Cover Story

Who’s up and coming in the automotive aftermarket? Which young business leaders of tomorrow are already making their marks today? How do they envision the future? What new ideas and innovations might we expect from them, and most importantly, what direction will they take our industry?

In the following pages, SEMA News is pleased to present 35 young trendsetters, all age 35 or younger, bringing exciting new concepts and fresh enthusiasm to every segment of the automotive specialty-equipment industry.


  • Envy MotorsportsBob Southard has spent the majority of his life entrenched in the automotive industry, working primarily as a distributor. A self-professed “Jeep guy” and lover of just about anything with a seven-slot grille, Southard was determined to open a shop capable of providing Arizona customers with excellent service, whether their vehicles were Jeeps or otherwise. Southard specializes in marketing and online work, and he eventually found the missing puzzle pieces he needed to open his business: a master tuner and an installer, both crucial pieces to the shop he always envisioned.

  • ADASWhile identifying multiple growth opportunities for the specialty-equipment industry, the recently released “SEMA Advanced Vehicle Technology Opportunities Report” (see p. 106) predicts specific growth potential in the area of parking-assistance systems. To better understand this advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) technology, SEMA News turned to SEMA Vice President of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak.

  • MotorinWith the introduction of the MOTORin’ mobile app, automotive event organizers throughout the country now have a cost-effective, modern tool to reach consumers and promote events ranging from car shows and auto auctions to drifting or race competitions free of charge. Created through a partnership between SEMA and, the new MOTORin’ app is a car and truck event finder designed to make it easy for auto enthusiasts to find events by date, location or category and to help event organizers get the word out about their shows. Fans of automotive events can simply log on to the mobile app and find upcoming events near them based on their GPS location, or they can search for events by date, location, distance, keywords or category.

  • ADASSEMA research indicates that the U.S. aftermarket for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and connected vehicle technologies (CVT), though still in its infancy, can be expected to grow into a $1.5 billion industry within the next five years. With so much at stake in these rapidly emerging technologies, SEMA has made identifying ADAS/CVT opportunities for association members a key priority.

Chris Kersting

  • Chris Kersting

    The SEMA Show, a global marketplace that mirrors the industry, creates an environment that annually attracts some 70,000 buyers seeking new products and new ideas. For exhibitors, it’s an opportunity to attract new customers to their booths, generate productive conversations, and build brands and customer lists in one short week.


  • Liqui MolyEvery year, the SEMA Show accommodates specialty-equipment manufacturers who decide to exhibit on the international stage for the first time. This year is no different. Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the SEMA Show attracts more than 170,000 industry leaders from more than 140 countries. In 2017, the Show featured 2,400 exhibitors, including 354 first-timers.
  • FreemanTrade shows are all about doing business, but before the Show floor opens and the first meetings can begin, exhibitors have to arrive and set up. Then they have to pack everything up again five days later to hit the road for the next show. All too often, exhibitors arrive in Las Vegas unprepared, believing that if they order everything they require on-site they will receive it on the spot. The consequenses for that lack of planning can be costly in both time and money and lead to frustration. But, through proper planning, an exhibitor’s Show logistics can work smoothly and efficiently.

  • First Time ExhibitorsAttendees of the 2018 SEMA Show have several opportunities to prepare now for a successful week in Las Vegas. First things first: More than 250 first-time exhibitors are already on the floorplan. Each of those companies represents a potential lead for new products and business opportunities.

  • With opening day of the 2018 SEMA Show set for Tuesday, October 30, now is the time for exhibitors to make their crucial last push toward attracting buyers to their booths. According to SEMA Trade Show Director Tom Gattuso, more than 60,000 buyers are expected to attend this year’s Show, and a large percentage of them are already determining which exhibitors they want to see.

From The Hill

  • Warn IndustriesWhat happens when a veterinarian, a farmer and a politician visit a SEMA-member company? This is a bit of trick question, since U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) claims each of those professions as his own. One of the most bipartisan members of Congress, Rep. Schrader is a friend of the automotive enthusiast because he is one himself. Given that, persuading him to visit the headquarters of Warn Industries in Clackamas, Oregon, was an easy sell.

Government Affairs

  • MichiganMichigan—Towing Restriction: Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill to allow for the attachment of a tow ball, bicycle rack, removable hitch or any other device designed to carry an object on the rear of a vehicle, even if it obstructs the rear license plate.

Industry News

  • ’19 Dodge Charger: Dodge is expected to give the Charger one more refresh before a redesigned version appears early next decade.

    ’20 RAM HD Regular Cab: Current power is delivered from three engines: a 383hp 5.7L V8 with a compressed natural gas option; a 410hp 6.4L V8; and a 6.7L turbodiesel inline six. 

    McLaren 600LT: McLaren unveiled the 600LT and confirmed that it has “increased power, minimized weight, optimized aerodynamics and track-focused dynamics.”

  • Industry news from SEMA-member companies, including Marx Group, Design Engineering, Hypertherm and University of the Aftermarket Foundation.

