SEMA Announces Board Election Results

SEMA News—August 2019

PEOPLE

SEMA Announces Board Election Results

By Mike Imlay

The SEMA Board of Directors is composed of industry representatives who volunteer their time to lead and guide the association. They are elected by all SEMA-member companies and represent the trade association’s key membership categories: manufacturers, distributors/retailers, manufacturers’ representatives, and services. There were five open seats on the Board for the 2018 election cycle, including the chairman-elect position. Online voting opened May 14 and concluded May 28 with the following results:

Chairman-Elect Category

  James Lawrence
   

James Lawrence
CEO, Power Automedia

James Lawrence of Power Automedia has been elected chairman-elect and will help the SEMA Board of Directors lead the association over the next few years. Lawrence fills the position held for the past two years by Tim Martin of Aftermarket Advisors. Martin will begin his term as chairman in July. Melanie White of Hellwig Products and Kathryn Reinhardt of Pilot Automotive were also voted onto the SEMA Board of Directors, while Chris Douglas of Comp Performance Group and Les Rudd of Bob Cook Sales were re-elected to serve another term.

The entire 2019–2020 SEMA Board of Directors will be honored at the SEMA Installation & Gala in July. At the same time, outgoing SEMA Immediate Past Chair Doug Evans of Crower Cams & Equipment Co. Inc. and Board member Kyle Fickler of Aeromotive Inc. will be recognized as they conclude
their terms.

The following pages include biographical information and statements from the newly elected Board members regarding their views on issues facing the industry as well as the personal priorities they hope to bring to their work.

I am grateful and humbled to have been elected chairman-elect of SEMA thanks to the efforts of so many of you that care so deeply about our industry. I am proud to stand along side each and every one of you as we grow and we protect our future.

The real work has just begun. I appreciate deeply the kind words. At the same time, I hope that in four years we will look back, and together with the SEMA Board of Directors, we can truly appreciate THEN what we will have accomplished with SEMA and PRI.

My commitment to SEMA and PRI, SEMA members and our industry is to lead with passion and kindness. Change isn’t easy, and there are many big projects ahead of us. Only working together for a common goal will we achieve greatness. There are tough decisions that will need to be made, and every project can’t be a priority.

While it’s not a part of SEMA’s official mission statement, SEMA is in many ways the protector, leader and driver of innovation for the entire automotive aftermarket. YES, SEMA exists to support the membership. YES, SEMA exists to produce world-class trade shows. But there is something bigger than that—a stewardship of this automotive life which so many of us love so dearly. When my wife and I look at our kids and their budding love of cars, we want SEMA to be there for them to make sure that they’ll get to enjoy the same opportunities so many of us had.

I am looking forward to working together with the SEMA Board of Directors, SEMA leadership team, SEMA staff, SEMA members and automotive enthusiasts everywhere to collaborate on this mission. We will need you. This isn’t something that can be done alone.

I want to thank Russell Stephens—my fellow candidate for chair-elect—who has given so much to this industry. It has been a pleasure to go through this process with you, and I thank you for your service. Thank you to Wade Kawasaki and Tim Martin—whom I served under the last two years on the SEMA Board—who encouraged me in my volunteerism, provided me opportunities and projects, and urged me to make
a difference.

Finally, thanks to my family who endured the many late nights I spent time on this campaign and dream, but always had my back understanding that this is what I was destined to do with my life and the sacrifices weren’t always mine to make. This also includes my work family at Power Automedia who has helped me through my SEMA volunteer efforts, and has encouraged and supported me through this entire process.

Let’s make a difference.

Manufacturers Category

Chris Douglas  
   

Chris Douglas
COO, COMP Performance Group

It’s been my honor to serve SEMA over the last three years on the Board of Directors. During my first term, I fought for the industry while pushing for greater transparency and responsiveness from the association. However, the job isn’t finished, and the years ahead will bring additional political, economic and industry evolution challenges.

As SEMA navigates these uncertain times, I seek to continue serving the membership by bringing 25 years of diverse aftermarket experience, proven leadership and accountability. My priorities include:

Legislative Affairs: I will ensure that SEMA takes a strong leadership role by proactively working with federal/state governments to eliminate and/or negate misguided regulations. We must recognize threats sooner and work to mitigate them before they threaten our membership.

Industry Growth: We must define/engage the next generation of customers and employees. As a marketer and father of two young children, I can help SEMA better understand the minds that will power the industry forward. We must also work smarter to expand engagement with the industry, domestically and abroad.

Member Value: From the SEMA Show to market research to international business programs, I will advocate for using our collective strength to create impactful resources and provide a voice for all members, particularly the small independent businesses.

I grew up in this industry, and it has shaped who I am today. From a successful career as a professional racer to earning a B.A. in marketing, the business of motorsports has been my lifelong focus. My current position as Comp Performance Group COO involves leading hundreds of team members as well as financial guidance and responsibility for many iconic brands in the aftermarket.

My accomplishments include:

  • COO for Comp Performance Group, ’17–current
  • Partner/COO at Xceleration Media, ’15–’18
  • Vice President of Marketing for Comp Cams, ’03–’17
  • Operations Director at Race-On Performance Driving School, ’00–’02
  • Professional Race Car Driver (Karts, ASA, ARCA and NASCAR), ’85–’03

I’ve also served in elected leadership positions on the SEMA Board, the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council and the Young Executives Network.

