Nineteen industry professionals are vying for a position on the 2011–2013 SEMA Board of Directors. The SEMA Board provides strategic direction to the association and plays a critical role in shaping the future of the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Election materials were mailed to the primary contacts at eligible SEMA-member companies within the corresponding categories May 17. The voting process, which is entirely electronic this year, will be ongoing until voting closes June 14. Election results will be published in an upcoming issue of SEMA News.
The 2011–2013 SEMA Board of Directors Candidates
SEMA News—June 2011
Get to Know the Nominees
SEMA News collected biographical information and statements from the candidates running for positions on the board. The remarks and opinions expressed by each candidate are solely his or her statements. SEMA does not take responsibility for the accuracy or content of any of the candidates’ messages. The statements made by the candidates do not necessarily represent the views of SEMA. Candidate information is presented in alphabetical order by category.
For more information about the 2011–2013 SEMA Board of Directors election, contact Judi Ritchie at 909/978-6671.
The 2011–2013 SEMA Board of Directors Candidates:
Joel Ayres (Incumbent)
MANUFACTURERS’ REP CATEGORY:
Jeff Bates (Incumbent)
Candidates for Manufacturer Category
Joel Ayres (INCUMBENT)
I have 38 years of experience in the aftermarket industry. I am presently vice president of sales and marketing for Takit LLC and previously was national marketing director for Truck Accessories Group LLC.
- SEMA Board of Directors, four terms
- SEMA Executive Committee
- SEMA Board LTAA/SBN Liaison
- Chairman, SEMA Scholarship Committee
- Chairman, SEMA History/Hall of Fame Committee
- Chairman, SEMA Council Growth and Directions Task Force
- Chairman, SEMA WD of the Year Task Force
- Chairman, SEMA Person of the Year Committee
- Chairman, SEMA Charity
- Gala Task Force
- Chairman, SEMA Cares Committee
- SEMA PAC Board
- SEMA PAC Presidents Club
- SEMA Jobber/Retailer Task Force
- SEMA Board Nomination Committee
- SEMA OEM Task Force
- SEMA Warranty Assurance Task Force
- SEMA Hall of Fame Committee
- SEMA Show Committee
- TCAA Board
- LTAA Select Committee
Other board experience includes Sacramento Heartgallery Board, Big Brothers of NE Indiana Board, Spiritual Life Center Board of Trustees and Richmond City Councilman.
- SEMA Person of the Year
- SEMA Ambassador of Excellence
- SEMA Ambassador of Achievement
- LTAA Hall of Fame
- LTAA Chairman’s Award
- TCAA President’s Award
- TCAA Outstanding Service Award
- Outstanding Contributions to the Light-Truck Aftermarket–Trucking Times
- Chairman’s Award–JB Poindexter Co.
During my previous four terms on the Board I’ve attended many SEMA events, council, committee and task force meetings to hear your voices. I’ll continue this dedication as your representative and work for the benefit of all SEMA members. SEMA needs to be the strong leader supporting and guiding our members. This association has to be the voice of experience and calm and have leadership, fiscal responsibility and, most importantly, a positive attitude. I would appreciate your vote and your support.
In 2005, SEMA chose John to be chairman of the newly formed State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus sponsored by the SEMA Government Affairs office. The caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who work to protect the rights of enthusiasts across the United States that now includes close to 500 legislators. While in the Senate, he sponsored the SEMA-model Street Rod and Custom Vehicle bill legislation, which remains the purest integration of SEMA’s model in the United States and continues to provide a haven to legally title and register nearly any vehicle an enthusiast can create.
John also has a strong background in the aftermarket as an enthusiast. He is a seasoned fabricator and CAD user having designed and fabricated his own motorcycles and modified a variety of cars in his spare time. He also formed the company Meccanica as an outlet for his designs and still works in his spare time to develop custom motorcycle and car parts. Like most SEMA members, he hopes that one day his passion will provide his primary income. Currently, he is designing multiple motorcycle chassis and working to modify his ’66 Pontiac LeMans into a Pro Touring daily driver.
