Heralding a New Era

SEMA Member News—July 2019

Heralding a New Era

  Heralding a New EraTORA launches new branding during their launch party in Moab, Utah.
   

It’s official. Against an awe-inspiring backdrop of towering red rock formations for which Moab, Utah, is renowned, the light-truck and off-road communities celebrated the rebranding of the Light Truck Accessories Alliance (LTAA) into the more inclusive Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA) at an official launch party on April 18.

The ground-breaking union of two vibrant market segments represents LTAA’s decision to embrace the off-road market. But the decision wasn’t made lightly, nor did it happen overnight.

According to Kathryn Reinhardt, outgoing chair of LTAA, who helped shepherd the transition, the conversation first began with thoughts of how to grow council membership. It quickly turned into a more thoughtful look at a shifting market and what the changes might mean to LTAA.

“The conversation started with an idea to open LTAA to a bigger membership, not because we didn’t have the largest membership of all the SEMA councils, but because we saw a market shift,” Reinhardt said. “Whether it was Jeeps going to Moab, overlanding vehicles going to remote areas, or trophy trucks doing the Baja 1000, we saw this collection of shops that were building these vehicles and manufacturers that were making products for these off-road vehicles. We thought we were speaking to that audience, but we realized that there was some confusion over the LTAA name. In their minds, a light truck is a small pickup. So in reality, we weren’t speaking their language.”

To address that conundrum and brainstorm next steps, LTAA held an open meeting during last year’s Off-Road Expo. Participants included council members along with a cross-section of other players—distributors, manufacturers, racers, as well as non-LTAA members who belong to SEMA.

“We did an entire day of research on the market segment, on the definition of a truck, an ATV, a UTV,” Reinhardt said. “We wanted to define who our members are and if we are giving them all the tools, programs and products necessary to make their companies successful. We tried to hit every segment we could to get an opinion on the direction we ought to go and to [identify] if there was anybody we might have left out. After an entire day, we came to the conclusion that we needed to change the name to open the doors to every market segment out there that reflects the truck culture.”

Evolving With the Times

New EraJeep enthusiasts go off-road in Moab, Utah.  
   

To reflect the change, the SEMA Board of Directors approved LTAA’s proposal to embrace the off-road segment and rebrand the council as TORA. But it wasn’t the first time that the board was charged with approving a proposal to bring a truck-centric group under the SEMA umbrella.

In 1999, the Truck Cap & Accessory Association (TCAA) began exploring the possibility of becoming a SEMA council. First established in 1989 as the Truck Cap Industry Association, it had already marked its first major transition by changing its name to TCAA to better represent the broader collective interests of the truck-accessory market.

Following yearlong negotiations and a nod from the SEMA Board, TCAA merged into SEMA as its largest council in 2000. Soon thereafter, it was rebranded again—this time as the Light Truck Accessory Alliance.

So what does the latest rebranding mean for LTAA’s current core members? In describing the TORA designation, Reinhardt sees it as a blending of two markets into one united coalition.

“The ‘T’ still stands for truck, with the ‘OR’ for off-road,” she explained. “But the word ‘alliance’ is so important. It’s a carryover from LTAA, but it also says that we are opening our arms to all those other entities to be more inclusive.

“It’s a sign of the times. We have to be willing to change. We aren’t losing the LTAA spirit. The truck cap and accessory companies are still within our realm. With the word alliance in the name, we’re recognizing that current members are an integral part of who we are. At the same time, we are bringing together a new community of companies and people who want to be represented.”

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