It’s no secret that off-roading—especially Jeeping—drives one of the specialty-equipment industry’s largest segments. With roots to the post-World-War-II era when returning servicemen began discovering American backroads with their trusted surplus Jeeps, the off-road category remains a wildly diverse playground for specialty-equipment parts, accessories and lifestyle products. What’s more, Jeeping and recreational off-roading have spread to emerging international markets in the last decade, notably China and the Middle East. The mainstreaming of off-road motorsports is in part responsible for this vigorous segment’s growth, but the real race nowadays is among OEMs to win the attention of consumers who have never blazed a trail but would like to.
Aaron Gable and James Herring began their careers in the automotive industry like so many pioneers: with genuine passion. Bitten by the off-roading bug early, their enthusiasm for the hobby dates back to their childhoods. Growing up just a few miles apart in rural Georgia, the duo spent years with wrenches in their hands, learning every nook and cranny of what’s under the hood. Ultimately, their fun weekend activities created the foundation for Gable and Herring to become co-owners and operators of Jack’d Off-Road.
While identifying multiple growth opportunities for the specialty-equipment industry, the recently released “SEMA Advanced Vehicle Technology Opportunities Report” (p. 118) also raises questions of innovation, preparedness and best practices. To dig deeper into the fundamentals, SEMA News turned to SEMA Vice President of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak.
With 2018 well under way, if your business hasn’t yet tapped into the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) aftermarket, doing so now could have you leading a new trend. Available from a range of infotainment and consumer-electronics manufacturers, current aftermarket safety-enhancement offerings run the gamut from do-it-yourself to professionally installed products encompassing head-up displays, forward-crash avoidance, blind-spot detection, night vision, lane-departure warning, adaptive front lighting, and surround-view camera systems, along with backup cameras and sensors. What’s more, their market potential is huge.
Wheels and tires are fundamental to every automobile and therefore remain aftermarket staples. The “2017 SEMA Market Report” estimates the current custom wheel market to be worth $1.21 billion in sales, while performance and special-purpose tires top $2.22 billion combined. Add an off-road and plus-size tire market estimated at another $1.62 billion, and it’s easy to see why 370 wheel and tire manufacturers flooded the 2017 SEMA Show floor to debut more than 175 new products alongside hundreds more of their legacy offerings.
In today’s world of big-box online retail giants such as Amazon, individual stories of family-owned, niche retail shops are few and far between. The story of Forbidden Diesel and its manager Shane Marler, however, stands in stark contrast to this trend.
Your business invented a new product and took the time to patent the invention. Now you have a pretty plaque on the wall commemorating your patent grant, but what else can you do with those rights? How does your business realize a return on its patent investment?
With the SEMA Show wrapped up and a new year on its way, SEMA-member companies are busy absorbing the latest aftermarket trends and adjusting their marketing and sales strategies for 2018. The task can seem overwhelming, especially after experiencing the dizzying array of new products and innovations that flooded the recent Show.
If you think the drive toward more vehicle autonomy and connectedness won’t impact your business, think again. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and connected vehicle technologies (CVT) are already flooding the OEM marketplace and rippling through the aftermarket in new and unexpected ways, reshaping the design, production, sales and servicing of a surprising array of parts and accessories. The only question is whether your business is ahead of, keeping pace with, or behind the rapid wave of opportunities heading our way.
The ’80s were a lively time for Jim Maher, a racer born in Ohio and transplanted to California after high school. He competed in the California Independent Funny Car Association (CIFCA) series and, as a true enthusiast, knew the intricacies of his blown alcohol Funny Car better than he knew himself, making him the go-to guy for advice both on and off the dragstrip. As Maher’s knowledge and experience grew, so did the number of those coming to him for coaching, mechanical assistance and general racing wisdom. In 1987, Maher took over as the president of CIFCA, tasked with growing the series and overseeing operations while simultaneously running his own racing team.