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.
Even 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?
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.
For 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.
Throughout the years, the automotive aftermarket has adapted many times to changes in consumer taste and advances in product development. Through it all, however, Hot Rod Alley at the SEMA Show has remained a steady industry focal point, providing a forum for some of the aftermarket’s leading lights to showcase their latest, most innovative parts and projects. What began with a handful of fabricators tinkering with pre-war Fords in their home shops has blossomed, decades later, into a global industry boasting thousands of builders who comprise a $1.26-billion market, according to the most recent survey from the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA).
Businesses seem to increasingly find themselves at the mercy of some sort of natural disaster, whether it’s a hurricane, an earthquake, a flood or a wild fire. As a result, it’s crucial for business owners to be prepared and have a response plan in place in the event the unthinkable happens.
Ted Wentz III, CEO of Quadratec Inc., has been elected to the 2020–2021 SEMA Board of Directors in the Distributor/Retailer category. He will replace outgoing Board member Greg Adler of Greg Adler Motorsports, effective in July.
As the automotive aftermarket has gradually adopted digital technologies, so too has the hot-rod aftermarket. Vintage sheetmetal nowadays may house OBD-II-spec engines and drivetrains, 3-D-printed accessories, aftermarket advanced driver-assistance systems and even Bluetooth connectivity. Whatever technologies builders leverage to craft their projects, however, a constantly evolving hot-rod aftermarket can meet their particular needs. What follows is a survey of related products from the New Products Showcase at the 2019 SEMA Show, along with some insights from a number of industry leaders.
Getting “unstuck” is a popular small-business topic, and there’s no end to advice articles online. Most of them deal chiefly with burnout and the motivational blocks that can stymie a business owner. However, small-business expert Barry Moltz believes that there’s more to getting a retail business unstuck than motivational gimmickry—even while he concedes that it’s hard for a business owner to exude enthusiasm day in and day out.
One of the major perks of working at SEMA has been exposure to a wide array of interesting personalities. Like so many, I grew up inspired by the countless influential talents found in the automotive field. The well-known faces and brands are usually linked to a unique style of craft, innovation or entertainment. While I don’t always share their tastes, I can appreciate their unique expressions. At the end of the day, a common thread unites us enthusiasts: the love and dedication for all things four-wheeled.