Cover Story

In late January, all indicators pointed to another robust 2020 for the market. Then came the coronavirus. In response, major UTV manufacturers took decisive measures to safeguard employees and customers and weather the national shutdown initiated in April, and aftermarket manufacturers and retailers developed new ways of selling. More recently, as the summer powersports season moves into full swing, there is optimism that a significant rebound will be possible.


  • COVIDEven in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aftermarket was rolling up its sleeves for business. For operations able to stay open under essential-business declarations, that meant adopting the latest best practices in coronavirus mitigation. For those unable to stay open, it meant crafting innovative strategies to weather the lockdown until the green light came to reopen. Now that the economy is shifting into recovery mode, businesses in the latter category may be asking what “safely reopening” means. How can they best protect the health of employees and customers alike?

  • Brand ManagementThe COVID-19 pandemic caused many companies to scale back production or reduce operating hours, and it’s clear that consumers are looking for greater safety and security in their lives as the industry moves toward recovery. Based on information gathered from a variety of sources, the consensus is that the companies that are best positioned to deliver those attributes while still reliably delivering the products and services their customers depend on will have a unique opportunity to build upon and even expand their brand awareness in the coming years.

  • SEMA ShowFor most builder-enthusiasts, car-care and restyling products are among the most indispensable tools for customizing a vehicle. They can provide added measures of protection for paint, glass and chrome. They can lend upgrades to interior comfort and optimize exterior shine. Many of the most popular products can be purchased without breaking the bank. They’re available nearly everywhere that auto parts are sold—and even some places they’re not, such as in neighborhood car washes or convenience stores.

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

    Catalysts for growth in 2021 include bringing the industry a productive SEMA Show in November and the PRI Trade Show in December. As this issue of the magazine goes to print, both shows are coming together as planned, with the vast majority of businesses indicating determination and plans to set themselves up for a strong 2021 bounce-back.

Government Affairs

  • FTHThe presidential election is just a few months away and the balance of power in Congress and state capitols is up for grabs. Now is the time for the specialty automotive aftermarket to mobilize and make our voices heard. Although SEMA’s next Washington Rally will be in May 2021, it is still possible to meet your elected officials in their local districts this year. SEMA government affairs staff can help you forge a relationship with the men and women who make decisions that impact the industry by inviting an elected official to tour your business or arranging a community meeting with your lawmaker.

  • WisconsinWisconsin—Collector and Hobbyist Vehicles: SEMA-opposed legislation in Wisconsin to restrict eligibility and raise fees for collector and hobbyist vehicle registrations failed to pass the Assembly prior to a required legislative deadline. Currently, those vehicles must be more than 20 years old, and owners are required to pay twice the normal registration fee. If passed, the bill would have further limited each designation to vehicles 30 years old and older, expanded seasonal use restrictions, and increased the registration fees to three times the normal rate. In Wisconsin, a collector vehicle is defined as being at least 20 years old, preserved because of historical significance, and having had no body alterations. Vehicles eligible for hobbyist plates include street modifieds, replica vehicles, reconstructed vehicles and homemade vehicles.

Industry News

  • Corvette C8 Plug-In Hybrid: A curious C8 PHEV prototype was spotted with a rigged exhaust system that runs the exhaust through an exhaust flow analyzer tool.

    ’21 Ford Bronco Undisguised: This prototype of the ’21 Ford Bronco Sport has a signature boxy design that features an upright front fascia with Bronco headlight clusters, with a round headlight joined by a horizontal element.

    Three-Row Grand Cherokee: Jeep is set to get a number of three-row SUVs in the next few years, and the Grand Cherokee three-row seen here looks like it’ll be ready to join the truck-based Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

  • Industry news from SEMA-member companies, including The Retrofit Source, Aftermarket Performance Group, Accessible Technologies Inc. and more.

  • SEMA GarageAftermarket manufacturers seeking to develop products can take advantage of several exclusive SEMA-member benefits that lend themselves to physical distancing. Available throughout the year, these benefits may prove even more valuable given the prospect of current or future “shelter-at-home” orders.


  • InternationalSince 2004, the SEMA Global Media Awards program has been a staple of the SEMA Show. Journalists from throughout the world come to the Show with the purpose of identifying 10 new products displayed in the event’s New Products Showcase that are likely to succeed in their home countries. The participating media represent some of the industry’s top magazines, and the editors are among the most respected in the world.


  • InternetEssentially, a “Usually Loads Slow” splash screen served up by Google would pretty much be the kiss of death to any website, encouraging a web surfer to move along to an alternative site with better performance.

Member News

  • Young children learn their ABCs most often through fun activities and songs. Next come the Three Rs—Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic—a phrase first attributed to an article that appeared in an 1818 edition of The Lady’s Magazine. Flash forward 200 years and the talk among today’s educators is all about STEM.

