It’s exciting and inspiring to once again be in full SEMA Show mode. On our end, we are finalizing new Show features and details for what looks to be another record-breaking gathering of our industry. We hope that your plans are coming together as well, but we know that doing the advance work to assure a smooth and productive Show—especially for exhibitors—can sometimes seem overwhelming. We want to remind everyone that SEMA has excellent tools available to help.
SEMA has a long history of working with young people to help them find their way in our industry. One of the earliest initiatives, the Young Executives Network, now has more than 1,200 members, providing a broad base for peer-group interaction and networking.
Throughout this spring and summer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you through our regional town hall meetings. These informal meetings allow industry members to have personal interactions with SEMA senior leadership, to share information about business concerns, and to learn more about the association’s programs and objectives.
SEMA is well-known for producing the automotive aftermarket industry’s leading trade show, the SEMA Show. But what many members don’t know is that SEMA works throughout the year to provide our members with other tools, services and events that can help them grow their businesses.
As part of our planning for the SEMA Show each year, we poll our exhibitors, buyers and media from the prior Show and carefully review the results. I’d like to thank the 3,000-plus folks who responded to our most recent study, sharing with us your aims, perceptions and ideas for the SEMA Show. And good news: Both buyers and exhibitors report very high satisfaction with the Show, and we see their enthusiasm as preregistrations for the 2017 SEMA Show roll in at record levels.
As we monitor, measure and guide our progress here at SEMA, we have developed data points that help us understand how well our member-benefit programs are working. Many times, those signals can vary, but data points can align and crystallize on occasion, making what was cloudy suddenly obvious.
Here’s the situation: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently considers converting a street car or motorcycle into a race vehicle a violation of the Clean Air Act, and the sale and installation of parts used to convert a vehicle are deemed illegal as well. An amendment to the Clean Air Act, in the form of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act now pending in Congress, would reverse that EPA position and permanently eliminate any question about the legality of racing conversions.
One of SEMA’s strategic aims has been to involve the younger generation, awaken an interest in all things automotive and perhaps even help young people to find careers in the automotive space. In recent years we have developed a number of programs that work toward that goal, and today the SEMA board is making its youth initiative a top priority.
It has been four years since SEMA made the commitment to acquire, preserve and support the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show and magazine. At the time, SEMA leadership recognized an opportunity to build a strong relationship with the racing and performance segment—a group that was not much represented within the SEMA membership. Some questioned how the PRI world could benefit from what SEMA had to offer; others doubted that the two organizations could coexist without compromising one identity or the other.
The 50th anniversary SEMA Show brought resounding confirmation that the original idea was good back then and perhaps even better today. For many of us, this year’s Show was a mix of past and present, of new beginnings and a moment to pause and consider memories from years past—all within the greater understanding that the our industry trade week in Las Vegas is about important business in the years ahead.