In 2010, John joined 3M Company’s Motor Vehicle Systems and Services division as the West Coast Regional Manager. He continues to put his knowledge of motor-vehicle titling, registration and emissions issues to work for SEMA as a volunteer, remaining ever committed to keeping the aftermarket alive and well.
Providing SEMA meaningful direction on behalf of thousands of small-business interests would be a high honor. My emphasis will be on two fronts: 1) Helping SEMA connect and align small business with its services; 2) Helping continue SEMA’s outstanding federal and state efforts to keep open land open and invasive restrictions on vehicles at bay.
I began as a counter grunt and warehouse worker at Dar-Van. Then, I worked at Phoenix retailers Giant Off Road and Fly-N-Hi, where I was GM.
In 1987, I went to work at Mr. Gasket as vice president for the off-road division. In the early ’90s, I moved to Ohio to work as vice president for Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels. In 1992, I rejoined Mr. Gasket in Cleveland as marketing director. In early 1996, I became president of TrailMaster Suspension, which was acquired by and eventually sold by Lund in 2002. Next was MasterCraft Safety, where I served as president. Since 2007, I have been sales and marketing director for Bestop’s aftermarket business.
Working for Mr. Gasket was a formative experience with great early mentors—Joe Hrudka, Steve Bloom, Gary Biggs and Craig Manchen—along with many other excellent co-workers, manufacturers’ representatives, suppliers and customers.
At TrailMaster, I oversaw doubling of business and quadrupling of earnings, where I gained experience with P&L, payroll, finance, supply chain, investment, mergers and acquisitions.
I positioned MasterCraft for fast growth by establishing finance alternatives; dove into new channels and expanded OEM military sales; created and executed marketing plans; and altered operations to meet demand for aftermarket and OEM products.
I have been the contact at LTAA, MPMC, ORBA, AUSA and the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. I also served with SEMA companies on the SEMA/SAE Aftermarket Systems and Suspension Group.
Thanks to my father, I have been a lifelong enthusiast, along with thousands of miles Jeeping in the ’60s and ’70s. I enjoyed a semi-successful decade or so off-road racing during and following college. Raising a family of three won out over speed and sponsors.
I have been active in supporting SEMA by serving on various committees. I was an active member in the Young Executives Network (YEN) and was a founding member of the Street Performance Council (SPC). It has also been my privilege to serve on the Board of the National Engine Parts Manufacturers Association, and I am actively involved in the PWA and the AWDA. I am also a Trustee for Cleary University, a private business school in Michigan. These experiences have prepared me in a unique fashion to be an active contributor to the Board of SEMA, and I would like very much to have such an opportunity.
In addition to being passionate about cars, engines and this industry, I believe that SEMA’s priorities should be the following:
Continue to work with governmental agencies at the federal and state level for the benefit of our members and our environment;
Assist members with the challenges and opportunities we face from the changing social trends of our customers and how they buy our products;
Work with the OEMs on warranty and vehicle complexity issues to protect our member’s ability to compete in the future;
Be actively involved in assisting our members to establish an international presence so that they will have new opportunities for expansion.
Please consider casting your vote for me. I want to serve and promise to actively participate on your behalf to help SEMA work for you and your business.
SEMA is uniquely positioned to address legislative challenges facing SEMA members and enthusiasts. Regulations and laws designed around automotive replacement parts are not always friendly toward vehicle customization or performance products and accessories. Legislation has already outlawed many forms of modification that were once common. Manufacturers cannot address this problem easily on their own.
SEMA also should foster industry collaboration and best practices through programs and services that evolve to the changing needs of the market and SEMA members. The SEMA data pool initiative is an example of a program intended to improve the flow of product information from manufacturers to distributors and resellers while reducing cost.
I am a vice president at K&N Engineering with responsibilities in sales, marketing, operations and information technology. I have worked in the SEMA marketplace and automotive parts manufacturing for 14 years, and I have 25 years of experience in operations, engineering, marketing and management. My education includes degrees in engineering and management.
