Business

Utility Task Vehicles By the Numbers

A Powersports Category Snapshot

SEMA research indicates that more than a third of automotive accessory enthusiasts are likely to own a powersports vehicle. That means the powersports market offers great crossover potential for aftermarket businesses catering to other specialty-equipment segments. So what’s one of the hottest trends in the powersports arena?

The SEMA-commissioned report notes that approximately 670,000 UTV models were sold from 2010 to 2012. This is consistent with other market analyses that have predicted continued healthy growth of the segment through 2015.

The New SEMA Garage

The Innovations Center Opens for Business

The photo you see on the cover of this month’s SEMA News was taken in the newly completed SEMA Garage photo studio. It’s a shot of rock guitarist Billy Gibbons, who was kind enough to pose with his project car, which SO-CAL Speed Shop is preparing for the 2014 SEMA Show. Gibbons was on hand to view progress on the car, confer with SO-CAL designer/builders Pete Chapouris and Jimmy Shine, and to tour the SEMA Garage, which is now officially open for business.

Retail Spotlight

Tom Pickett (right) left a steady job in automotive manufacturing to build his business, Tom’s 4x4 Superstore, which opened in June 2010.Tom’s 4x4 Superstore’s Blueprint to Continued Growth Starts With Customer Service

Tom Pickett has been a Jeep enthusiast for most of his life. He bought one at the end of 2009 but quickly realized that there was nowhere to buy parts for it in Chattanooga, Tennessee. So, in February 2010, he decided to walk away from a lucrative career in automotive manufacturing and build the foundation for Tom’s 4x4 Superstore—a Jeep and off-road parts supplier and installer that officially opened in June of that year.

The Hot-Rod Market

One of the great things about the hot-rod market is the wide range of customizations embraced by enthusiasts. Vehicles such as this Cutworm Specialties rod get tricked out with every imaginable category of aftermarket parts.A Classic Segment, Still Growing Strong

Who isn’t thrilled by the look and performance roar of a classic hot rod? Virtually synonymous with the earliest days of the automotive specialty-equipment industry, hot rodding never seems to grow old. In fact, the market segment has remained incredibly resilient, even in the face of the recently bumpy economy.

SEMA Indicators

At the 2013 SEMA Show, more than 60,000 buyers joined nearly 50,000 exhibit personnel as well as thousands of media and other visitors to bring total attendance to more than 140,000 industry professionals and their guests.   A Look at Areas of Interest for Specialty-Equipment Companies

For this story, we have drawn upon information from a variety of sources that, taken together, may suggest business trends. SEMA’s trade show data, new-vehicle sales, educational tendencies and other indicators are some of these often-overlooked sources. What follows is a look at some of the areas of interest that may show where business is headed in the near future.

A Look At The Racing and Performance Powertrain Market

A Ford 408 engine by Blueprint Engines. Just one of the broad varieties of crate engines available from the engine builder.By Mike Imlay

Racers, street performance enthusiasts, four wheelers, restorers and boat owners all need engines, which means that, at some point, they tap into the performance niche occupied by engine builders and, more often than not, the specialty shops that install replacement engines. It’s a segment composed of small businesses, not-so-small businesses and by OEM crate-engine distributors—all offering powertrain solutions.

In fact, use of ready-made drop-in crate engines with known horsepower and torque specifications has become a driving force in the marketplace in recent years. In particular, the GM LS series has become...

Racing Update

Some Hot Segments to Watch

For many businesses in the automotive aftermarket, racing remains the lifeblood. This industry was founded on passion and performance, and automotive racing continues to drive product research and development and retail sales, inspiring manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike. After taking a hit from a rough economy over the past several years, racing is seeing a resurgence. While many motorsports segments are trending upward, there are a few in particular that merit watching in the coming year. Following the trends in these hot segments can lead to greater marketing success for all levels of the industry.

RETAIL SPOTLIGHT: Kings Tire & Wheels Crowned by Service and Referrals

Kings Tire & Wheel owner Sam Batanian (right) and his son “Junior”—who manages the current chain of three retail outlets—in their original store in El Monte, California.“I was about 26 years old at that time and didn’t know very much about the area,” laughed Batanian. “I soon found out that within a block there were at least a hundred mechanics. There are really no customers in El Monte. They’re all mechanics and workers here. You can’t even do an oil change on a car because everyone is doing his own.”

Nevertheless, Batanian has managed to build an extremely successful wheel and tire business over the years—so successful that he now has two additional stores in the greater Southern California area, one in Palmdale and another in Camarillo. In fact, he envisions a chain of 10 to 15 outlets throughout the Southland within the next few years.

Fresh Faces, Fresh Ideas

What’s Driving the Industry’s Young Entrepreneurs?

A lot has been said and written lately about the “aging” of the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Built over roughly six decades by hands-on parts and hardcore speed and performance innovators, the automotive aftermarket is now an industry topping $30 billion. However, questions currently abound over whether it will continue to attract younger enthusiasts—not only as consumers but as entrepreneurs.

Tire and Wheel Trends Update

Dozens of wheel and tire companies exhibited at the 2013 SEMA Show, displaying everything from fullsize trucks to power-sports products. Combinations mounted on 20-in. and larger rims were common throughout. Courtesy of Vossen Wheels Keeping an Eye on the Evolving Marketplace

Dozens of companies displayed tire, wheel and related products at the 2013 SEMA Show, providing concrete proof that the tire and wheel segments are among the most prolific within the automotive specialty-equipment industry. As always, however, evolution is constant, so SEMA News once again canvassed wheel and tire professionals for their insights into design, construction, marketing and sales trends as we enter the new year.

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