Cover Story

SEMA is governed by a Board of Directors, with directors nominated and elected by the trade association’s membership at large. Directors serve three-year terms, while the chairman-elect automatically assumes the role of chairman after completing a two-year term. The 2018–2019 Board was recently empaneled at the annual SEMA Installation & Gala, held July 20, 2018, at the Hilton Los Angeles, Universal City, California.


  • Coming off the recently concluded SEMA Show, it’s apparent that the industry is eager and primed for growth in the new year. But while the Show is always the ideal venue for spotting industry innovations, there are also broader factors at work shaping industry direction and individual business growth. Overall economic health, consumer confidence and new vehicle configurations are just a few of the trends that will impact SEMA-member businesses in 2019 and beyond, and connecting such dots for solid business planning is no small task.

  • SDCIn today’s increasingly digital world, there can be no doubt that robust manufacturer product data drives sales for everyone in the supply chain. When manufacturers standardize product data and include enhanced digital assets such as photos and video clips, they not only gain access to a wider range of resellers but also warehouse distributers, jobbers and retailers to sell more parts at a faster pace.

  • CouncilSEMA News spoke with SEMA’s council and network leaders to find out what’s in store for the coming year, and to get their thoughts about the emerging trends and the challenges they can expect to face based on what their organizations are seeing in their respective marketplaces. Common themes included the responsibility to fight overly restrictive government regulations, continued concern regarding the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, and the evolution of in-vehicle technologies, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

  • Metal 3DThose who recall the 1967 movie “The Graduate” will remember that the word was “plastics.” Plastics were the future, and that future reached a zenith in recent years with additive manufacturing machines that could “print” 3-D objects in shapely polymers. That future is changing, however, because the new industrial buzzword is “metals”—as in the ability to 3-D print them. But has that latest technology truly come of age? And, more importantly, should SEMA members rush to embrace it?

Chris Kersting

  • Chris Kersting

    It’s no secret that data—in simplest terms, information—has become an important driver of business success. Through use of data, businesses can develop more informed strategies, and optimize outcomes. Which is another way of saying that the more you know, the better your chances to work smarter and boost revenue. Data, and the interpretation of data, directly translates to a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Data creates opportunity. Unfortunately, not every small business can focus on data development while in the heat of battle.


  • Hot RoddersSince 2008, Hot Rodders of Tomorrow (HROT) has been inspiring young people to lead successful careers in the automotive industry and beyond through its Engine Challenge competition. The final, culminative events took place this year at the SEMA Show and the PRI Trade Show. Teams of high schoolers learn critical life skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, on-the-fly initiative and communication as they tear down and reassemble Chevy 350 engines without power tools. Some of them will go on to become engineers and pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and many will join the automotive industry. All of them learn how to be productive and contribute, wherever they end up working.

  • BanquetAbout 400 members of the automotive specialty-parts industry attended the 2018 SEMA Installation & Gala, themed “Success Starts Here,” at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City in Universal City, California, on July 20, to pay tribute to the specialty-equipment industry’s pioneers and dedicated volunteers. Jessi Combs and Kevin Oeste served as the evening’s emcees. Honorees included the SEMA Hall of Fame class of 2018—Donnie Eatherly, P&E Distributors; Ed Pink, Ed Pink’s Garage; and Chris Thomson, TMG Performance Products.

From The Hill

  • ORRSEMA and other Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) member organizations welcomed a federal government final report documenting the significant economic impact of the outdoor recreation economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) found that the outdoor recreation industry contributed $412 billion to the nation’s economy in 2016 (the last available year of data), which represented 2.2% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Of note, motorized recreation and motorcycling accounted for more than $20 billion in economic activity.

Government Affairs

  • IdahoThe laws and regulations that govern how SEMA members do business have a continuous impact on the way automotive specialty-equipment products are made, distributed and marketed. The charge of the SEMA government affairs office is to stay on top of all relevant state and federal legislation and regulations and advocate for industry positions to ensure the best possible outcome for SEMA’s membership. The following are a few examples of critical legislative/regulatory issues addressed by the SEMA government affairs team over the past year.

