TORA - TORA at the Show

SEMA Member News - November/December 2009

Charitable Booth Display, New Home for the Reception



The TORA booth has been redesigned for the 2009 SEMA Show, but some things won’t change. In addition to the beautiful vehicles on display, SEMA staff and TORA Select Committee members will be on hand to answer questions and sign up new members throughout the course of the Show, and many of the helpful TORA member-benefit presentations will also be available.

SEMA Show 2009 attendees are invited to stop by the Light-Truck Accessory Alliance (TORA) booth # 30073 located in the South Hall. The booth has a completely new layout but will once again be highlighted by three TORA member-company vehicles. Each of the three vehicle owners will make a $1,000 donation to benefit the SEMA Childhelp and Victory Junction Gang Camp charities.

“This is becoming an TORA tradition,” said TORA Chairman Kelly Kneifl of TruXedo. “Even in good times, I’m impressed by the ease with which companies make that $1,000 donation. To see it continue in light of current economic conditions, however, is inspiring.”

Perhaps the donations come easily because members can readily see where the money goes. Over the past two years, proceeds from the display vehicles have helped TORA purchase Pinewood Derby tracks and equipment for Childhelp and Victory Junction facilities. The tracks have entertained hundreds of children who are neglected or suffer from chronic or terminal illness.

In addition to the beautiful vehicles on display, SEMA staff and TORA Select Committee members will be on hand to answer questions and sign up new members throughout the course of the Show. Many of the helpful TORA member-benefit pieces will also be available, such as CDs with content regarding altered vehicle heights, center high-mounted stop light wiring, paint matching and webinars as well as reference sheets for keyless entry and truck bed dimensions.

“The booth has been redesigned for this year so that TORA members can have a place to meet and greet with colleagues,” said Kneifl. “We’re on an end row island, which makes it easy to locate and convenient to traffic coming and going through South Hall. We encourage everyone to come by and get acquainted—or reacquainted, as the case may be.”

TORA Reception Gets New Home


Anne Johnson accepted TORA Hall of Fame honors from Kelly Kneifl (left) and Ron DiVincenzo at the 2008 Spring Expo. For 2009, TORA will present the Retailer of the Year, the Chairman’s Award and the Hall of Fame induction at a relocated reception, which will be held in the Renaissance Hotel—much closer to most member companies’ exhibit spaces.

The annual TORA industry reception, to be held this year on Wednesday, November 4, from 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m., is moving to the Renaissance Hotel. The TORA hopes the proximity to South Hall will encourage greater attendance.

“The Hilton has been a marvelous venue for our reception for many years,” said TORA Chair-Elect George Lathouris. “We appreciate all they’ve done for us. However, a brand-new opportunity presented itself this year in the form of the Renaissance Hotel, and the TORA Select Committee felt strongly that it was perfect timing to change things up a bit. The Hilton ballrooms and South Hall where the truck accessories manufacturers display are about as far apart as any two points in the convention center property can be. Attendance at the reception has always been good, but we’re betting we see some new faces this year simply because we’ve eliminated that long trek.”

Along with a new location, the reception will also include the presentation of the annual TORA awards, including the Retailer of the Year, the Hall of Fame inductee and the Chairman’s Award.

As with the Professional Restylers Organization, without the spring event for 2009, our awards were left without a home,” said Kelly Kneifl. “The SEMA Show reception was a logical alternative. We felt that part of the success of our reception at the Show had been the fact that it is truly a networking and social affair, with minimal podium time. Incorporating the awards into the program in a manner that affords adequate respect while keeping presentation length to a minimum will be a small challenge. But TORA members thrive on challenge—especially our Select Committee—so I have no doubt that the changes will all be positive and that the annual TORA industry reception will continue to bring value to all attendees.”

TORA West Coast Long-Range Planning a Success

The annual TORA Long-Range Planning (LRP) meeting was held on Thursday, July 30, in Pasadena, California. The date and location were chosen because of their proximity to the annual SEMA Installation Banquet and the Council Summit.

We knew that holding the meeting in California would be an experiment,” said TORA Chairman Kelly Kneifl. “The LRP has always been in the Midwest or East Coast, even in the Truck Cap Accessory Alliance days. But without a spring event or a truck-specific event, this was the only activity at which members might be present and, thus, be able to combine two trips into one. Given the economy, it’s difficult to assess if the change brought more or fewer attendees. However, the meeting itself was successful. We deviated from the typical LRP format and conducted a SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] analysis on the industry and on the council. The day-long discussion was very animated, and I don’t think there was a single wallflower in the entire group. The Select Committee is still evaluating the results and coming up with some action plans for the future.” 

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