Young Innovators and Leaders in the Spotlight

SEMA Member News—January 2020

Young Innovators and Leaders in the Spotlight

  YENThe U.S. map let YEN members identify their region and post photos using a Polaroid camera. 

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.

For starters, the annual SEMA Launch Pad, Powered by YEN, took place at the Westgate Theater in Las Vegas on Monday, November 4. Billed as the premier industry competition for young entrepreneurs, the eagerly awaited event was emceed by Discovery Channel’s Aaron Kaufman of Dallas-based ArcLight Fabrication.

From an initial field of 15 competitors, later narrowed to 10 semi-finalists, the Launch Pad gave the top five finalists a platform to pitch their business concepts to a panel of industry judges, along with a chance to win a prize package valued at $10,000. For 2019, Reid Lunde of Kaizen Speed took home the grand prize.

Other finalists included TJ Hammerle of Trac Top LLC; Riley Koidahl of The Paddock; Christopher Steven Owens of Last Drop Wrench; and Wesley Poole of Forged Authority. The judges were world champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr., president of RTR Vehicles; Sean Holman of MotorTrend Group and co-creator/co-host of “The Truck Show” podcast; Dan Kahn, president and CEO of Kahn Media; Wade Kawasaki, CEO of Legendary Companies; and Hellwig Products President Melanie White.

YEN Salutes Industry Leaders

YENWith more than 400 attendees, the ’90s-themed YEN Reception reached beyond expectations and allowed members to freely network while enjoying light beverages.  

What do you get when an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 young professionals gets together? The annual YEN Awards Reception, of course.

Presented at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on Tuesday evening November 5, the reception was the group’s number-one networking experience. The high-energy event, which included drinks and appetizers, gave YENsters ample opportunities to make new acquaintances, build new connections, share stories and reconnect with colleagues and peers.

But the reception wouldn’t have been complete without an awards ceremony honoring industry leaders. For 2019, the Vanguard Award, which is presented to an individual, business, organization or sanctioning body that has had a positive effect on a young executive’s career within the automotive industry, went to Matthew Boice of Motor Trend. The Young Executive of the Year Award went to Matt Beenen of BullRight Industries.

“Since winning the 2018 Launch Pad competition, Matt Beenen has provided valuable feedback and insights to improve the program and better serve the competitors,” said YEN Chair-Elect Nick Caloroso. “Matt has stepped up to assist YEN with every opportunity presented to him. We are grateful for his contributions and honor him with this award.”

Rate this article: 
No votes yet