By Amanda Gubbins
Ten up-and-coming executives in the specialty-equipment industry will have the opportunity to attend the SEMA Show on the association’s tab this year.
The SEMA Show YEN Fellowship is a benefit available to SEMA-member company employees under the age of 40 through the Young Executives Network (YEN). This free group provides members with professional development opportunities alongside others in the industry. In particular, the fellowship program demonstrates SEMA’s commitment to recognizing and developing talent among the next generation of specialty-equipment professionals.
Candidates for the fellowship submit an application and essays, which are used to select the final 10 award winners. The selected participants then have the chance to develop their business skills and expand their professional network by attending events at the Show. Following their week in Vegas, they share about their experiences in three short articles.
Congratulations to this year’s award winners:
Amanda Watt, Torklift International
Amanda Watt is the automotive marketing coordinator for Torklift International—a manufacturer of aftermarket automotive and RV accessories. Watt is a graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in communications and minor in business. Though she has worked in the automotive world for only six months, she has already developed a love for it.
“There is so much to learn about the automotive industry,” said Watt. “It’s always changing—there’s never a dull moment.”
Some of Watt’s projects have included shooting video at a racetrack, training dealers on our products and rally planning. She belongs to both YEN and the SEMA Businesswomen's Network (SBN).
Kenna Primm, Roush Yates
Kenna Primm is the director of marketing for Roush Yates and received her bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of Arkansas. A long-time NASCAR fan, she interned with Daytona International Speedway and also achieved her dream of attending the NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI).
While at NTI, Primm developed the Universal Motorsports Team—a student group that volunteered at different tracks to gain hands-on experience. She graduated at the top of her class as one of the only females.
Primm has been at Roush Yates for more than four years and uses her technical knowledge from NTI every day on the job as she markets the company.
Susan Rosales, Pinnacle Wheel
During her 12 years in the specialty-equipment industry, Susan Rosales has climbed her way to the top from an entry-level sales position, to working side-by-side with the company’s CEO as the general manager for Pinnacle Wheel.
Rosales assisted in restructuring the company, and has raised brand awareness by developing new wheel styles and introducing brands, such as Noir Wheels.
Rosales’ military background has attributed to her work ethic and go-getter attitude. As an active member of YEN and SBN, she plans to use all resources and connections to expand her own knowledge and help others attain the same level of confidence.
Adam Brown, Michael Kunzman & Associates
Growing up in a suburb of Detroit, Adam Brown was introduced to cars at a young age. His grandfather worked for Chrysler, and his father remains a passionate collector and enthusiast. Corvettes and Mopars were a common sight at the Brown household during his childhood, and sparked an interest for him in the high-performance aftermarket.
Brown graduated from the University of Michigan and joined Michael Kunzman and Associates (MKA) in 2011. As part of the MKA team, he is involved in order entry, customer follow up, event coordination, processing warranty and media creation for numerous manufacturers.
Chris Potter, COMP Performance Group
Chris Potter’s early interest in all things mechanical led him to attend Kansas State University, where he graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
While in school, Potter was heavily involved with Powercat Motorsports—K-State’s student design team for the Formula SAE series—which designs, fabricates and races an open wheel-style race car each year for collegiate competition. He served in many positions, including shop manager and lead powertrain engineer.
As a design engineer for the COMP Performance Group, he has been a part of many different projects, working with an OEM road-racing program to drivetrain components for dirt-track racing, and developing appearance and speed parts for the traditional hot rod.
Sergio Ramirez, Airflow Research Heads
Sergio Ramirez, engineering manager at Airflow Research Heads Inc. has more than 20 years of manufacturing engineering experience and involvement in the creation of many complex aerospace, medical, entertainment and automotive components. From concept sketches to CAD modeling to CNC programming/machining, Ramirez enjoys taking a simple idea and making it a reality.
Ramirez’s recent contributions to the automotive aftermarket can be seen in new techniques he has brought to CNC porting of cylinder heads, specifically in reverse engineering and new five-axis simultaneous tool paths. He has also been involved in prototype designs and manufacturing of components for several motorsports and OEM vehicles.
Ben Chase, Goodies Speed Shop
When he was 16, Chase was hired by Goodies Speed Shop, where he started sweeping floors and stocking shelves. The manager saw potential and gave him a shot at helping customers. In less than a year, Chase was one of the store’s top performers, and he never looked back. By age 21, he was running the service department while attending San Jose State University. After graduation, Chase went to work in the finance department of a local car dealership, but he soon returned to Goodies as the general manager.
Chase enjoys cruising in his ’70 Chevelle SS, going to track days in his C5 Corvette and taking his WRX snowboarding in the winter.
Wyatt Tegtmeier, Speedway Motors
Wyatt Tegtmeier credits his love of cars to his father and grandfathers. They, along with numerous stacks of Hot Rod magazine, helped Tegtmeier develop a passion for the performance automotive aftermarket. Tegtmeier earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
At Speedway Motors, Tegtmeier has worked in the warehouse, marketing and e-commerce, has run booths at show events and assisted with the world-record-holding Speedway Motors Bonneville Streamliner in 2010. All of these experiences contributed to his current position as web content manager for SpeedwayMotors.com. The task of educating customers is the driving force behind the content he and his team creates.
Rebeca Olavarrieta, Roco 4x4
As a teenager, Rebeca Olavarrieta was the kid at the track everyone thought was looking out for her father's car, but was in reality racing her own supercharged Mustang Cobra. There, she had the opportunity to get hands on-experience in the performance side of the automotive industry.
After graduating cum laude with a finance degree from Florida International University, Olavarrieta dedicated her time to her business, Roco4x4. The off-road shop and store allowed her to immerse herself in the truck accessory market and also gave her the opportunity to build her own truck, which won the SEMA feature vehicle award at the 2011 SEMA Show.
In 2012, she was chosen as one of the female technicians to work in the award-winning SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women. Olavarrieta has also competed in international off-road events in Venezuela, Honduras, Panama and Germany.
Chris Lindh, PartsForSpeed
Chris Lindh is the driving force behind PartsForSpeed. He got his start working at parts counters at Iconic Western Auto and later Pep Boys. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a business degree, Lindh worked for a prominent regional warehouse distributor of performance parts. He redesigned their print catalog, which is distributed to 300,000 auto enthusiasts. Seeing an opportunity in the market, Lindh founded PartsForSpeed.com in 2009 with the goal of supplying quality performance parts with outstanding customer service.