  • The SEMA Garage has expanded the number of scan files available through its 3-D Scan Repository.


  • AustraliaRepresentatives from 22 SEMA-member companies recently traveled to Melbourne, Australia, for the third annual SEMA Australia Business Development Conference. The week-long program in late May included exhibiting at the MotorEx Show, visiting accessory and performance businesses (including installers, retailers and distributors) and briefings with top buyers and U.S. government officials. The 2018 trip Down Under is the newest addition to SEMA’s overseas trade missions, which also include programs in the United Arab Emirates and China.


  • InternetBusinesses fed up with overly aggressive spam filters that block their ability to reach out to customers are turning to a new solution: bringing their own email server in-house. It’s a move that offers four major advantages.

Member News

  • The Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) will have a large presence at the SEMA Show, including its iconic booth and industry awards reception. HRIA members are encouraged to take advantage of being at the same place at the same time and enjoying some quality networking and recognition opportunities as well as seeing some really cool hot rods.

  • The Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) is set to host engaging events throughout the week of the SEMA Show, October 30–November 2, in Las Vegas. ARMO serves the automotive restoration aftermarket industry through programs and resources to advance the industry and improve how member companies operate daily. There will be plenty of opportunities for ARMO members to connect and for those looking to become members of the council to engage with council leadership and learn more about the organization.

  • The specialty automotive products industry represents a wellspring of opportunity for American workers, employing many thousands of engineers and designers; manufacturing workers; distribution, marketing and sales personnel; as well as skilled technicians and installers. But spend any time among a group of seasoned industry colleagues, and the conversation inevitably turns to a recurring theme: Young people are the future of the industry, but how do we cultivate the next generation and inspire youngsters to engage in and perpetuate the industry?

  • The SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) has continued to not only grow its membership of young automotive professionals but also to improve upon and create new programs for its members. As the 2018 SEMA Show approaches, YEN is excited to announce the opportunities that young professionals have to connect with each other and YEN’s leadership during the week of the Show.

  • The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) is dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of women who work in the automotive aftermarket industry. Through community and education, SBN has been providing women with the opportunity to connect with each other, become more engaged in the industry, and develop themselves professionally.

  • Manufacturers’ reps attending the SEMA Show are invited to attend a networking event that is returning for a second year in SEMA Central, located in the Grand Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center. To be held on Thursday, November 1, from 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., the event serves as a great opportunity to network and learn more about the industry while enjoying appetizers and beverages.

  • The Emerging Trends & Technology Network (ETTN) is a community within SEMA geared toward automotive aftermarket engineering, design and technology professionals, providing a forum for them to connect, collaborate, learn and advance their careers. ETTN is offering many opportunities for those types of professionals at this year’s SEMA Show.

  • There’s no business like show business—trade-show business, that is. Just ask buyers. The vast majority of them rank trade shows as the number-one place to see new products, discover new sources of information, learn about industry trends, and make long-lasting connections.

  • The Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) will be hosting events that allow members of the aftermarket wheel and tire community to meet, mingle, collaborate and celebrate industry leaders at the iconic SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The events include networking at the council’s annual reception.

  • The Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) is slated to host several events at the SEMA Show and will also sponsor educational seminars geared specifically toward advancing professionals in the restyling segment. All PRO members and restyling professionals are encouraged to attend these events to learn more about PRO membership, the resources that are available to your company, and to get more connected to the industry.

  • Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) members have a busy winter season ahead. Just weeks after the SEMA Show, MPMC members will be packing their bags for Indianapolis for a week full of exhibiting, customer meetings, networking and MPMC-sponsored educational seminars at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in Indianapolis, December 6–8.

  • The Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) is slated to host fun and engaging events throughout the week of the 2018 SEMA Show, to be held October 30–November 2 in Las Vegas. LTAA focuses on creating a community among those in the light-truck segment of the aftermarket industry. Members and nonmembers alike are encouraged to attend LTAA events taking place at the SEMA Show or stop by the new LTAA booth location, booth #34185, centrally located within the Upper South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).

Required Reading

  • In addition to hosting the world’s leading automotive aftermarket trade show, SEMA continually works on initiatives that help support and grow the industry. Some of those initiatives include school programs that foster youth interest in the automotive industry, funding for special industry projects, and programs that support SEMA Cares—a group that brings the voice and resources of the SEMA community together to make a positive difference for those in need. The publications below reported on some of SEMA’s recent philanthropic efforts.

SEMA Heritage

  • HeritageIt was such an outrageous sum to pay for a customized car in 1955 that Motor Trend used the $25,000 price tag as the main blurb for its May issue. Inside, a story called “Gold in the Streets” featured comments from “a group of people” who were shown photos of the custom car and asked for their opinions. About half the group “admired the car in general while the other half varied down the line toward outright dislike,” said the story’s author, Al Kidd. “Must have been built for Ava Gardner,” said one admirer, while a less generous soul said the car was built “for show and blow rather than utility.”