I have been a member of the SEMA Business Technology Committee (BTC) for several years. I have participated in BTC projects and several SEMA task force projects. I have been a speaker at several SEMA-sponsored conferences, including the Manufacturers’ Rep Council (MRC) annual meeting, the Aftermarket eForum conference hosted by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and the AAIA National Catalog Managers Association (NCMA) conference. I have participated on projects for the AAIA Technology Committee.
I am passionate about racing and performance but also about promoting the street car customization lifestyle and ensuring that it remains a healthy segment of the aftermarket. I will work to encourage collaboration on marketing, legislative issues, technology, industry best practices and member services to strengthen and grow the SEMA market.
Mike Spagnola (INCUMBENT)
Dear Industry Leader,
Running an automotive aftermarket business in today’s climate is tougher than ever. Because of this, it is crucial that our association and its Board be active in the areas that protect and nurture the growth of automotive aftermarket manufacturers.
I understand the cost of doing business and the pressure that we manufacturers face in all aspects of our businesses. I pledge to help guide SEMA’s role in our survival and growth. I intend to continue to bring my experiences and knowledge to the Board as we shape its decisions and future.
Over the past couple of years, I have served on the Executive Committee and Governance Committee, chaired the SEMA Show Committee and chaired the SEMA Show ’N Shine and Gala Fundraiser.
In addition, I have been very active in the SEMA Cares Committee and have served as the liaison to LTAA. In November, I was honored as SEMA’s Person of the Year.
I have been blessed to be involved in the automotive industry for more than 35 years and have served as a volunteer on several committees with SEMA for more than 15. I live and breathe all forms of our industry, and I believe that I will serve the diverse SEMA membership with integrity and fairness. I ask for your vote to allow me to represent you as we look confidently to the future of our industry together.
President, Street Scene Equipment
I believe I am uniquely qualified for the SEMA Board. I have had both the experience of working at a large company and the experience of starting my own business from scratch. SEMA was built in large part on small innovative companies that grew their sales and reputations inside the scope of SEMA’s mission statement. I think I am a perfect example of what SEMA can do for any business in the automotive aftermarket. As a business owner that struggled greatly during the startup, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the benefits that come from SEMA membership.
I have spent my entire life surrounded by the most influential and innovative people in our industry. I feel very lucky to have had so many excellent mentors in my professional life that were, and are, icons in the automotive aftermarket—the most significant being my father, Greg Weld.
I have been involved with SEMA directly for several years through the YEN and WTC. I have had the privilege of serving on the WTC for the past six years as a Select Committee member. More recently, I served on the Pro Panel discussion for the WTC Learn & Show event, and I have been on the SEMA Show Committee for the past year.
If elected, I plan to focus on legislation that affects the automotive aftermarket; mentor programs that ensure the future and relevance of SEMA; and technology to better serve the SEMA membership. I feel I owe a lot to our industry and hope to have the chance to serve it as it has served me.
Currently serving on SEMA’s Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) as a media advisor, I was honored to receive their 2011 Media Person of the Year award. Believing it’s important that my company actively participate with SEMA, I have encouraged three of my top managers to join several councils that include SPC, ARMO and YEN. I’ve attended the SEMA Show since 1994 and, because of my motorsports experience, have worked with more than 500 manufacturers and retailers. My company collaborates with the NHRA to ensure our series are alternative sanctioning organizations and with the SFI Foundation to issue and administer standards for specialty/performance automotive and racing equipment.
SEMA must protect our industry and its reputation in the face of radical changes within the automotive segment. As the only candidate whose company produces performance automotive events, I will be able to provide SEMA with a unique perspective and experience that contributes to making the right decision the first time. Also, the Internet, social media and technology are rapidly changing all industries, and I hope to work with SEMA to further ensure our members are a proactive part of this change.
If elected to the SEMA Board of Directors I will put my 17 years of motorsports and publishing experience to work for our industry and a brighter future. I would appreciate your vote and will work hard to live up to your expectations.
