Southern Charm

SEMA News—January 2017

FROM THE HILL

By Eric Snyder

Southern Charm

Promoting the Specialty Aftermarket in Arkansas and Washington, D.C.

  Southern Charm
From left: Herman Smith, Tray Smith, U.S. Representative Steve Womack (R-AR), and Arkansas State Representative Kim Hendren (R) stop to discuss prospects for enacting the RPM Act during tour of H&H Classic Parts.
   

Like many in the automotive aftermarket industry, Herman, Liz and Tray Smith founded H&H Classic Parts after spending many years in the auto service and repair business. Located in Bentonville, Arkansas, H&H shares a passion with neighboring Walmart in providing consumers with a one-stop shopping venue.

Recognizing the demand for vintage replacement parts, the Smiths started the business in 1987 with a modest investment and a simple goal in mind: provide the best parts at the best prices possible with the fastest service in the industry. Today, H&H Classic Parts is one of the most recognizable brand names for restoration parts, providing car builders and enthusiasts with more than 20,000 items from 120 manufacturers.

“I tell people that H&H was a hobby business that just got way out of hand,” said Tray Smith, vice president of H&H Classic Parts. “We had a full-line auto service center and, like most people in that industry, it was difficult dealing with customers who were upset because their cars broke down. Also, it was tough as an independent garage to stay up on the latest technology, training and equipment. The opportunity came to sell that business and go into H&H full time, so we jumped at it.”

  SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Zan Martin
 

Zan MartinZan Martin is the president and CEO of Martin & Company Advertising, which is based in Whites Creek, Tennessee.

Martin is a five-year member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club.

“During my 30 years attending the SEMA Show and as president and CEO of Martin & Company Advertising, I have seen the economic impact the automotive aftermarket has made upon the U.S. economy and, conversely, have witnessed our government try to legislate hundreds of laws that could devastate our industry,” Martin said.

“By joining forces with the SEMA PAC, I am able to make a personal investment in helping SEMA’s Washington, D.C., staff protect the interests of all SEMA members, both now and into the future.”

While Smith spends many weeks of the year on the road in the company’s mobile warehouse—a pristine 80-ft. truck that travels to trade shows and events around the country—he has devoted much of his free time to volunteering on SEMA’s Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) council. Named ARMO’s chair-elect last July, Smith previously served as the organization’s legislative chair, where he helped the council become more engaged in policy issues that impact the industry.

At the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally, Smith convinced U.S. Representative Steve Womack (R-AR) to cosponsor the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which confirms that it has always been legal to convert a street car into a race car used exclusively at the track. Smith parlayed that connection to work with SEMA to invite the congressman to visit H&H Classic Parts so that he could see the automotive aftermarket up close. Rep. Womack, who also knows a thing or two about hard work and service, took Smith up on the offer without hesitation.

Southern Charm
Tray Smith (right), U.S. Rep. Womack (center) and Herman Smith chat in front of H&H Classic Parts’ mobile warehouse.
 
   

For most of his adult life, Rep. Womack worked in small businesses while serving in the Arkansas National Guard. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University, he put his education to work and established KURM Radio, all while serving as a second lieutenant. Rep. Womack managed the station for more than 10 years, served as executive officer of the University of Arkansas Army ROTC program and worked as a financial consultant before being elected mayor of Rogers, Arkansas. Just three years into his term, the Arkansas’ National Guard brigade he commanded was mobilized to the Middle East in the wake of 9/11.

During his tenure as his city’s mayor, Rogers added $1 billion in new economic development, which was spurred by the city’s investments in infrastructure, retail services and quality-of-life amenities. Rep. Womack’s experience in locally elected office and in the private sector motivated him to run for Congress in 2010, as he wanted to stand up for the communities where he lived and worked.

Southern Charm
H&H Classic Parts in Bentonville, Arkansas.
 
   

Over the past six years, Rep. Womack has been a friend of auto enthusiasts as a leader in the fight to reign in the ethanol mandates of the Renewable Fuel Standard and cap the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline at 10%. However, his visit to H&H Classic Parts confirmed his reputation as a passionate advocate for the industry and the businesses that support it.

During his two-hour tour and roundtable discussion, the congressman learned about the company and discussed the issues of importance to SEMA’s member companies. Rep. Womack wasted no time in taking action and getting results, convincing his colleague, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), to cosponsor the RPM Act in the days after the visit.

“The long-term certainty preserved by the RPM Act is critically important to the race-parts industry and motorsports enthusiasts in Arkansas and around the country,” said Rep. Womack. “I have been a proud cosponsor of the bill, and I’m committed to doing what I can to get the RPM Act enacted into law.”

Hosting members of Congress at SEMA-member companies has been a valuable advocacy tool for the industry. The association has leveraged the relationships made through these events to stand up for its members in Washington. For more information on planning your own Congressional District Site Visit, please contact Christian Robinson at christianr@sema.org.

For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC and Congressional Relations Director Christian Robinson at 202-751-8507 or by email at christianr@sema.org.

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