Industry News

  • '20 Ford Super Duty: The Super Duty models will undergo some moderate updates, including a new 10-speed automatic transmission and driver safety technology that now goes under the Co-Pilot 360 name.

    '20 RAM HD: The new RAM HDs are expected to fall in line with the recently debuted 1500 and ditch the crosshair grille.

    '20 GMC Acadia: Up front, the Acadia will get a complete rhinoplasty with new headlights, grille and front clip.

    RAM Rebel TR: It has been confirmed that this TR mule was packing a naturally aspirated V8, most likely the rumored 7.0 V8 “Banshee” (a bored-out 6.4 Hemi).

  • Industry news from SEMA-member companies, including JE Pistons, Advanced Fuel Dynamics, ProMedia Events and Publishing, Hypertherm and more.

  • SEMA InternationalSEMA’s International department recently launched a private Facebook group designed to be a resource for SEMA members who are experienced exporters or are new to international markets.


  • HackerSince July, Google Chrome started turning businesses away from your website if it deemed your site to be unencrypted.

  • FacebookAs the mist clears on the great promises of artificial intelligence (AI), rubber-meets-the-road AI tools are beginning to emerge for social-media marketers who are looking for a gem-like polish on their text and full optimization of their campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like.

  • Keith BlockBusinesses looking to hyper-personalize how their websites interact with visitors—and spike sales in the process—are turning to a new friend: artificial intelligence (AI). Fortunately, it’s a buyer’s market if you’re looking for those types of AI web-personalization packages. Scores are available.

  • AIWhile the wonders of artificial intelligence (AI) are often hyped beyond recognition, AI-powered recruitment software is actually offering real advantages to businesses. Scores of firms are currently using AI-driven recruitment software to automatically crawl the web for the kind of job candidates they want, auto-interview them via text chat or video on the spot, and then auto-schedule the most promising candidates for follow-up interviews by the person who does the hiring. Other programs automatically rifle through résumés submitted at your website for candidates with the exact qualifications you want. And still others design neuroscience games your job candidates can play, which glean the people who best exhibit the traits, skills and characteristics you’re looking for.

  • HackersHackers are now arming themselves with artificial intelligence (AI) to relentlessly probe the defenses of business computers so that they can strike those networks at just the right time and just the right place, according to IT security pros.

People And Places

  • SEMA is governed by a Board of Directors, with directors nominated and elected by the trade association’s membership at large. Directors serve three-year terms, while the chairman-elect automatically assumes the role of chairman after completing a two-year term. The 2018–2019 Board was recently empaneled at the annual SEMA Installation & Gala, held July 20, 2018, at the Hilton Los Angeles, Universal City, California.

Required Reading

  • ImpactAs the automotive specialty-equipment market continues to grow, so does the need to identify the next generation of industry leaders and innovators. Through the years, the association has helped foster this new generation with programs such as the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, Career Day and Launch Pad. However, as reported by the publications below, several other programs and opportunities are available for young individuals who are passionate about the automotive aftermarket and want to break into the industry.

Retail Store Review

  • Retail SpotlightMany entrepreneurs will tell you that they started from the ground up. In the case of Darren Robinson, that means everything you might hope it would. Born in England, he traveled across the ocean and got married in the United States, but he hit a bad patch in the late ’00s when his wife left him and he became homeless. His only possession of value was a decade-old Pontiac Firebird. He was stuck in a foreign country with no home and nor job. The year was 2010, and the American heartland was in deep recession. This is the story of how he persevered to build a successful retail operation.

SEMA Heritage

  • HeritageAsk anyone about the history of the dune buggy and the first name most likely to come up will be Bruce Meyers and his famous Volkswagen-powered Meyers Manx. Yet there’s another branch of the Manx family tree with yet another famous off-roader’s name attached to it.