  • With more than 1,000 members—all younger than 40—who work and reside across the United States and beyond, the Young Executives Network (YEN) strives to deliver resources to help young professionals sharpen skills and advance their careers.

  • “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” wrote the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which aptly describes many of the plans the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) had put in place for 2020 but which came to an abrupt halt as a consequence of the COVID-19 epidemic. First to go was an SBN Meet Up set for the Keystone Big Show. Plans for four regional Lunch and Learn events for mid-level female employees were also put on hold, and two CEO retreats for executive-level women and business owners, originally slated for summer and fall, may have to be rescheduled.

  • When the United States was put on a nationwide lockdown, SEMA councils and networks had to put some programs on hold while also moving forward with other initiatives to help keep members informed, motivated and involved. The Emerging Trends & Technology Network (ETTN) was no exception. According to network Chair Ian Lehn, ETTN is still open for business.

  • The Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) has long been a clearinghouse for information on trends, technology, product development and legislative and regulatory issues that affect the market segment it represents. For instance, to assist in the development of new products, the council created the WTC Wheel Measurement Database, which contains wheel measurement information on new vehicles accessible through measuring sessions held periodically at the SEMA Garage.

  • Truck culture is at the heart of the Truck & Off-Road Alliance (TORA). From its earliest days as the Truck Cap Industry Association, which later morphed into the Truck Cap & Accessory Association, to its more recent identity as the Light Truck & Accessory Alliance (LTAA), the group has continually maintained a forward-thinking approach to embracing businesses that can benefit from and contribute to the success of the industry.

  • When the SEMA Board of Directors approved the creation of a council structure in 1993 (in lieu of committees that existed at the time), the concept was considered somewhat radical. In the decades since, the council model has not only taken hold but mushroomed.

  • Creating a business climate that fosters growth and success for its members is at the heart of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council’s (MPMC) mission. To that end, the MPMC provides a range of resources—legislative and technical support, the Racing & Performance Section at the SEMA Show, seminars at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, and the “MPMC Business Guidelines Manual,” to name a few. But the council is perhaps best known for its annual Media Trade Conference.

  • The Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) has ranked education as a key component of its mission from its early days as the Street Rod Market Alliance (SRMA). In the mid-’90s, SEMA and SRMA launched the Street Rod Industry Trade Conference. Held at a hotel in San Antonio, Texas, in conjunction with Vintage Air, the yearly business-to-business event served as a launch pad for business-management seminars and hands-on technical workshops.

  • Two years ago, Tray Smith assumed the role of chair of the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) after having served two years as chair-elect. At the same time, Ben Tucker was chosen by his peers on the select committee to serve in the chair-elect slot.

  • SEMA-member accessory and performance-parts manufacturers nowadays have access to an array of tools to aid in the design and development of new products. They range from OEM CAD data and 3-D scanning and printing to vehicle measuring sessions and more. But that has not always been the case.

New Products

  • Of all the segments of the automotive aftermarket to have been impacted by 21st-century advances in original-equipment design and manufacturing technologies, few have been more dramatically affected than the collision repair and refinish industry. Lighter-weight body panels, tri-coat paint applications and advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) have all become commonplace on OE production platforms, and those advancements have posed fresh challenges to the market.

  • The automotive car-care and restyling segments of the specialty-equipment industry have been benefiting from opportunities ranging from color-change vinyl wraps, instant-healing paint protection film, virtually clear IR tint, ceramic coatings, detail sprays and orbital polishing technology. However, companies have had to adapt to the new environment that includes social distancing, and requires adapting marketing and communications. Challenges include trying to reach new customers and evolving to meet car dealership processes in a digital form. The following pages highlight many of the new restyling and car-care products that were showcased at the 2019 SEMA Show.

  • For many decades, motorcycles and ATVs dominated the powersports category. In recent years, however, UTVs have exploded onto the scene, becoming the category’s chief growth driver. Still, there is a lot of crossover in the powersports lifestyle, and enthusiasts frequently own more than one type of vehicle—not to mention a truck to haul their weekend toys.

Required Reading

  • Street Trucks

    The annual SEMA Show is where manufacturers in the automotive specialty-equipment industry exhibit their latest trends, newest technologies and hottest products. Many exhibitors enter their products in the New Products Showcase. As the number-one destination at the SEMA Show, the Showcase provides companies with a great opportunity to highlight their latest offerings, and it allows exhibitors to not only shine a spotlight on specific products but also generate foot traffic to their booths.

SEMA Heritage

  • HeritageThe gentleman on the left—Winston Roche of North Hollywood, California—bought his ’34 Ford sedan as a new car. His job as a civil engineer took him all over the country, and the Ford’s trusty Flathead V8 carried him on his rounds for 20-some years, covering more than 300,000 miles in the process. By late 1956, though, the engine was just worn out, having been through several rebuilds.