Jeep Worthan (INCUMBENT)
As in the past, there are numerous issues facing our industry and the association today that the Board must focus on. Issues, such as the continued encroaching legislation constantly bombarding us by both state and federal legislators; the rapidly emerging changes in vehicle technology and assisting our members in responding to those changes; the ongoing education for segments of our membership, such as installers and countermen; member benefits; and others. Perhaps the most pressing issue facing us today is our struggling economy and its effect on our industry. How are we going to help our association members survive during these trying times? I am experienced, passionate and truly committed to the welfare of our association, its members and our industry. I am ready to tackle these challenges and more.
I have been in the industry professionally for more than 40 years and was an active enthusiast for many years before that. I have been actively involved with SEMA since the early ’80s and have served previously on the SEMA Board of Directors. I have served on or chaired numerous SEMA committees and task forces. I am an active member of MPMC, YEN and HRIA. I was a two-term MPMC Select Committee member when it first became a council, and I am currently the Board liaison for MPMC.
I am anxious to serve our association and you, and once again humbly ask for your vote. I thank you for your vote of confidence, and I look forward to representing you on the SEMA Board of Directors.
Candidates for Manufacturers’ Rep Category
Jeff Bates (INCUMBENT)
- Bob Cook Sales Inc.–Memphis, Tennessee, Manufacturers’ Rep, 1989–present
- Rep South–Sam Compton & Associates–Hendersonville, Tennessee, Manufacturers’ Rep, 1984–1989
- Dunn & Grasso Performance–Bristol Pennsylvania/Trenton, New Jersey, Sales–Purchasing 1976–1984
- Royal Auto Supply–Colmar, Pennsylvania, Store Manager, 1974–1976
Outstanding Career Achievements:
- SEMA Board of Directors 2009–2011
- SEMA Board Executive Committee 2010–2011
- Honored several times with rep awards from WDs and manufacturers.
- Named MSD Ignition’s 2006 Rep of the Year; nominated for the PWA Person of the Year award.
- Have been a member of Bob Cook Sales for 23 years. During that time, the company has received four SEMA Manufacturers’ Rep of the Year Awards. In 2006, I became one of three principal partner/owners of the BCS agency. My biggest industry and personal accomplishment has been earning the respect of my colleagues, account base and manufacturer clients.
- SEMA Board of Directors
- SEMA Board Executive Committee
- Manufacturers’ Rep Council
- Served on several manufacturers focus and steering groups
- Category management training
I’ve always had a passion for automobiles and racing and have been fortunate enough to turn this passion into a career. I became involved in drag racing while in school and pursued it for several years. Those years spent under a car hood and at the race track have provided me invaluable experience that has helped me throughout my career. After moving south to the Charlotte area, I forged business relationships that have kept me close to the NASCAR scene. I attend multiple NASCAR, Drag Race, Circle Track and street-rod events throughout the year on behalf of the manufacturers I represent and call on a very diverse customer base made up of retailers, WDs, professional race teams as well as engine and car builders.
I began my career in 1984 as a rep covering the St. Louis marketplace. I joined Gantt-Thomas & Associates, Inc. (GTA) in 1989. I have been with this organization for more than 20 years. In 1999, Tom Schaefer and I bought the agency. Our firm is Midwest based with eight associates. My role at GTA is to manage our sales force and national accounts and oversee the finances for the company. I am eager to use my experience and abilities to serve you on the
I believe our Board must continually evaluate SEMA programs to focus resources and energy on those that will bring the most benefit back to our members. As a voice for the manufacturers’ representative segment to the SEMA Board, I will support these significant initiatives:
- Continue to explore new and improved ways of communication with our members.
- Strengthen our membership with relevant services and benefits that meet today’s needs.
- Making our voices heard and protecting our interests.
- Create new ways to educate our members, resulting in a more savvy aftermarket.
- Work to keep the SEMA Show a vital tool well into the future.
Your voice does matter. I will make myself available to listen and to be your advocate. After all, SEMA is our association, and you’re empowered to elect our leadership. I welcome your input and ask for your vote.
Feel free to call me at 913/438-7772 or drop me a note at email@example.com, and let’s talk.
