At a recent SEMA Town Hall meeting held at the K&N facility in Riverside, California, an attendee asked what SEMA is doing to help build the next generation of enthusiasts and to get young people interested in automotive careers. It’s a question that takes time to answer, because SEMA has long been working on a variety of programs and initiatives to enhance youth engagement and highlight career paths open to students.
As many members know, SEMA opened the SEMA Garage a little less than five years ago. The facility and its staff exist to help our manufacturer members with product development. Member utilization of the Garage makes clear that the industry is becoming more tech savvy, with wide use of SEMA’s library of OEM CAD data (Tech Transfer), sophisticated scanning devices and rapid prototyping technologies. That’s a positive outcome, and now we want to encourage more members to turn to the Garage to capture opportunities—and overcome challenges—as the industry addresses increasingly complex vehicle technology.
In this issue, we review highlights of the Battle of the Builders competition, which has become one of the industry’s notable and prestigious vehicle-build competitions in just a few short years. Celebrating this year’s top builders is also an opportunity to note that Battle of the Builders and SEMA Ignited were launched so that more people all over the world could get a chance to see—and be inspired by—the incredible vehicles, innovative products and gearhead personalities gathered at the trade-only SEMA Show. From social media to top publications and conventional television, the visibility of content from the Battle of the Builders is the result of SEMA and our industry members working together to help grow the base of enthusiasts and our future market.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association exists for the benefit of SEMA members. To serve well, the association relies on input and guidance from industry representatives on the SEMA board and councils. The board meets quarterly to lead and oversee priority initiatives, but it is in February each year that we dedicate our meeting to more strategic, long-range planning.
The 2017 SEMA Show was a great event in many ways and on many fronts. The most important measure of success is the value of the event to our industry members, and I’ve heard in recent weeks from many who felt that this was their best Show.
It’s been roughly five years since SEMA initiated two long-term projects intended to help SEMA members position themselves for growth. The initiatives were born from member requests for help as technology advances have accelerated—both in the workplace and in our automobiles.
As you would expect, this year’s SEMA Show includes thousands of incredible exhibits, mind-blowing vehicles, new products galore and is packed with opportunities to renew relationships, make new contacts and, above all, position your business for a profitable 2018.
It’s exciting and inspiring to once again be in full SEMA Show mode. On our end, we are finalizing new Show features and details for what looks to be another record-breaking gathering of our industry. We hope that your plans are coming together as well, but we know that doing the advance work to assure a smooth and productive Show—especially for exhibitors—can sometimes seem overwhelming. We want to remind everyone that SEMA has excellent tools available to help.
SEMA has a long history of working with young people to help them find their way in our industry. One of the earliest initiatives, the Young Executives Network, now has more than 1,200 members, providing a broad base for peer-group interaction and networking.
Throughout this spring and summer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you through our regional town hall meetings. These informal meetings allow industry members to have personal interactions with SEMA senior leadership, to share information about business concerns, and to learn more about the association’s programs and objectives.