Mike Imlay

Attract Buyers Before the SEMA Show

Four Expert Tips for Building Online Buzz for Your Booth Starting Today

The latest registration statistics for this year’s SEMA Show indicate a more than 5% increase in the number of buyers planning to hit the Show floor on Tuesday–Friday, November 4–7. With more buyers than ever coming to the Show, an exhibitor’s obvious goal is to entice as many of them into the company booth as possible. You’ll likely do this with new-product introductions, updates to signature product lines, booth demonstrations, project-vehicle reveals and even, perhaps, celebrity appearances. However, all of those tactics do little good if you don’t build buzz about them ahead of time.

Web Suppliers

Industry data standardization has led to an explosion of parts and related information that can now be made available to dealers and aftermarket retail outfits online. Today’s web developers offer manufacturers as well as end users powerful tools to disseminate and access a seemingly infinite number of products in the marketplace by part, vehicle and application. Online Tool-Building for Your Business

In many ways, developing a strong web presence has become a whole lot simpler. In other ways, it can be more confusing than ever.

“With all the technology out there, websites are just easier to build now than they used to be,” said Bill Lundberg, product manager, automotive industry, for ARI (formerly 50 Below). “Local website designers have become abundant. Many designers still focus on the desktop version. Great website presence, however, relies on helping your customers on all types of devices and using the best tools for the job.”

Utility Task Vehicles By the Numbers

A Powersports Category Snapshot

SEMA research indicates that more than a third of automotive accessory enthusiasts are likely to own a powersports vehicle. That means the powersports market offers great crossover potential for aftermarket businesses catering to other specialty-equipment segments. So what’s one of the hottest trends in the powersports arena?

The SEMA-commissioned report notes that approximately 670,000 UTV models were sold from 2010 to 2012. This is consistent with other market analyses that have predicted continued healthy growth of the segment through 2015.

The New SEMA Garage

The Innovations Center Opens for Business

The photo you see on the cover of this month’s SEMA News was taken in the newly completed SEMA Garage photo studio. It’s a shot of rock guitarist Billy Gibbons, who was kind enough to pose with his project car, which SO-CAL Speed Shop is preparing for the 2014 SEMA Show. Gibbons was on hand to view progress on the car, confer with SO-CAL designer/builders Pete Chapouris and Jimmy Shine, and to tour the SEMA Garage, which is now officially open for business.

The Hot-Rod Market

One of the great things about the hot-rod market is the wide range of customizations embraced by enthusiasts. Vehicles such as this Cutworm Specialties rod get tricked out with every imaginable category of aftermarket parts.A Classic Segment, Still Growing Strong

Who isn’t thrilled by the look and performance roar of a classic hot rod? Virtually synonymous with the earliest days of the automotive specialty-equipment industry, hot rodding never seems to grow old. In fact, the market segment has remained incredibly resilient, even in the face of the recently bumpy economy.

A Look At The Racing and Performance Powertrain Market

A Ford 408 engine by Blueprint Engines. Just one of the broad varieties of crate engines available from the engine builder.By Mike Imlay

Racers, street performance enthusiasts, four wheelers, restorers and boat owners all need engines, which means that, at some point, they tap into the performance niche occupied by engine builders and, more often than not, the specialty shops that install replacement engines. It’s a segment composed of small businesses, not-so-small businesses and by OEM crate-engine distributors—all offering powertrain solutions.

In fact, use of ready-made drop-in crate engines with known horsepower and torque specifications has become a driving force in the marketplace in recent years. In particular, the GM LS series has become...

Racing Update

Some Hot Segments to Watch

For many businesses in the automotive aftermarket, racing remains the lifeblood. This industry was founded on passion and performance, and automotive racing continues to drive product research and development and retail sales, inspiring manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike. After taking a hit from a rough economy over the past several years, racing is seeing a resurgence. While many motorsports segments are trending upward, there are a few in particular that merit watching in the coming year. Following the trends in these hot segments can lead to greater marketing success for all levels of the industry.

RETAIL SPOTLIGHT: Kings Tire & Wheels Crowned by Service and Referrals

Kings Tire & Wheel owner Sam Batanian (right) and his son “Junior”—who manages the current chain of three retail outlets—in their original store in El Monte, California.“I was about 26 years old at that time and didn’t know very much about the area,” laughed Batanian. “I soon found out that within a block there were at least a hundred mechanics. There are really no customers in El Monte. They’re all mechanics and workers here. You can’t even do an oil change on a car because everyone is doing his own.”

Nevertheless, Batanian has managed to build an extremely successful wheel and tire business over the years—so successful that he now has two additional stores in the greater Southern California area, one in Palmdale and another in Camarillo. In fact, he envisions a chain of 10 to 15 outlets throughout the Southland within the next few years.

Fresh Faces, Fresh Ideas

What’s Driving the Industry’s Young Entrepreneurs?

A lot has been said and written lately about the “aging” of the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Built over roughly six decades by hands-on parts and hardcore speed and performance innovators, the automotive aftermarket is now an industry topping $30 billion. However, questions currently abound over whether it will continue to attract younger enthusiasts—not only as consumers but as entrepreneurs.

2013 Global Tire Expo Powered by TIA

The Trade Event’s Continued Growth Bodes Well for the Tire Industry

Each year, SEMA teams up with the Tire Industry Association (TIA) to present the Global Tire Expo Powered by TIA—a unique “show within the SEMA Show” that focuses exclusively on the needs of the tire-business community. Targeted to all segments of the tire industry, including light duty, medium duty, heavy duty, retreading, recycling and more, this tire exhibition and conference stands as the industry’s foremost comprehensive trade gathering.

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