By SEMA News Editors
In the Driver’s Seat
John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Performance Named SEMA PAC Chair
John Hotchkis (center) discusses SEMA PAC at the 2018 SEMA Show.
It’s the dawn of a new era at SEMA’s Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC). After more than a decade of exemplary service as the chairman of the industry’s legislative watchdog, PAC Chairman Doug Evans officially handed over the reins to John Hotchkis of Hotchkis Performance.
Hotchkis is no stranger to the industry. He founded his company—a manufacturer of performance suspension products—in 1992 and continues to serve as its president. While many are familiar with his tenure on SEMA’s Board of Directors, he was also awarded the Young Enthusiast Network’s Vanguard Award in 2011 and previously served on the former Street Performance Council and the SEMA Cares Committee.
SEMA News had the opportunity to catch up with him to find out what’s in store for the PAC and why association members should get involved.
SEMA News: How did you get involved with SEMA PAC?
John Hotchkis: The great Doug Evans’ influence! As a SEMA business owner, I know firsthand how much impact legislation can have on a company. Cars are not just my passion, they’re also my livelihood. Ensuring that SEMA members have a voice in Washington, D.C., is critical to our industry’s future. When Doug let me know that he was planning to step down, I was eager to throw my hat into the ring.
SN: How and where is the SEMA PAC administered?
JH: The SEMA PAC is managed and administered by the SEMA team in D.C. They spend a considerable amount of time understanding the lawmakers on the hill. This entails numerous congressional office visits and events, plus phone calls to determine who the SEMA PAC should support.
SN: Why should SEMA members pay attention to politics?
From left: Neal Billig, Eric Snyder, John Hotchkis, Christian Robinson, Stuart Gosswein at SEMA’s Government Affairs office in Washington, D.C.
JH: To protect their businesses from unwanted and unintended legislation. Many feel Washington has a bad reputation. It’s the notorious swamp. Therefore, getting involved is a must. Whether it’s protecting our right to modify and personalize vehicles, participate in grassroots motorsports, banning the sale of E-15, tax reform or healthcare, there’s always something brewing that will impact our businesses. It would be irresponsible to sit on the sidelines while others outside our industry determine our future.
SN: What is SEMA PAC, and how does it help business owners?
JH: The PAC is fundamentally about amplifying our industry’s voice and ensuring that the politicians in Washington pass bills that help our industry grow. We’ve all heard the saying “all for one and one for all.” That perfectly sums up SEMA PAC. I feel it’s critical that everyone step up and become involved.
SN: We understand, but what does SEMA PAC do?
John Hotchkis (left) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) at the 2014 SEMA Show.
JH: By law, SEMA is not allowed to use association funds to impact the electoral process. That’s where the individually funded SEMA PAC comes in. It allows SEMA members to pool their personal resources to make campaign contributions to candidates and lawmakers that support our industry.
SN: How can SEMA PAC help a member’s business?
JH: It’s simple: SEMA PAC helps us build relationships with the power brokers in Washington, and frankly, we always need more friends! Whether we like it or not, the game in D.C. is who you know and who can help you. The more lawmakers we have in our corner, the less likely we will have laws that hurt our industry.
SN: Who can join SEMA PAC?
JH: If you’re a SEMA member, you should join. We welcome everyone’s involvement from manufacturers to distributors and in between.
SN: How does somebody get involved?
JH: Government rules require SEMA PAC to get your permission before we ask for your donation. It’s a painless process known as becoming “PAC approved” and it only takes minutes. Head to
www.semapac.com and get signed up for free. In fact, when you log-on, the form is already filled out for you.
|Thank you, Doug Evans
|Over the past two decades, few have dedicated themselves to the automotive specialty-equipment industry more than Doug Evans. Elected to the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2017, Evans previously served not only as SEMA PAC chairman but also as the chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors and the Save the Salt Coalition. Additionally, he played a critical role in the expansion of the SEMA Action Network.
Under Evans’ leadership, SEMA PAC saw unprecedented growth, including the establishment of the $10 for 10 program, doubling of President’s Club membership, and the launch of the Redline Club. Most importantly, the industry’s ability to support business friendly lawmakers in Washington, D.C., more than quadrupled.
While Evans’ tenure as SEMA’s PAC chairman has come to an end, his legacy will forever be felt.
SN: Does becoming “PAC approved” mean somebody has to contribute?
JH: There’s never an obligation to donate, but our industry needs your contribution!
SN: Is there a minimum contribution to support SEMA PAC?
JH: No. All we ask is that everyone chip-in whatever they can afford. SEMA PAC is about strength in numbers and that’s why we need your help. The more people that help, the stronger we are.
SN: How do SEMA members learn more?
JH: Visit www.semapac.com or contact Christian Robinson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.