Last week, I spent time at the SEMA Show. Founded in 1963, the Specialty Equipment Market Association is a lobbying group and professional organization made-up of some 7,000 companies worldwide, which manufacture performance and appearance products for a near-$40 billion automotive aftermarket: consumers wanting to personalize their cars and trucks.
Their annual exhibition in Las Vegas draws about 100,000 participants from around the globe, including those from product manufacturers, buyers ranging from teams working for giant chains like Pep Boys to a single person from a local hot rod shop, members of the enthusiast and general-interest media and the car-makers themselves.
SEMA did try to create some excitement for "green" products, services and marketing approaches. One exhibit showcased companies active in the development, deployment and marketing of green technologies, while SEMA tried to prove that being environmentally friendly can also be "cool."
Here are some of my SEMA show highlights:
Watched Charlie Vogelheim,Vice President, Automotive Development of JD Power & Associates do a great interview on Car Crazy TV on the state of the automotive industry amid the hustle and bustle of the busy show goers ogling all the hundreds custom cars on display outside.
One of my favorite annual events during SEMA is the Speed Networking Breakfast--Powered by the SEMA Business Women's Network which has been touted as the fastest and quite possibly the most productive networking experience one can experience at a show that is packed with important people to meet. There were over 200 attendees and many automotive women I admire and had a wonderful opportunity to chat over breakfast and network with. The SBN Person of the Year was Amy Faulk CEO of Hypertech and the SBN Athena Award this year went to Luanne Brown of eTool Developers. Watch this great video here on women commenting on women working in the auto industry and breaking in and through the glass ceiling: SEMA Women.
AskPatty.com automotive experts Dana Schaeffer Chop Shop Customs, Wendy Engleburg, owner of AutoVisuals and Daytona Dayton, CEO/President of Daytona & Friends Global Enterprises, Inc., and Producer/Host of Daytona & Friends National Radio all attended the SBN breakfast and Daytona was broadcasting live all week from the SEMA show floor. We did a nice radio interview together and got caught up on all of our travels this past year. Daytona discovers great automotive and racing people making a positive difference for others.
AskPatty.com expert woman Gigi Ho was a SEMA educational speaker this year as well. She is the vice-president and co-founder of Digital Performance Inc. (DPI). Started in 2001, DPI has grown to become a leading eBusiness solutions provider with products and services tailored for the automotive aftermarket. Along with DPI's eCataloging and eCommerce solutions, she and her business partner developed and successfully marketed DPI's aftermarket search engines to a viewership of more than 14 million visitors annually.
I had an opportunity to enjoy a private, after-hours gathering to meet and mingle with auto dealerships, industry executives, OEM representatives with hosts for the evening--Automotive News, NADA and SEMA --at a gala reception welcoming auto dealers to the 2008 SEMA Show. I was able to unwind amidst stunning displays of stylized vehicles and enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a hosted bar. My good friend Ellen McCoy, SEMA's senior director for dealer relations headed up this event.
I had the honor of being a judge for the Tire Review annual Top Shop Awards and was on hand for the presentation to Atlantic Tire. Based on the tough judging criteria, becoming a Top Shop Award semi-finalist was difficult, to say the least. Nearly 100 tire dealerships entered this year, and each entry was reviewed by judges to select 22 semi-finalists. To best understand Atlantic Tire, one has to understand its founder. The dealership is the culmination of Blackman's 30-year dream of being able to give back. Dirt poor as a child, Blackman started in the tire business after putting himself through North Carolina State, when a man he reverently refers to as "Mr. Perry" gave him a job at a Goodyear company store. In return, Blackman pledged to pay it forward, to someday take a young person under his wing and provide the same opportunity Mr. Perry afforded him. Ask any employee about the secret to Atlantic Tire & Service's success and their answer is quick and simple. "It's all about customer service," says Davis Morgan, one of Atlantic's store managers, echoing the universal opinion of his teammates. "We strive to make it a comfortable, confident experience." But, according to Atlantic Tire founder and President Anthony Blackman, the secret lies in people like Morgan and the two-store dealer's 40 other employees. They are the ones, he says, that make Atlantic Tire & Service what it is today - and the winner of the 2008 Tire Review Top Shop Awards, sponsored by Ammco/Coats.
Met with Black Magic's Bree Sandlin, brand manager of appearance products to learn more about her career and new product introductions. I will be posting her interview in a separate post soon. Black Magic(R) branded products are produced and marketed by Shell Lubricants. The term 'Shell Lubricants' collectively refers to the companies of the Shell Group engaged in the lubricants business. Shell lubricants companies are global leaders in lubricants and operate in approximately 120 countries worldwide. They manufacture and blend products for use in a range of applications, from consumer motoring to food processing and heavy industry to commercial transport. The Shell portfolio of top quality lubricant brands includes Pennzoil(R), Quaker State(R), FormulaShell(R), Shell Tellus(R), Shell Cassida(R), Shell ROTELLA(R) T, Shell Spirax(R) and a portfolio of car care products and Jiffy Lube(R) services.
So many awesome new products and accessories to see as well. I love the SEMA Show, a smorgasbord of sights, sounds and a total cool car extravaganza for a car girl like me, even some great pet safety products like this one....sooooo cool!
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