A Nat Danas Scholarship has been established as part of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. Danas, a restyling industry icon, was instrumental in founding SEMA's Professional Restylers Organization.
A Nat Danas Scholarship, to be presented annually to students pursuing or advancing a career in the auto trim and restyling industry, has been established as part of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund with an endowment of $58,000. The announcement was made by the Nat Danas Scholarship Committee at the SEMA Industry Awards Banquet, held during the 2012 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Danas, who passed away in May, was the founder and publisher of Auto Trim & Restyling News magazine. A restyling industry icon, Danas began his career in the 1940s as owner of an auto-trim business. He founded the magazine in 1952 to serve the trim, restoration and restyling industries. In 1953, he formed the industry's first trade association—the National Association of Auto Trim Shops.
Danas produced numerous trade shows and conferences showcasing emerging trim and restyling trends, and offering the industry's first formalized educational workshops and technical training clinics. He also pioneered the concepts of adherence to best practices and recognition of skill-level achievement through the establishment of a voluntary code of ethics and the Master Craftsman Award.
In 1988, Danas was instrumental in founding the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO). He later worked with former SEMA President Chuck Blum to bring PRO under the SEMA umbrella in 1990. A long-time SEMA member, he served multiple terms on the PRO Select Committee and received the council's lifetime achievement award in 1995.
"Nat's knowledge and experience, combined with his dedication to education and training, had a profound impact on the trim and restyling industry," said Ellen McKoy of EMK Marketing and a member of the Danas Scholarship Committee. "Throughout his career, Nat not only earned the respect of colleagues nationwide, he also helped to establish the restyling industry as a vital segment of the specialty automotive equipment marketplace. With this endowment, we know that Nat's vision and legacy will live on in perpetuity."
According to McKoy, the scholarship was initially established at a Midwest university in 1987 with a bequest of $25,000 raised at a restyling industry tribute to Danas. When the auto-trim degree program was discontinued, the Danas Scholarship Committee set its sights on moving the endowment to the SEMA Scholarship Fund. Other committee members include Phil Edwards, Infinity Sales & Marketing; Maria Roman, Roman Chariot; and Neil Rosenberg, ITTCO Sales.
"We are excited by the prospect of offering Nat Danas scholarships to worthy students seeking to advance their career in the restyling industry," said Joel Ayres, chairman of the SEMA Scholarship Committee.
The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund is a nonprofit group dedicated to fostering industry leadership by supporting the educational pursuits of current and future automotive professionals. The Nat Danas Scholarship will be among the many scholarships SEMA awards annually to students pursuing careers in the automotive aftermarket. A total of $130,000 was awarded to 69 individuals in 2012. Potential applicants can apply now at www.SEMA.org/scholarships, with applications due March 29, 2013.