February: Strategic Planning Month
The Specialty Equipment Market Association exists for the benefit of SEMA members. To serve well, the association relies on input and guidance from industry representatives on the SEMA board and councils. The board meets quarterly to lead and oversee priority initiatives, but it is in February each year that we dedicate our meeting to more strategic, long-range planning.
Developing new plans and initiatives typically involves a good deal of dedicated work by our board and council volunteers over a period of time. For example, SEMA’s youth engagement initiative—inspiring young people to participate in the automotive customization lifestyle—took shape as a strategic initiative for SEMA over the past two years. Already, new programs are coming to the fore.
The Youth Engagement Task Force recently reported the rollout in 2018 of six science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum field trips to car shows for grade-school students in cities around the country. These pilot events will then be used to shape and grow the program going forward.
A second program involves a SEMA-sponsored car build and curriculum project with high-school students at an automotive tech school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The program introduces students not only to valuable automotive tech training, but also to the products, lifestyle and career options available through the automotive specialty-equipment industry. If the program is successful, it too will serve as a model for broader implementation.
Another of the board’s strategic goals is to identify emerging and underserved market segments in the automotive specialty-equipment market. In this case, a board task force identified emerging markets related to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) as having worthwhile potential. The immediate goal is to educate SEMA members on these new vehicle technologies and to highlight the specific opportunities that will impact the automotive aftermarket. A SEMA-commissioned ADAS market opportunities study, unveiled November 1 at the 2017 SEMA Show, was the first step in a year-long plan to assist member companies in taking advantage of this emerging market.
Almost all strategic initiatives begin with good research information. Recognizing that SEMA members will benefit by access to improved market data, the board launched one other initiative this past year. A task force has been at work to provide SEMA members with better information to guide their strategic planning. For the 2018–2019 timeframe, the focus will be on future trend forecasts and providing members with information pertaining to online shopping trends within the specialty automotive segment. The first future trends report is expected to be available in the first quarter of this year.
Membership on the SEMA Board of Directors is a demanding commitment. Board members sacrifice a great deal of time on behalf of the industry. Considerable attention is given to strategic plans and initiatives to help SEMA meet member needs. As we move through our February planning season, it’s a great time to recognize recent SEMA initiatives and to thank our board volunteers for their leadership and service to our industry.