Business

Identifying Performance Parts Trends

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The automotive specialty-equipment industry was born in the racing and performance segment. In fact, the original name of SEMA, now the Specialty Equipment Market Association, was the Speed Equipment Manufacturer’s Association. While the name and the industry evolved to include an array of more than 7,000 businesses, racing and performance still deliver the iconic images that people associate with automotive accessories.

In large measure, that niche mirrors the overall marketplace, and the trends that occur in the performance segment often offer a preview of what will take place in the rest of the industry.

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Trends on a Roll: Tire & Wheel Market

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No single element can change the look of a car or truck like a set of tires and wheels. Thin or thick sidewalls, tall or small, chrome or painted, steel or aluminum—the combinations are endless, and each can thoroughly alter the appearance and the functionality of the vehicle. At last November’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas, a group of enthusiasts who were taking part in a marketing study confirmed the popularity of tire and wheel modifications. A whopping 84.6% of them said that they had bought tires or wheels for their vehicles, and for many—regardless of the type of vehicle they owned—tires and wheels were the first accessory they bought.

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Hiring Right: Best Practices

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This series of SEMA News stories is based on the idea of using reliable and repeatable methods to ensure business success. In coming issues, we will delve into a range of topics aimed at developing Best Practices through knowledge, motivation and skills.

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The Upside of the Downturn

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As the automotive industry continues to adapt to changes in the economy and consumer spending habits, SEMA-member companies are faced with the decision to either race ahead with the new course of the specialty-equipment market or to fall behind with the old status quo. In SEMA’s recent webinar—“The Major Determinants of U.S. Automotive Demand: Factors Driving the U.S. Automotive Market”—moderator John Waraniak, SEMA vice president of vehicle technology, urges members to focus on the upside of the industry’s current downturn.

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Roy Littlefield - Tire Industry Association Executive Vice President

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Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), gives lectures to students as part of his “hobby”—a job as an adjunct professor of politics and American history at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. But he isn’t interested in lecturing SEMA about the decline in tire manufacturers’ participation in the annual SEMA Show. He’d rather talk about how to lure the manufacturers back.

“The bottom line is communication,” said Littlefield. “The big companies want to feel like it is their show.”

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Wayne Croswell -Tire Industry Association President

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When his software company asked him to become vice president of operations for a newly acquired tire industry company, tires had “no appeal for me whatsoever,” said Wayne Croswell. That was 32 years ago. Now, Croswell is president of ASA Tire Systems and the new president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA).

“I fell in love with the industry and the people, and it got into my blood,” he said.

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