In what has become a highly anticipated September tradition, SEMA News is once again pleased to present the annual “35 Under 35” listing of rising industry talent. This marks the fifth anniversary of this special feature, and we think readers will agree that the young trendsetters profiled in the following pages once again prove that the future of the automotive specialty-equipment industry is in extremely capable hands.
By definition, the SEMA Hall of Fame was created to recognize outstanding persons in the automotive specialty industry whose creativity, dignity, integrity, industriousness and accomplishments, on a national basis, have enhanced the stature of, and significantly contributed to, the industry’s growth. Established in 1969, the award is the automotive aftermarket industry’s highest honor.
More than 90 SEMA members and staff from across the United States traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 11 as part of the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally. Attendees focused much of their advocacy efforts on the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, urging their members of Congress to demonstrate support for the motorsports industry by co-sponsoring the bill. These efforts were not only well received but also produced immediate results. Within days of the visit, several members of Congress agreed to co-sponsor the RPM Act as a result of the meetings they had with SEMA members.
Industry stalwarts unanimously agree that the hot-rod market is as healthy as it’s ever been. The economy is stronger than it was at this time last year, and consumers have more discretionary income to spend on their toys, partially due to low fuel prices. Although hot rodding—in the most traditional sense—is predominately embraced by aging enthusiasts, the options are diverse, and getting broader.
“Last year’s Battle of the Builders competition at the SEMA Show represents how healthy the market is,” said Rick Love, Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) past chairman and executive vice president of Vintage Air. “There were excellent examples of all the different vehicle genres to pick from. Everybody in the hot-rod industry is busy; they have more work than they can do and would like to hire more qualified people.”
Over the past 53 years, SEMA has developed a track record of assisting members in a variety of areas related to industry and business development. The mission of “helping members’ business succeed and prosper” is steeped in history and first grew out of a need for consistency and community among racing industry members. In the beginning, SEMA exclusively served suppliers of performance equipment for hot rods, and the association accomplished its purpose of uniting the industry. Members helped develop standards for racing competitions and the association continued to grow, putting the industry firmly on the map.
In addition to hot products and leading manufacturers, the annual SEMA Show attracts top vehicle builders who debut their one-of-a-kind creations in front of more than 140,000 industry professionals at the world’s premier automotive trade gathering. For many of these builders, the SEMA Battle of the Builders is their chance to prove that they are among the elite. Hundreds enter; only one can win.
“Revolutionary—that’s the easiest way to describe it,” said Lance Stander. As the CEO of Superformance, Stander knows a thing or two about replica vehicles. What has him so excited? A new law championed by SEMA and industry-friendly lawmakers in Congress that makes it easier to manufacture replica cars in the United States.
The year 2015 marked the dawn of a new era for the kit-car industry. A provision included in the highway bill now enables low-volume car manufacturers to each produce and sell up to 325 turn-key replica vehicles in the United States and a total of 5,000 worldwide under a simplified regulatory system.
It takes dedication, hard work and drive to build and grow an automotive specialty-equipment business. Even more so to grow an entire industry. Yet to help its members succeed and prosper, SEMA relies on individuals from every industry segment to step forward and bring their own vision and initiative. Consequently, it seems only fitting once a year to celebrate an individual whose contributions best embody this SEMA mission. For 2015, that individual is Kathryn Reinhardt of MagnaFlow, who found herself named SEMA Person of the Year at the recent 2015 SEMA Show Industry Banquet in Las Vegas.
The annual SEMA Show houses 13 aftermarket business categories under one roof, creating a laboratory of ideas that allows entrepreneurs to visualize novel crossover applications, managers to share technologies, and businesses to benefit from blended techniques and best practices. This year’s Show attracted trendsetters from every category and allowed them to capture an unprecedented array of business possibilities—all ultimately joined together by the automotive culture that every attendee shares.
Each year, the SEMA Installation Gala gathers the industry together to thank outgoing SEMA Board of Directors members, install newly elected leaders and celebrate the association’s latest Hall of Fame inductees. In addition, daytime events leading up to the banquet include high-level Board and council discussions along with a heavy dose of fundraising for SEMA Cares, the association’s charity initiative. This year, the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles played host to the July 24 events, with the evening’s gala emceed by the legendary “Voice of the NHRA,” Dave McClelland.