Industry and personal involvement:
- SEMA MRC Chairman, 2008–2010
- SEMA MRC Committee Member, 2000–2008
- SEMA Scholarship Committee Member, current
- SEMA/PWA Liaison, current
- SEMA Person of the Year Awards Committee Member 2009
- SEMA Washington DC Rally, multiple years
- AAIA Rep Chairman and Committee Member
- AAIA Government Affairs Committee Member
- AAIA Marketing Committee Member
- Christ Church Anglican Board Member
- Light House Kansas City Board Member
- Sudan Sunrise Board Member
Candidates for Distributor/Retailer Category
- Retail—Overseeing the operations of 55 4Wheel Parts retail stores in 17 states provides an understanding of the needs of the store owner/manager.
- Internet and Catalog/Mail Order—Understanding of the Internet and how it impacts our industry from data needs to search engines to social media.
- Wholesale Distribution—Realize the challenges that distributors face in today’s changing environment.
- Manufacturing—The Pro-Comp and Smittybilt brands were developed at Transamerican over many years. I have learned how to make brands succeed through multiple channels.
I grew up in this industry and have a passion for anything with four wheels and an engine. After graduating ASU with an accounting degree, I earned my CPA and then joined Transamerican where my heart was. I began my career in store operations at a time when we had 15 stores. In 2000, I was promoted to vice president of sales & operations, and in November 2005, I became the CEO.
In 2006, I was named one of the “Top 5 Most Influential People” by Off Road Business magazine. In 2009, I was named to the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) Board of Directors, where I still serve. ORBA’s function is to fight for land-use rights.
As a true enthusiast, I have been involved in off-road motorsports since the early ’90s. I began racing in the desert, but today my focus is in short-course off-road racing in the competitive Pro-2 class.
If elected, I will work hard to meet the challenges that face our industry, such as government regulatory issues, education programs and the data pool efforts while making unbiased decisions that are in the best interest of SEMA.
Thank you for your consideration.
Donnie Eatherly (INCUMBENT)
Dear SEMA Member,
I began my career at P&E in 1974. After school I rode the bus downtown to the shop and swept and cleaned install bays. From those humble beginnings, I’ve worked in every capacity of our family-owned business for more than 30 years from stockboy to my current capacity as president. We received the SEMA WD of the Year Award in 2004 and 2009.
I have attended the SEMA Show for 25 years, PWA conferences for 22 years, countless racing events and various trade shows; held car shows and jobber shows; and hosted jobber training events.
I have chaired and participated in the following:
- Current WTC SEMA Board Liaison
- Current SEMA Marketing Task Force member
- Current SEMA Political Action Committee President’s
- SEMA Executive Committee member 2009
- SEMA Rep of the Year Chairman 2005, 2008
- SEMA Election SOP Task Force 2007
- SEMA W/D, Person, Rep of the Year SOP Task Force
- SEMA Data Pool Program volunteer
- SEMA Mentoring Program
- Current PWA President
- Current PWA LRP Chair Person
- Three-time PWA Board of Director
- Chaired PWA Person of the Year Committee 2009
- Chaired PWA Manufacturer of the Year Committee 2008
- Hosted Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Division 2
Championships 2009, 2010
We should continue to invest in our future, market our industry to the general public, target the youth and let them know how exciting it is to work in it and what career opportunities we have for them.
We must continue to look at the technology and standardized data issue so we can wring out more efficiency across all channels, which will lead to better electronic cataloging for our industry, making it easier to sell our products.
Dear SEMA Members:
Our company, Baxter Auto Parts was founded in 1936 by my grandfather. I officially started my career in the automotive aftermarket in our Baxter Auto Parts retail stores. Baxter Auto Parts is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2011. The specialty-equipment market is a key component of our business. Performance Warehouse was born out of Baxter Auto Parts in 1969 and was awarded the SEMA Warehouse Distributor of the Year award in 1994 and 1999. I am now charged with overseeing all aspects of our warehouse locations as director of warehouse operations. I am responsible for inventory management, warehouse expenses, customer relations, sales initiatives and all facets of warehouse operations.
I am involved in the industry and have been on the Performance Warehouse Association board as a director since 2006. The key to serving on an association board is putting the association’s agenda ahead of your own agenda. We have seen many changes in how business is done, and it is an exciting time in our industry. New opportunities are constantly emerging, and as an association we need to help our members identify these new markets.
