Cover Story

As the world’s premier automotive trade show, the SEMA Show reflects the $44 billion automotive aftermarket, bringing together every segment of the industry—from hot rods to mobile electronics and collision repair. And if this year’s Show is any indication, the industry is alive, well and poised for another great year.



  • RetailerRemember the old adage? “The first three rules of business are location, location and location.” That may be true, but there’s something else just as basic to a retailer’s success: cash flow, cash flow and cash flow. Yet far too many retailers fail in that area, typically because they either confuse cash flow with revenue, rely on future sales that may or may not materialize, improperly track bills, allocate resources that they don’t really have, or succumb to a lethal combination of all the above.

Business Technology

  • SDC LogoThe SEMA Data Co-op has become “data central” for hundreds of specialty parts brands, representing millions of part numbers, and tens of millions of vehicle applications. This directory is designed to guide data users to brands that have successfully undertaken the challenge to manage their product data, and to continue to expand reference as more brands are added to the SDC repository.

Chris Kersting

  • Chris Kersting

    As the saying goes, “that which gets measured, gets done,” which is why we take time each year to conduct a deep dive into how the SEMA Show went for exhibitors, buyers and media. Our annual Show Satisfaction survey quantifies a number of measures and provides feedback so that we can tune our plans for future Shows.


  • InternationalInternational Buyers from 130 countries descended on the 2019 SEMA Show, walking the aisles to find products that would resonate well with their customers back home and to see the latest trends in customizing. Networking with the more than 20% of buyers residing overseas features high on the list of priorities of exhibitors. Global recognition of their products from a panel of international journalists is a sought-after recognition and serves to assist companies in identifying promising export markets. The SEMA Show organizes a number of programs and resources to assist in making those connections.

  • BroncoSometimes people come together for a special cause and create something extraordinary. SEMA Garage, WD-40 and many others in the industry came together in order to create a custom ’66 Ford Bronco that will be auctioned off to benefit Childhelp later in the year. Childhelp is an organization dedicated to closing the cycle of child abuse in the United States by helping victims and those at risk.

  • BanquetTraditionally taking place Thursday night at the SEMA Show, the SEMA Industry Awards Banquet honors industry innovators, volunteers and personalities who make significant contributions toward the advancement of the automotive specialty-equipment aftermarket. Themed “How Do You SEMA?” and emceed by automotive television and podcast personality Kevin Oeste and motorsports announcer Jarod DeAnda, the 2019 banquet was held November 7 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

  • Speed DawgThe New Products Showcase is routinely the number-one destination for SEMA Show buyers and media, giving participating exhibitors a distinct advantage in getting their products out to the world. The 2019 SEMA Show surpassed 3,000 products across 16 different categories, including street-performance, racing, off-roading, mobile-electronics and exterior and interior products. Three of the 16 categories were won by first-time exhibitors, indicating that the industry is healthy and continuing to grow.

  • Vehicles of YearEach year before the start of the SEMA Show, exhibitors are polled on the new vehicles that, to their minds, represent the best business opportunities for customization and accessorization via the aftermarket for the coming year. Vehicles are chosen in five distinct classes, and the winners are announced ahead of the start of the Show. This year’s announcement was made on Monday, November 4, before the first day of the 2019 SEMA Show. 
The winners are:

  • BOTBMike and Jim Ring of Ringbrothers of Spring Green, Wisconsin, captured the top prize at the sixth annual SEMA Battle of the Builders competition at the 2019 SEMA Show, held November 5–8 in Las Vegas. The announcement was made at SEMA Ignited, the official SEMA Show after-party designed to celebrate the builders and showcase products from the trade-only Show.

Industry News

  • ’20 Gladiator Hercules: According to the latest rumors, a so-called “Hercules” model would be a high-performance Gladiator to compete with the likes of the Ranger Raptor and Colorado ZR-2. 

    ’21 Cadillac Escalade: The next-gen Escalade is expected to launch for the ’21 model year and will represent a complete redesign over the current model.

    ’20 Wrangler Stormtrooper: Similar to other movie tie-ins, this Wrangler will consist mostly of trim and equipment bundles.

  • Industry news from SEMA-member companies, including C&U Americas LLC, the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation, Kahn Media and more.

