SEMA News

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Cover Story

An Interview With the New Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors

“Scooter” Brothers
has been working with cars since he could walk. He is the son of a
mechanic, and even though his dad wasn’t interested in racing, Brothers
got hooked on it while he was still in high school in the late ’60s. He
got involved with some of the men who started a company called Racing
Head Service and, with a four-year break while he served in the navy,
he’s been in the automotive performance business ever since.

 

Business

  • The 2011 SEMA Market Report is now available on the association’s website here. This annual report—free to SEMA members and $149.95 to non-members—provides an overview of the specialty-equipment industry through the end of 2010. It also includes five years’ worth of historical information that allows year-over-year comparisons of where the various segments and niches stood as the industry entered 2011.

  • How effective are your advertising and media campaigns? More important, how are you measuring your return on investment (ROI)? When marketing pros speak of “tracking media,” they’re really referring to tracking promotion, which—along with product, price and place—is one of the four P’s of marketing.

  • To paraphrase a well-worn Oldsmobile ad, today’s vehicles are not your
    father’s paint and trim. If you think modern consumers are left
    scratching their heads over how to maintain the appearance of their
    vehicles, imagine what the companies that formulate car care products go
    through.

  • Editor’s Note: Most of the specialty-equipment companies contacted in a
    recent SEMA survey said that they planned to hire new employees in 2011.
    Salespeople were at the top of the list. To learn more about the traits
    and skills of successful salespeople—and how to hire them—we contacted
    freelance writer, author and webinar speaker Troy Harrison. In the story
    that follows, he discusses the qualities of top salespeople, how to
    test for and uncover those traits, and how to interview and hire the
    right people.

  • The restyling market experienced a steady decline in sales at the retail level from 2007 through 2009, according to SEMA research, going from $4.23 billion in 2007 to $3.79 billion in 2009. The main factor contributing to the fall in the market was the recession, which led to a major decline in vehicle sales. With available vehicle inventory on the downturn, a factor that may not adversely affect the more traditional specialty automotive markets, the decline changed the landscape of the restyling market. For OEMs, assembly lines were streamlined, factories were closed, trim levels were reduced or reconfigured, and the once lengthy list of available accessory options was scaled back.

Chris Kersting

  • SEMA members tell us that market research is at the top of their list as a key member benefit. That’s understandable: With good research it’s possible to plan ahead, take advantage of growing trends and navigate thoroughly challenging times. With no research, or poorly conducted research, we’re all navigating without a compass.

Events

From The Hill

  • Auto Meter Products recently welcomed U.S. Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL) for a tour of its headquarters in Sycamore, Illinois. Auto Meter officials had already developed a working relationship with Rep. Hultgren, having hosted a previous visit and attending several other functions before last year’s election. This tour was part of SEMA’s District Site Visits Program, which connects lawmakers with SEMA members.

Government Affairs

  • Washington joined the growing list of states to enact SEMA model legislation to amend the vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and create a classification for custom vehicles. The bill was approved by the Washington State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire.

  • The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and
    its Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and Hot Rod
    Industry Alliance (HRIA) Councils announced July 8, 2011 as “Collector
    Car Appreciation Day.”

  • Law and Order is an update of some of the most recent federal and state legislative and regulatory issues that could potentially impact the automotive specialty-equipment industry. These include issues affecting small-business owners and their employees.

Industry News

International

  • A growing number of Chinese are looking to explore their country’s rougher regions by going off-road, and Jeep sales in China are surging. But China’s terrain is apparently rougher than that found in the United States—or perhaps Chinese drivers are just more radical—because U.S.-built Jeeps are not durable enough for China, an engineer with Chrysler in China told SEMA. That could be an opportunity for SEMA members.

Internet

  • Despite intense competition from social media heavyweights, such as
    Facebook and Twitter, e-mail remains a formidable marketing stalwart,
    according to a new study released in May by Market Tools
    (www.markettools.com). The researchers found that e-mail use was
    actually up among 45% of the 1,268 professionals and students over 18
    who were interviewed for the study. And only a few—4%—said that their
    use of e-mail had decreased over the 12-month period included in the
    study.

New Products

  • Whether at the dealerships or through independent specialty-equipment installers, car and truck personalization allows consumers to tailor their vehicles to their unique requirements. While market forces—both intrinsic and external—have wrought changes over the past few years, consumers have never ceased to customize and care for their vehicles.

    As with other market segments, restyling customers have increasingly turned to the Internet to research available products and the companies that provide installation services. This surge in electronic communications provides unprecedented opportunities, so restylers have joined other specialty-equipment businesses in educating themselves about website design and tracking, social media, smartphone technology and other emergent marketing channels.

  • Lincoln Electric, Palmer Performance Engineering, Parrot Inc., Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, Scosche Industries, EngineQuest, Mark 7 Machine & Radiator, PlastiKote.

People And Places

  • An Interview With the New Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors

    “Scooter” Brothers
    has been working with cars since he could walk. He is the son of a
    mechanic, and even though his dad wasn’t interested in racing, Brothers
    got hooked on it while he was still in high school in the late ’60s. He
    got involved with some of the men who started a company called Racing
    Head Service and, with a four-year break while he served in the navy,
    he’s been in the automotive performance business ever since.

     

Required Reading

  • Wheels continue to be one of the first modifications that car and truck owners make to their vehicles. The popularity of these products may be one reason why wheels are so prominent at the SEMA Show. Located in the lower South Hall, where buyer activity tends to be among the highest, the SEMA Show’s Wheels & Accessories section is a key destination for many. Just take a look at what the media captured at last year’s event.

SEMA Heritage

  • In the summer of 1957, Petersen photographer Bob D’Olivo rode with a convoy of 251 Jeeps as it crossed Northern California’s infamous Rubicon Trail for what was then the fifth Jeeper’s Jamboree. As it still does today, the ’57 Jamboree convened in Georgetown, a small mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.