Cover Story

Custom-car builders from all walks of life entered the 2019 Battle of the Builders (BOTB) competition. While the bulk of the entries came from contestants scattered across the United States, our neighbors up north and down south also provided multiple entries, and some even traveled across the pond to enter the competition. Legends of the industry entered and competed with first-timers looking to make names for themselves. The format remained the same as last year, with winners recognized in four different categories: Hot Rod, Truck/Off-Road, Sport Compact and Young Guns (under 27).


  • RetailOne of the more pressing issues confronting today’s small-business shops is finding and attracting young talent. The case for winning over Millennials is obvious. As more industry retailers and shops come to rely on advanced technologies and social-media marketing, the need for employees adept in those areas will only grow. Plus, the industry overall is graying, meaning that the demand for new workers to replace retiring employees will also become more urgent with each passing year.

  • Retail ReportIt’s no secret that the retail environment has changed significantly over the past decade. Automotive specialty-equipment retailers in particular are dealing with new pressure points on a number of fronts. But what are the emerging trends that have industry retailers most concerned? And, more importantly, what tools and best practices are they utilizing to adapt? Those questions are at the forefront of a new SEMA market research report.

Chris Kersting

  • Chris Kersting

    The need for this kind of information in our industry is considerable. The automotive specialty aftermarket has always required companies to adapt and innovate, and now at a more rapid pace than previously. Trends are emerging and receding; product offerings change more rapidly; and the ways specialty parts are marketed and purchased are also evolving over time.

From The Hill

  • From the HillNobody likes moving. You carefully pack everything you own—and some items you didn’t realize you owned—and trust that they will survive the journey to their new home intact. It’s one of the more tiring and stressful endeavors in the human experience. Now imagine relocating your business across the country in the matter of just a few weeks. That’s exactly what the team at Hotchkis Sport Suspension did over the summer of 2019. Fortunately for them, their local elected officials were eager to welcome them with open arms.

Government Affairs

  • RPM ActSEMA sued the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last October for failure to meet a 2016 deadline to issue a regulation to implement the replica car law. In December, NHTSA responded to a federal court of appeals deadline by issuing a proposed rule. SEMA and industry members have urged the agency to quickly finalize the rule, which will allow companies to produce and sell turnkey replica cars. Under the law, low-volume automakers may sell up to 325 cars each year that resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board have issued guidelines and regulations covering the engine packages to be installed in these replica vehicles.

Industry News

  • ’21 Volkswagen Golf GTi: Estimated to be shown in the middle of 2020, the GTi promises performance upgrades and a weight reduction.

    Holden Colorado Refresh: Updates will be rather minor, delivering a reworked front fascia with new upper and lower grilles, foglight housings and a front bumper cover.

    ’21 GMC Yukon: Up front is a grille that is different from the one seen on the Denali, while the rear does not show any visible exhaust, unlike the Denali. 

  • Industry news from SEMA-member companies, including Truck Hero, Lubrication Specialties, Yakima and more.

  • Bill SimpsonBill Simpson, 79, motorsports safety pioneer, died December 16, 2019, after suffering a stroke. A class of 1988 SEMA Hall of Fame member and a 2003 Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee, Simpson drove dragsters and Indy cars, finishing 13th in the 1974 Indianapolis 500. After ending his career as a driver, he started Simpson Safety Products in his garage, and it grew into a business empire and helped reduce the fatality rate in all forms of racing.


  • InternationalFor one week in Las Vegas, the 2019 SEMA Show was once again the world’s epicenter of customizing, with exhibitors, trade buyers and media from 140 countries coming together to sell products, discover the latest trends and see the newest inventions, all while networking with the close-knit world of those who create, sell and cover the world’s leading automotive specialty equipment.

Member News

  • Following on the heels of successful events at the 2019 SEMA Show and elsewhere, the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) is geared up for another activity-filled year. Committed to expanding the network’s reach and providing more opportunities for engagement, education and career advancement, SBN has set its sights on a series of events targeted at both its traditional audience of professional industry women and female students to also embrace others within the SEMA community.

  • SEMA-member manufacturers are known for their creativity, craftsmanship and innovation, and they go to great lengths to design and engineer their products. To assist with product development, member companies from time to time utilize resources available through the SEMA Garage.

  • In the 22 years since SEMA’s Wheel Industry Council burst on the scene, the group—now known as the Wheel & Tire Council (WTC)—has stayed true to its core mission: namely to identify industry challenges, deliver educational solutions, and provide networking opportunities.

  • When it was announced late last spring that the Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA) had joined forces with the off-road segment and renamed the council the Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA), it signaled both a reaffirmation and a new beginning.

  • Competition is stiff, so what are you doing to increase sales? If your shop’s core business stems primarily from dealer-direct sales, start the year off with a bang by earning a coveted credential that can take your sales career to the next level and deliver a competitive edge.

  • Unlike most of the other SEMA councils and networks, the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) does not mark the SEMA Show in November as the beginning of “the holidays.” Quite the opposite.

  • During the late ’80s and early ’90s, SEMA’s Street Rod Market Alliance (SRMA)—the predecessor to the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA)—had a small booth in Street Rod Alley in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) at the SEMA Show. SRMA also had a feature-vehicle display area located nearby, which showcased several street rods of the day.

  • Every year since 1977, collector-car enthusiasts and auto restoration suppliers have flocked in droves to the annual classic- and collector-car swap meet, car corral and auction known as Spring Carlisle. Held on the massive fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Spring Carlisle last year featured 3,000 vendors and drew more than 100,000 gearheads intent on celebrating all things automotive.

  • As conducting business in the automotive specialty-equipment market becomes increasingly complex and competitive, business owners from all walks of the industry are looking for an edge that will help their businesses thrive and grow. As a result, companies need an increasing amount of information to make sound decisions for both the short- and long-term future.

  • Activating the next-generation talent pool is a hot topic. To help inspire future influencers and innovators, SEMA offers resources designed to engage students and provide a pathway to careers in the automotive aftermarket.

  • For up-and-coming, under-40 industry professionals, SEMA’s Young Executives Network (YEN) has long provided resources to help its members cultivate connections, sharpen skills and advance their careers through networking and education.

New Products

  • The performance products market—comprised of engine and drivetrain, electrical and ignition, intake and exhaust, cooling, safety and race gear—is one of the largest in the automotive aftermarket, with an estimated $10.63 billion in sales last year, according to the “2019 SEMA Market Report.” That reality was reflected last November at the 2019 SEMA Show’s New Products Showcase, where hundreds of new racing and performance-related products were on display.

Required Reading

  • Yahoo

    Many exhibiting companies begin announcing their SEMA Show efforts months before the start of the Show in hopes of drumming up interest. The goal is to entice attendees—especially buyers—to stop by their booths to see what they have to offer and thereby create business relationships. One way exhibitors bring attention to their SEMA Show efforts is by informing media outlets, such as those below, and their readers about the products they will showcase.

SEMA Heritage

  • HeritageIt’s February 1964 at the Grand National Roadster Show, and Petersen Publishing Company’s Bud Lang captures a rafters-eye view of crowds milling about some of the cars on display at the Oakland Exposition Building.