SEMA Show Director Tom Gattuso was initially drawn to event sales simply as a method to meet the automotive manufacturing people he’d eventually like to work for, but it wasn’t long until he realized that he preferred producing events and eventually worked his way into event management and direction. He’s now been doing it for 20 years, coming to SEMA in 2011 after working on new-car events for Auto Dealer Shows and then on off-road events for Advanstar Communications. He recently took a few minutes to talk about the 2015 SEMA Show.
At 1.16 million sq. ft. of exhibit space, the SEMA Show draws thousands of exhibitors, buyers, media and other attendees to a four-day car, truck and powersports extravaganza. The grounds of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC)—both within the exhibit halls and in the surrounding spaces—offer a profusion of sensory delights. In the listings below, we’ve detailed just a few of the highlights.
While almost half of all buyers placed orders at the 2014 SEMA Show, nearly 90% also had plans to make purchases from exhibitors after the Show, and many buyers said that they were researching for future purchases rather than planning to make a purchase at the event. Yet many exhibitors lose out on that business because they either don’t properly collect lead information or don’t follow up with quality leads following the Show.
On July 10, 2015, SEMA members joined with car clubs and thousands of enthusiasts to celebrate the sixth annual Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD). A wide range of official events was held in the United States, Canada and France to commemorate the day, designated by SEMA-requested U.S. Senate Resolution 196 (S. Res. 196), sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).
The 2015 SEMA Show, to be held November 3–6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), is on track to draw more than 2,400 exhibitors and more than 60,000 buyers. Those buyers will be in search of the newest automotive specialty-equipment products to sell to consumers during the coming year, and additional thousands of media representatives will be looking for innovative products to publicize. Last year, nearly 90% of buyers who attended the SEMA Show said that they planned to purchase products from exhibitors. With a little preparation, even first-time exhibitors can take full advantage of those sales opportunities at what has become the largest annual gathering of small businesses in the United States.
Each year, the SEMA Show provides hundreds of new leads to buyers looking for innovative new product lines. The 2015 Show will be no exception: As of July 20, 2015, the number of registered first-time exhibitors was more than 295, and the number continues to rise.
Every year, hundreds of first-time exhibitors venture to the SEMA Show and, for those who work the Show properly, the payoff can be huge. Luma III founder Kirk Lucas and his team put it all on the line to attend last year’s Show and walked away with two Best New Products Showcase awards, a stronger brand identity and new deals in the works.
Eight Young Executives Network (YEN) members rode along on the YEN Power Tour in June, a journey of more than 1,500 miles from Madison, Wisconsin, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In addition to visiting each of the seven stops scheduled for the Hot Rod Power Tour, the YEN program added a twist of its own: Josh Backes, Tim Brueggeman, Jared Chavez, Cathy Clark, Matthew Davis, Keith McWilliams, Troy Spackman and Tyler Wesely each became advocates for the network and the industry, highlighting the variety of career choices available in the automotive specialty-equipment market. By the end of the week, the participants had become good friends.
While trade events and large automotive gatherings such as the upcoming SEMA Show in November offer manufacturers unparalleled opportunities to introduce products to hungry buyers, they also present a challenge. How does a company break out and get noticed amid a sea of competitors and busy floor activity? For many companies, the answer is a show or project vehicle—which can not only grab attention at the Show but continue holding it long after if done right.
The 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) provided a look at the latest vehicle creations auto manufacturers are developing or introducing during the year. For the specialty-equipment industry’s manufacturers, industry influencers and opinion leaders, seeing the car and truck introductions provides an idea of what OEM product strategists think will attract consumers in dealer’s showrooms.
Here is a snapshot of the cars and trucks on display at this year’s NAIAS that members will want to keep an eye on for potential upgrade opportunities. We can foresee a number of recent introductions showing up at cruise nights, track days, road courses, dragstrips and off-road venues in the near future.