  Kathryn Reinhardt
   

Kathryn Reinhardt
Vice President of Marketing, Pilot Automotive

I ran for the SEMA Board of Directors first and foremost as an automotive enthusiast. I was born in Detroit, raised in Georgia, and have spent the last 17 years helping move aftermarket companies forward by creating successful marketing programs.

I want to be a fierce voice for every small business by providing resources for all our companies to prosper, working to stop regulatory overreach and growing our industry for the next generation of consumers. I will work hard to increase awareness and the benefits of existing SEMA programs and provide creative new opportunities to help serve your business needs.

Experience:

  • Manufacturing: Having worked for a series of aftermarket manufacturers, I can relate to new product development, tariffs and regulations.
  • Distribution: The speed and accuracy of distribution is deeply affected by ever-changing consumer buying habits.
  • Marketing: I have my finger on the pulse of how to effectively market to consumers and create cross-marketing opportunities with fringe industries.
  • Legislation/Regulation: I have firsthand experience lobbying elected officials on regulations and working with task forces to reduce government overreach.

Leadership:

  • Vice President of Pilot Automotive
  • Director of Marketing for MagnaFlow
  • LTAA Chairwoman, 2017–2019
  • SEMA Cares Committee (Pinewood Drags)
  • Auto Care Scholarship Committee

Achievements:

  • SEMA Person of the Year, 2015
  • YEN Vanguard Award, 2015
  • SBN Woman of the Year, 2014
  • LTAA Chairman’s Award, 2015
  • SEMA News 35 Under 35, 2013

I am prepared to serve on the SEMA Board of Directors and be your champion for change. Let’s take our $43 billion industry and work together to make it $53 billion! I will bring the vision and the drive to achieve goals and create transparency so that every member knows what SEMA is doing to support business growth.

Melanie White  
   

Melanie White
President, Hellwig Products

I ran for the SEMA Board of Directors to protect the little guy, to focus on the small businesses that built this industry, and because SEMA members deserve a Board that understands what they are going through and that will fight for their needs.

Protecting Our Legacy: I am the fourth generation of my family to run Hellwig Products, which was founded by my great-grandfather in 1946. We have exhibited at the SEMA Show since its inception. My family has been committed to this industry for more than 70 years, and I am committed to ensuring that we have a bright future for years to come.

Experience: I worked my way up from sales to the shop floor to being the first female president of my company. I live in steel-toe boots and have worked the line. After running a family manufacturing company and working daily with small shops and major OEMs, I know the challenges our members face every day.

A Seat at the Table: Outside interests are reshaping SEMA and the way it represents our needs. Small businesses and real manufacturers who still make products in America need a voice on the SEMA Board. I will be the voice of small and family businesses.

Taking the Long View: Our industry tends to “ride the wave” up and down; we have been too reactive to Washington, the OEMs and changing consumer tastes. Are we prepared? Are our members? I want to make sure that both the association and our members have the tools they need to survive.

SEMA Leadership: I was the 2018 SEMA Person of the Year, and have served as chair of the Light Truck Accessory Alliance and SEMA Cares. I participated in SEMA Board meetings as a Council Board Liaison, served on six councils and networks, was a key stakeholder in the program with SEMA and Clemson University that studied stability control and suspension modifications, and I fought for the RPM Act on Capitol Hill.

Having been elected, I will fight for small businesses on the SEMA Board.

Manufacturers’ Representative Category

  Les Rudd
   

Les Rudd
President/CEO, Bob Cook Sales

I am honored to have this opportunity to continue my service as an incumbent on the SEMA Board of Directors. With your support we will—together—make a better SEMA!

With an impartial mindset, I will strive to support all SEMA members with vision, integrity, loyalty and honesty as we face the key issues that lie before us today. There are threats against us that many cannot see and are not aware of. In turn, I will maintain a key mindset on these issues and seek opportunities that will lead us toward a more prominent and secure future. Here is my background:

Professional Employment:

  • Bob Cook Sales, ’91–present
  • Representative, ’91–’03
  • Partner/Principal, ’04–’13
  • President, ’14–current
  • National Sales Manager for TCI Automotive, ’85–’91
  • Manager at Bloomfield Auto Parts and Speed, ’83–’85

Outstanding Career Achievements and SEMA Involvement:

  • SEMA Board of Directors, ’16–current
  • SEMA Manufacturers Rep Network Chair, ’02–’04 and ’14–’16
  • SEMA Political Action Committee Presidents Club
  • More Than 22 Years of SEMA Council and Network Involvement
  • Certified Professional Manufacturers Rep
  • Previous CAN (PWA) Board of Directors Liaison
  • Member of Bob Cook Sales for Seven SEMA Rep of the Year Awards
  • Numerous Rep of the Year Awards From Manufacturer Clients and Customers
  • Goodguys Pros Pick, ’07 and ’08
  • Super Chevy Editor’s Choice, ’08; Outstanding ’55 Award, ’08
  • Numerous Committees, Task Force Memberships and Industry Recognitions

Although our industry, by choice, is a large part of my everyday life, I do spend time on other interests as well. I am an avid outdoorsman. I am a regular volunteer at my church. My wife and I have been blessed with the task of raising our two granddaughters; her patience and support allows for me to seek my dreams. Your confidence in me is an honor and is greatly appreciated.

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