Nearly 40 SEMA-member companies traveled together to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of the fifth SEMA Middle East Business Development Program. The companies included manufacturers of engine performance, suspension, interior and exterior products and those whose products are used for racing, street performance and off-roading as well as for classic cars, restoration and hot rods. The group was in the Middle East learning about the local specialty-equipment market firsthand, tazweed-style (Arabic for customization).
Participating in SEMA’s international trips has helped SEMA members open new markets and grow business in existing markets. But participants have also learned that preparation and follow-up are key to getting the most out of the investment.
Why export? One of the proven methods to increasing the health of your firm is to diversify your customer base, which can improve your bottom line, lead to product-improvement ideas and improve a firm’s ability to ride out future economic downturns. It is also the way to reach the 97% of consumers residing outside the United States and take advantage of global demand for products made in the United States.
The United States and 11 other countries have agreed in principle to a mega free-trade agreement to eliminate tariffs and import quotas within their boundaries. Known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deal includes the United States, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and it represents 40% of the world’s gross domestic product.
Twenty-one SEMA-member companies recently traveled to Shanghai, China, for the 2015 SEMA China Business Development Program, which included meetings with U.S. government officials in the area, tours of customizing shops, including a new shop that focuses on upgrading and distributing parts solely for Mustangs, Corvettes and other U.S. late-model musclecars, exhibiting in the SEMA section at the sold-out China Auto Salon (CAS) and, for the first time, participating in a measuring session featuring the winning vehicles in a SEMA-conducted survey of top customized vehicles in China that are not available in the United States.
This is another in a periodic series of reports on SEMA-member companies that have successfully grown their international sales. Each of the companies has utilized one or more SEMA resources or programs designed to assist member companies in growing their export sales. This month’s story features Arizona-based Rigid Industries. SEMA News talked to the firm’s international account manager, Robert Park.
International sales represent some 25% of the total sales at Borla Performance Industries and are growing rapidly. The company is one of the originators of stainless-steel performance exhaust systems, and among the secrets to its success is taking direct control of its international business, said David Borla, 41, vice president of sales and marketing for the 38-year-old firm.
More than 25% of all buyers expected at the 2015 SEMA Show will come from more than 132 nations outside the United States. Exhibitors should create an action plan to attract and service international buyers visiting their booths.
The Ford Mustang, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Silverado pickup were winners of the 2014 SEMA Awards, recognizing the year’s hottest vehicles. Does your company make products for those vehicles? Do you sell your products primarily in the United States? If you answered yes to both of these questions but want to expand your sales outside the United States, SEMA’s make/model data can help you get started by giving you easy-to-use information that will help you identify the best markets in terms of vehicle registrations. Through a joint program with the U.S. Department of Commerce and IHS Automotive, SEMA has complied the data into a user-friendly resource.
Learning About the Market While Building Business
Forty-one SEMA-member companies participated in the first-ever overseas-based SEMA Garage, which featured an all-day measuring session for vehicles popularly customized overseas but not sold in the United States. The event, held at the Custom Show Emirates based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), was part of the four-day 2015 SEMA Middle East Program.