From SBN Chair to the Board of Directors: Luanne Brown Gets It!
By Marla Moore
Over the years, Brown has been very involved in fundraising events for SEMA Cares. Here she is at the Child Help banquet, next to a car that was auctioned to benefit the charity.
There have been only a handful of women on the SEMA Board of Directors (BOD), and four of them chaired the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) before rising to the Board. Luanne Brown is one of those women.
In June, Brown will have served her maximum terms and leave the BOD but not the many tasks and initiatives she helped. She served as chair of the SEMA Cares charitable committee, where she initiated the successful pinewood derby races to raise funds for Child Help and Victory Junction for disadvantaged youth. Brown is also a member of the SEMA Business Technology Committee and has become one of the industry’s leading experts, conducting numerous seminars on Internet marketing and advertising at the SEMA Show, the Aftermarket
eForum, the Off Road Impact Show, the Hot Rod and Restoration Trade Show, the Performance Racing Industry trade show and various AAIA (now the Auto Care Association) events. She is a true testament to how perseverance, getting involved and making connections will propel your career and take you places you never dreamed of.
Brown got her start in October of 2001 when a client of the multi-media firm she represented took her to the AAPEX show and introduced her to Martha Doyle, one of the founding members of the SBN. Doyle asked her: “Have you ever heard of SEMA and the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network?” Brown said: “No, what’s that?” Then Doyle introduced her to the women of the SBN. Brown became a member and shortly thereafter began writing “Quick Business Tips” for SEMA News.
Brown was greatly inspired by the women she met and started her own company, eTool Developers, in December 2001. Early on, Matt Agosta, Steve Cole, Dick Van Cleve and John Towle mentored her and introduced her to numerous other key figures in the industry. She began volunteering her time and networking through SEMA to become known in the industry.
Working in a male-dominated industry wasn’t always easy, but Brown found that most men were very approachable and willing to show her the ropes.
“The hardest thing for me was to be taken seriously as a woman and not just typecast as some ‘girly girl,’” Brown shared. “You need to become a respected leader in the industry by doing what you say you are going to do and by getting involved in the councils and committees of SEMA. The key for me was to become an expert in the field of Internet marketing to gain respect as a trustworthy individual. Once others in the industry start believing in you and trust you, they will listen to you.”
eTool Developers continues to thrive today. Brown is grateful to have a team of experts that developed software platforms to serve websites, dealer portals and provide do-it-yourself data management for her friends and clients in the automotive aftermarket.
“When you can help your friends increase their bottom line, it’s a win-win relationship,” she exclaimed.
The SBN is very proud of the success of our former chair and awarded her the SBN Athena Award in 2007. The Women’s Automotive Association International honored her recently with the Spirit of Leadership award.
One of her most memorable moments in the aftermarket was participating in a “Night with the Demon” party with Barry Grant and his team. They gave all guests rides in the “Richard Petty Experience.” She’ll never forget suiting up, then crawling through the window of a racecar and being driven around the racetrack at neck-breaking speed by a professional driver.
“I was thrilled to death and understood what the excitement of our industry was all about,” she said. “I crawled back out of that window saying, ‘I get it now! I get it now!’”
Luanne Brown definitely got it, and we’re glad that she took the opportunity to join the SBN and be a leader in our industry.