
Product: My Shop Assist
My Shop Assist is a web-based project management system designed specifically for aftermarket shops. Users can schedule jobs, delegate tasks, log hours, track parts orders, store pictures, create invoices, determine employee efficiency and communicate progress to customers. It even integrates with QuickBooks to track accounting.