In the past I have participated in motorsports through drag racing and the Sports Car Club of America, racing throughout the Pacific Northwest. Most of my time is now devoted to running our family business and helping my two sons keep their Jeeps on the road.
I would appreciate your vote and the opportunity to serve on the SEMA Board of Directors.
My employment history and achievements include:
- Manager, KPMG [now BearingPoint], Internet strategy practice
- Director, Business Development, InstantAuto.com, acquired by Vesta Insurance
- Vice President, Car.com/Stoneage, acquired by Autobytel
- Vice President of Strategy, DXS Financial Services
- Senior Director, Parts and Accessories, eBay Motors; currently head of entire eBay Motors business unit, representing more than 25% market share of automotive time spent online, current annual global sales exceeding $4B.
- Doubled sales volume of parts and accessories sold on eBay Motors in the United States from 120M to more than 250M
- Drove growth in eBay Motors listings from 1.5M to more than 18M.
- Board roles with DSA, TASC, DXS and SEMA SPC Council
- Board member, local charity and non-profit, Baylands Quarter Midget Racing Association, dedicated to the advancement of children in the sport of racing, in which my 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter actively participate.
Most of my life has been dedicated to the automotive industry. My family owned and operated multiple franchise dealers, so I was exposed early to the family business—a passion that goes beyond the board room. My father, Paul Rhodes, was a dirt track racing champion, and my fondest memories revolve around racing—something that’s been passed to my son, who is actively involved in the sport as a national quarter midget champion.
With 29 years of experience in the industry, I’ve dedicated my career to providing customer satisfaction through innovative thinking. As a SEMA member for more than 25 years, I feel a personal connection to the association and especially the membership. Helping members achieve their objectives is why SEMA exists, and it’s why I am running for a seat on the SEMA Board.
My professional experience starts at Dee Zee Manufacturing where for 13 years I worked in sales, distribution, production and R&D. In 2005, I became a partner at Considine Sales & Marketing. Five years later, I purchased JR Motorsports where I currently serve as president. We employ 30 people in two locations and specialize in dirt track parts distribution, chassis fabrication and race engine production. Currently, we are planning our inaugural Street/Strip catalog release and have partnered with several local dragstrips in support of the project.
When I was with Considine Sales, I encouraged the company to help SEMA’s YEN committee via sponsorship. I was a member of SEMA’s MRC from 2005–2010. I also volunteered my time last year to SEMA’s Nominating Committee. In addition to being a SEMA member, I belong to PWA, AMA, NRA and NFIB, and I have exhibited at IMIS, PRI, Big Twin and the SHOT shows. When asked about my personal interests the answer is simple, “operating anything that burns fossil fuels.”
Your vote and your support are deeply appreciated.
Van Woodell (INCUMBENT)
I am the owner of Weathers Auto Supply, a regional WD located in central Virginia since 1980. Previously, I worked for a small 4WD shop in North Carolina. I have been an employee, an installer, a general manager and an owner of a truck and automotive-related business my entire career. I still enjoy the challenges of my business and going to work every day. My passion turned into my vocation; it doesn’t get any better than that.
- SEMA Board of Directors 1997–2003; 2007–2011
- Chair-Software Committee
- Executive Committee
- Rep of the Year Committee
- Chair-Person of the Year Committee
- Nominating Committee
- Governance Committee
- Data Pool Evaluation Task Force
- PRO council member and Board Liaison
- LTAA council member
- SEMA PAC founding member and President’s Club member
- PWA member, two-year term as President, 10 years
Board of Directors
- Virginia Automotive Parts and Service Association
- Dinwiddie County Airport Authority Board of Directors.
- YEN Vanguard Award 2008
- LTAA Hall of Fame 2009
- SEMA Hall of Fame 2010
I enjoy anything with a motor, boating, golf, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and attempting to relax, which I do very poorly.
Over the years I have established great relationships with manufacturers, retailers, reps and competitors. I will work tirelessly to represent all segments of our industry. I would appreciate your vote.