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.

Member News

  • Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) - SEMA CouncilThe 2011 Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) Media Trade Conference (MTC) returned to the Embassy Suites LAX South after a one-year detour in 2010. This marks the eighth time in the last nine years that the event was hosted at the location in El Segundo, California, and by all accounts, the return proved to be the right move after record-setting rains during the 2010 event at a facility with an open-air setting.

    “This property continues to serve the event well,” said MPMC Chairman Kyle Fickler of Weld Racing Inc. “The layout lends itself to our purposes, and it’s completely under a roof—something we will never again take for granted after last year! The hotel staff was very attentive to our needs, responded to feedback from previous years and was very accommodating to last-minute changes on site. It’s cliché, but 2011 was definitely the best Media Trade Conference yet!”

  • Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) - SEMA CouncilThe Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) and its member companies are gearing up for the second annual LTAA New Product Showcase. Carlisle Events will once again host the Showcase at the Carlisle Truck Nationals, August 5–7, 2011, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Last year’s inaugural event drew 35 products from 15 LTAA-member companies, including two fullsize display trucks. This year’s event promises to be even bigger and better.

    “The event came together very quickly last year,” said LTAA Chair-Elect Melanie White of Hellwig Industries. “Even with minimal time to market it, the response from our members was very positive, and the post-event feedback made it easy to plan for a second event in 2011. If you are an LTAA-member company and have not signed up a new product or products, there is still time to get in. Registration is online and takes just a few minutes.”

  • Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) - SEMA CouncilCustomer service is nothing more than communication. We are not selling just metal, chrome, rubber or plastic. We are selling information and services.

    So what does the customer really want from you? Well, think about what you would want if you were the customer. You are perfectly willing to pay a fair price for a product that you have decided best serves your purpose. Your selection criteria may range widely based on price, quality, delivery, features, reputation and so on. When you are ready to make a purchase, you have formed expectations about all of these categories. All you want is to have those expectations fulfilled.

  • Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) - SEMA CouncilLike other SEMA councils and committees the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) came to be out of necessity. As SEMA membership grew to encompass all aspects of the automotive specialty-equipment market, industry leaders recognized the need for a volunteer group to focus on the specific needs of the restoration market.

    In early 1991, Jim Wirth attended a SEMA management conference and was impressed by the way SEMA-member companies were working for the betterment of the automotive aftermarket. Already heavily involved in the restoration industry as an enthusiast and the founder of the Springfield Auto Swap Meet and Car Show, Wirth suggested to several friends that restoration companies could benefit from a similar organization. By the end of that year, ARMO was formed and recognized as a SEMA committee.

  • Lee McGuire, director of marketing and operations for Skyjacker Suspensions, will assume the chairmanship of the Young Executive’s Network (YEN) in July. She has been involved in the automotive specialty-equipment industry for eight years and will attend her ninth SEMA Show in November. She became a member of YEN in 2005 and, after a Loan Forgiveness Award that same year from the SEMA Scholarship Fund, determined that she should serve the industry as a way to give back. She says that being a volunteer and serving on the YEN Select Committee have been great experiences. She recently answered a few questions about her passions and goals.

  • SEMA Scholarships CommitteeThe SEMA Education Institute (SEI) has added a new SEMA Social Media Course to its comprehensive online library, which is designed to help industry professionals develop career-advancing skills. The six-session course, available for a limited time without charge at www.SEMA.org/eLearning, begins with Social Media Foundations, an introduction to the social-media concept. The five subsequent sessions describe how automotive specialty-equipment companies can leverage outrageously popular social media channels to help promote and market their businesses.

  • Marla Moore has been involved in the automotive specialty-equipment industry for 30 years, working with mentors that included SEMA icons such as Mark Heffington, Ron Coleman, Scooter Brothers, Jim McFarland and Amy Faulk. In fact, it was Faulk—a founding member of both the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) and the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN)—who encouraged Moore to become active with SEMA.

     

  • Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) - SEMA CouncilOver the past 100 years, tires and the wheels that support them have gone through significant changes as a result of technical innovations in design, technology and materials. No single factor affects the handling and safety of a car more than the tires and wheels it rides on and how the two work together as a unit.

    One nagging question has been whether rims designed for bias-ply tires can handle the stresses placed on them by radial-ply tires. The answer depends on how the rim was originally designed and built as well as the number of cycles on it and how it has been used. Most importantly, it depends upon the construction of the tire and how it transmits the vehicle’s load. A new white paper, now available under the “WTC Resources” box on www.SEMA.org/WTC, describes how bias and radial tires differ in working with the rim to provide a safe ride.

  • Street Performance Council (SPC) - SEMA CouncilThe next chairman of the Street Performance Council (SPC) has been involved with the organization since it was a fledgling committee trying to get attention for tuner manufacturers and enthusiasts. Tyler Tanaka, vice president of business development for PostRelease, a developer of next-generation interactive entertainment and rich Internet applications, has been an active participant in the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 years. Foreseeing the importance of forums and social networks, he became an early adopter and firsthand user. SEMA Member News recently engaged in a Q&A session with this forward-thinker.

  • Street Performance Council (SPC) - SEMA CouncilThe next chairman of the Street Performance Council (SPC) has been involved with the organization since it was a fledgling committee trying to get attention for tuner manufacturers and enthusiasts. Tyler Tanaka, vice president of business development for PostRelease, a developer of next-generation interactive entertainment and rich Internet applications, has been an active participant in the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 years. Foreseeing the importance of forums and social networks, he became an early adopter and firsthand user. SEMA Member News recently engaged in a Q&A session with this forward-thinker.

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.