  • MPMCJournalists are invited to sign up for the 2020 Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) Media Trade Conference, taking place January 21–23, 2020, at the Embassy Suites Orange County Airport North in Santa Ana, California. During the event, journalists will sit down in up to 42 (14 each day) private, uninterrupted meetings with executives from top motorsports parts manufacturers in the industry.


  • AIGiven that face-to-face selling often results in communications breakdowns, it’s no wonder that artificial intelligence (AI) programmers are designing solutions that enable machines that help sell by sensing customer emotions. These AI solutions are able to use cameras and listening devices to determine if a customer is happy or sad, angry or disinterested, and alter their sales pitches based on that assessment.

Member News

  • Scholarships have a long history in our country. In fact, the very first scholarship dates to colonial times before our country became the United States of America. In 1643—long before the United States declared its independence—Lady Anne Radcliffe created a scholarship at Harvard with an endowment of 100 British pounds to honor her late husband, Thomas Mowlson, who had been Lord Mayor of London.

  • For industry professionals 39 years of age or younger, the 2019 SEMA Show offered unique opportunities to cultivate and recognize young talent. Ranging from the Launch Pad hosted by the Young Executives Network (YEN) to the network’s awards reception, members of YEN were able to take advantage of networking and professional-development opportunities during the Show.

  • Providing opportunities for professional women in the automotive specialty-equipment industry is a top priority for the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN). The SEMA Show affords SBN members multiple ways to hone leadership skills, encourage the advancement and growth of women in the industry, and inspire entry into the industry through education and mentoring.

  • As the group within SEMA charged with identifying and sharing information and knowledge about the latest developments in automotive technology, the Emerging Trends & Technology Network (ETTN) made education the centerpiece of its weeklong activities at the SEMA Show.

  • Twenty-one years ago, a collection of SEMA-member companies representing various facets of the custom wheel industry banded together to form the Wheel Industry Council (WIC). At the time, WIC was described as a forum in which wheel and tire professionals could network, identify and work on resolving areas of mutual concern, and form mutually beneficial alliances.

  • From the moment the doors to the SEMA Show swing wide, the buzz throughout the exhibit halls is always one of excitement and anticipation. For truck-accessory and off-road aficionados, there was more reason than ever to rejoice, as it marked the first time that the two allied market segments were joined together at the Show as the Truck Accessory and Off-Road Alliance (TORA).

  • The Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) put its best foot forward during an event-filled week at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. From the council’s awards reception and the new PRO Cup Challenge to a breakfast membership meeting, seminars and Happy Hour, the restyling community had ample occasions to link up and celebrate another successful year.

  • Indianapolis has a rich motorsports heritage that is indelibly linked to the Indy 500, the world’s oldest major auto race. So it’s fitting that the foremost trade event for the motorsports and racing industry—the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show—has made Indianapolis its home for many years.

  • It’s hard to miss all the hot-rod-related activities during the SEMA Show. From Hot Rod Alley to the Hot Rod Builder’s Panel to the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) reception, a spotlight shone brightly on HRIA throughout the 2019 Show, both on and off the exhibit floor.

  • The Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and the industry it represents were front and center throughout the 2019 SEMA Show, from the Restoration Marketplace and the ARMO vintage-vehicle display in Central Hall—the latter jointly shared with the Hot Rod Industry Alliance—to the council’s annual awards reception, membership meeting and Restoration Builder’s Panel.

  • Helping SEMA-member companies expand their businesses domestically and internationally is a key tenet of SEMA’s mission. On the domestic front, the most well known and well established is, of course, the annual SEMA Show, which just completed its 53rd year as the premier trade venue to buy, sell and market the products and services that drive the industry.

Required Reading

  • Autoweek

    It would likely take hundreds of pages to describe in detail everything that happened at the 2019 SEMA Show. Given deadlines and space constraints, journalists at the Show rely on photography to highlight features and items that are of interest to their readers. While some media focus on a specific niche or segment, other outlets, such as the ones listed below, capture as much content as possible and present it to their audiences through photo galleries with captions to provide them with an overall recap of the world’s premier automotive trade show.

SEMA Heritage

  • HeritageTrend-setting custom car builder Larry Watson is credited with creating the first panel paint job in 1958, when he tried to tone down the bright silver paint on his newly customized ’58 Thunderbird by covering several of the car’s body panels in metallic burgundy, leaving the silver to show through as accents.