Many politicians grow up dreaming of the day they will run for office. Their young adult lives are a series of tactical steps designed to build a narrative they can use as a springboard to get elected. U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) took a different path, growing a family business while competing in action-packed pursuits ranging from rock crawling to mixed martial arts. It’s no coincidence that he’s one of the most genuine and effective members of Congress, using his platform to make government a bit friendlier to small businesses and automotive enthusiasts.
From The Hill
Every business depends on predictable supply costs. When it comes to that basic entrepreneurial principle, 2018 was not a good year. The Trump administration imposed a series of tariffs with little warning. Those measures were intended to address unfair trade practices and encourage foreign nations to renegotiate trade pacts to remove or equalize duty rates. Unfortunately, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. Make no mistake, SEMA supports equitable trade but questions the methods being employed to bring other countries to the bargaining table. The results to date have been modest when compared to the upheaval being caused in the marketplace.
With November’s midterm election now behind us, the American people have once again shifted the balance of power in a different direction. Although 2016 proved to be one of the most contentious U.S. elections in recent memory, the resulting legislative landscape over the past two years has generally been helpful to the automotive specialty-equipment market and the enthusiasts who support it.
The SEMA Show moved from Anaheim, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1977, long before the phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” was coined. Las Vegas was the perfect location, providing room for the show to expand, world-class entertainment, and an exciting destination. Today, more than 70,000 buyers and 2,400 exhibitors from all over the world participate in the SEMA Show. While the SEMA Show happens in Las Vegas, the long-term business relationships developed there extend far beyond the city limits.
SEMA and other Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) member organizations welcomed a federal government final report documenting the significant economic impact of the outdoor recreation economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) found that the outdoor recreation industry contributed $412 billion to the nation’s economy in 2016 (the last available year of data), which represented 2.2% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Of note, motorized recreation and motorcycling accounted for more than $20 billion in economic activity.
On July 13, SEMA members joined with car clubs, businesses and thousands of enthusiasts to celebrate the ninth annual Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD). A wide range of events was held in the United States and Canada to commemorate the special day. The celebration was designated with SEMA-requested companion resolutions introduced in the U.S. Congress by co-chairs of the SEMA-supported Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus. U.S. Senate Resolution 574 was sponsored by Senate co-chairs Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), while House co-chairs Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-GA) sponsored U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 980.
What happens when a veterinarian, a farmer and a politician visit a SEMA-member company? This is a bit of trick question, since U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) claims each of those professions as his own. One of the most bipartisan members of Congress, Rep. Schrader is a friend of the automotive enthusiast because he is one himself. Given that, persuading him to visit the headquarters of Warn Industries in Clackamas, Oregon, was an easy sell.
U.S. Representative Norma Torres (D-CA) knows a thing or two about cars and the importance of manufacturing. When given the opportunity, she’ll proudly mention that she enjoys driving a ’66 Ford Mustang that her husband Louis restored. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time before she made her way to the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California.
It’s been quite a year for Line-X. Not only did the company open a new 60,000-sq.-ft. corporate headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, but it was also named midsize manufacturer of the year by the Business Council of Alabama and placed top in its category in Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 rankings. With those kinds of accolades, it’s no surprise that the company’s congressional representatives are eager to see what all the fuss is about. After hosting U.S. Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) last August, it was U.S. Representative Mo Brooks’ (R-AL) turn for a visit.
Most political coverage centers on Washington D.C.; however, less visible decisions made in state capitols profoundly impact lives and businesses. Statehouses are especially critical for SEMA members, as many—perhaps most—specialty auto products are directly regulated at the state level.