For many in the custom-car industry, the SEMA Battle of the Builders is a chance to prove that they are among the best. The 2017 competition began with nearly 300 applications from builders representing an elite group of individuals who have demonstrated extreme talent, creativity and craftsmanship in modifying cars, trucks and SUVs. The field was not only the largest to date but was also deep in entries of exceptional quality. This year also saw the expansion of the Young Guns recognition, which shines the light on young, up-and-coming builders in the automotive industry.
New wheels are among the easiest personalizations consumers can make to their vehicles and have therefore become a staple of the specialty-equipment industry. More than adding style, new wheels can affect functionality and performance, which means the segment is continually evolving. How can the market stay on top of the latest advances in design, materials and manufacturing processes? The answer is the annual SEMA Show, where all that and more is on display.
After 51 years, the SEMA Show has become many things. Once primarily a marketplace for hot-rod parts, the Show has grown to embrace all things automotive, commingling varied tastes, disciplines and business models—all under one roof. It’s the one place in the world where you’ll find a customized Lamborghini sitting next to an outrageous hot rod, flanked by a 1,000hp Camaro and a custom Harley. With 12 distinctly different segments represented, the SEMA Show creates crossover possibilities and an energy far greater than the sum of its parts.
SEMA is governed by a Board of Directors, with directors nominated and elected by the trade association’s membership at large. Board directors serve three-year terms, while the chairman-elect automatically assumes the role of chairman after completing a two-year term. The 2017–2018 Board was empaneled at the annual SEMA Leaders and Legends Installation Gala, held July 28, 2017, at the Sheraton Fairplex in Pomona, California.
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.
Located in the Skybridge between the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central and South Halls, the SEMA Show New Products Showcase displays about 3,000 products each year, all organized by Show section. In addition to new releases, there is also a “Featured” category, where exhibitors highlight their signature or best-selling products. Each entry is displayed with detailed product and contact information, making follow-up easy for buyers and media. With all these products gathered in one area, it’s the most efficient way to find new products and generate new business.
Kawasaki has been working in the industry for nearly 40 years and began volunteering for SEMA when he started his first company, Exports International, in the late ’80s. Since then, Kawasaki has held key elected positions and appointments, including three terms on the SEMA Board of Directors as SEMA secretary/treasurer and as chairman of the SEMA Show Committee, and he was appointed by the United States Secretary of Commerce to the Automotive Parts Advisory Council.
The SEMA Hall of Fame was established in 1969 to honor the contributions of leaders in the automotive aftermarket industry whose creativity, diligence, generosity and industriousness have significantly contributed to the industry’s growth. The award is the automotive aftermarket’s highest honor, and the Hall celebrates the legacies of a pantheon of automotive legends from the racing, manufacturing and media sectors.
Still riding the wave of a recent marketplace shift, the utility task vehicle, better known as the UTV or side-by-side, is at a major crossroads. Intensive growth in product development and surging sales have helped the side-by-side to become a new staple in the off-road community.
Hot Rod Alley at the SEMA Show includes a mix of street rod, custom car and street-performance products and services pertaining to everything from classic ’30s vehicles to ‘70s musclecars and beyond. This diverse category showed growth for the third consecutive year at the SEMA Show. For 2016, the number of companies exhibiting in the hot rod segment grew 2% and occupied 4% more square footage on the Show floor than in the prior year.