Our cover story this month calls attention to a significant shift in how the federal government regulates replica cars. Enactment of this law was a great victory for SEMA and the industry, but exactly how this win was achieved is, perhaps, even more important. In many ways, we can chalk it up to a long-term effort to build key relationships.
Member businesses tell us that finding qualified prospects to fill jobs is among their toughest challenges. Our members are seeking the next generation of workers—the people who will bring the kind of skills, energy and ideas that every business needs to grow and prosper.
The 2015 SEMA Show has come and gone, and we’re pleased to report that thousands of companies once again took advantage of this annual gathering to set themselves up for a productive 2016.
The idea of an industry-owned product-information data repository, run like a utility company for the benefit of the industry, was a topic of discussion at SEMA for many years. Then, as web searches increasingly became a driving factor behind sales growth, the need for high-quality product data to power wholesale, retail and web-based business systems became more obvious. And the benefits to specialty parts manufacturers—improving speed to market and providing information capable of driving consumer purchase decisions—became “must-have” capabilities linked to success in the marketplace.
The 2015 SEMA Show is upon us, but when the Show is over, don’t be surprised if we ask for your feedback. Our annual post-Show survey goes out to more than 3,000 Show attendees. It is part of our process to provide a SEMA Show and an association that are responsive to needs, lead the industry to future opportunities and deliver return on investment. We consider it essential, and you should, too.
Each year, the team at SEMA aims to deliver a SEMA Show that grows in opportunities and value for our exhibitors and attendees. With just 31 days until we open the 2015 edition, plans have crystalized, registration numbers are up over last year, and it’s clear that the trend will continue. And yet our data indicates a change in the pattern, suggesting new opportunities late in the week.
In the specialty automotive industry, we can point to hundreds of successful businesses that were built through the energy and vision of a once-young person who persisted through a career lasting decades. And it’s equally common to find that, as entrepreneurs secure their businesses, they begin to concern themselves with the problem of staying relevant in a changing world and how their businesses might benefit from the next generation of innovators.
The efforts and outcomes secured by SEMA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C., are among the association’s most highly rated benefits, according to our annual member satisfaction survey. While the D.C. team is a key factor, success is a function of each of you taking part and putting your strength into the effort—helping us make a deep impact on the policy discussions and decisions that are critical to the future of our industry.
With the arrival of July, SEMA initiates a new fiscal year and budget. It’s an exciting and challenging time for both the association staff and the Board of Directors. As we embark on another financial cycle, we can report that good management and long-term financial planning have put the association in position to invest in tools and programs to help members with product development, vehicle technology integration, regulatory compliance and delivering digital marketing content to the world. We are pressing forward today with significant services and tools that will benefit members for years to come. But you have to use the programs to get the benefits!
We think most SEMA members would agree that we’ve arrived at an interesting time for the automotive industry. Supply has outpaced demand for oil; the dollar is one of the stronger currencies internationally; and automotive manufacturing is in a growth mode.
That’s very different from 2009, when new-car sales were down, the dollar was weak and oil prices were $100 a barrel and climbing. SEMA members had to adapt, be innovative and efficient, and had to look for alternate sources of revenue. It also sparked some of our members to recognize significant opportunities in expanding to overseas markets.