SEMA News—February 2014
FROM THE HILL
By Dan Sadowski
West Coast Visits Produce Two New Motorsports Caucus Members
Following the 2012 elections, SEMA identified several newly elected lawmakers who had an interest in the automotive specialty-equipment industry or a strong member presence in their districts. Among this group were California Congressmen David Valadao (R-CA) and Mark Takano (D-CA). Two SEMA-member companies were eager to host their new congressmen—Valadao at KW Automotive North America in Sanger and Takano at K&N Engineering in Riverside. As a result of the visits, both Valadao and Takano joined the SEMA-supported Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington that recognizes the significant impact of the automotive industry on the American economy.
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA)
Congressman David Valadao represents California’s 21st Congressional District, which includes all of Kings County and parts of western Fresno County, southwestern Tulare County and northwestern Kern County. The towns of Sanger, Kerman, Selman, Riverdale and parts of Bakersfield are within the district. Prior to being elected to Congress, Valadao served in the state legislature.
Rep. Valadao’s appreciation for automotive specialty equipment began early. He grew up racing and riding off-highway vehicles on sand and on his family’s dairy farm with his brothers. Only 36 years old, he is a lifelong resident of California’s Central Valley and is still actively involved in the family’s two dairies and farms. His knowledge of agriculture issues has benefited the automotive industry, since he understands the harmful effects of 15% ethanol (E15) fuel on older vehicles. At SEMA’s invitation, Rep. Valadao participated in the “Fuel for Thought” Rally held this past summer in Washington, D.C., to help raise awareness of E15, which can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers, especially in older cars that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials.
When Valadao visited KW Automotive, he already had a working knowledge of the industry. KW Automotive manufactures performance suspension systems for cars and trucks, including coil-overs and hydraulic lift systems. KW is an official provider to several notable automotive manufacturers, race teams and performance automotive partners. The company’s products have been used by renowned motorsports teams at numerous racing series around the world, including the 24-hour race at Nürburgring, the BFGoodrich long-distance championship, the World Touring Car Championship, the FIA GT and many more.
Rep. Valadao’s enthusiast background came through while he was touring the KW facility and chatting with employees. KW Vice President of U.S. Operations Darrell Edwards led the tour and was joined by Marketing Manager George Ciordas. Rep. Valadao was very enthusiastic about a SEMA-member company developing and manufacturing products in his home district, since the company provides opportunities for individuals seeking advanced technology and manufacturing jobs.
“KW Automotive North America is a great example of innovative manufacturing and the need for a new generation of highly skilled labor in our workforce,” said Rep. Valadao. “I applaud the company for making world-class products for distribution across the country and the globe. I look forward to working with KW and other SEMA-member businesses in my district to foster such manufacturing innovation and economic growth in central California.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Rep. Mark Takano also understands the important role SEMA-member companies play in local economic growth and development. Rep. Takano launched his “100 Businesses in 100 Days” tour this summer and included K&N Engineering in Riverside as a featured district stop.
Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Takano served on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees for 22 years. He represents California’s 41st Congressional District, which includes a large part of Riverside County. The towns of Riverside, Perris, Moreno Valley and Jurupa Valley are within the district as well.
K&N Engineering is a leading manufacturer of high-flow, washable, reusable performance air filters, oil filters and intake system technology, serving the needs of the automotive, motorcycle, marine, industrial and military markets since 1969. The company sells more than 5,000 products in 30 countries and is very active in motorsports activities. K&N is the official filter of NASCAR and is the title sponsor of the K&N Pro Series, a regional stock-car series in the United States.
To learn more about the small and large businesses in his Congressional District, Takano personally reached out to employers when arranging the “100 Days” tour. While visiting K&N’s main assembly and distribution facility at the company’s headquarters, Takano learned how products are ordered, assembled and distributed from Tim Martin, K&N vice president. He also discovered that many SEMA-member companies like K&N partner with vehicle manufacturers to produce and supply high-performance specialty parts for specific applications.
After the tour, Takano met with Martin and the K&N management team to discuss workforce development. With his background in education, Takano is uniquely qualified to address the issues facing employers in today’s economy. He stressed the need for SEMA-member companies to reach out to local educational institutions to encourage more science, technology, engineering and mathematic learning to ensure that today’s students are equipped with the skills to strengthen domestic manufacturing.
“Learning more about the many businesses in my district has been a top priority of mine since taking office,” said Rep. Takano. “Having a firsthand look at how K&N Engineering develops and manufactures its products has given me a deeper understanding of the specialty automotive industry. Because of the tour, I am now better positioned to represent large employers from my district in Washington. The visit also helped connect my background in education to the concerns of employers, especially those engaged in manufacturing.”
As the November elections approach, members of Congress will be spending more time in their home districts. SEMA-member companies interested in hosting an event with their elected officials are encouraged to contact SEMA Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 202-783-6007 x19.
SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Jim Cozzie
Jim Cozzie is a managing partner at Brenton Productions, which has locations in Swansea, MA, Tampa, FL and Mooresville, North Carolina. Cozzie is a charter member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club and previously served as Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors.
“The biggest single threat to our industry comes in the form of negative legislation that can severely impact our businesses,” Cozzie said. “I am a SEMA PAC President’s Club member to ensure we continue to have the resources to fight back.”
For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson at 202-783-6007 x20 or firstname.lastname@example.org.