SEMA News - August 2009
By Annie Kang
Cultivating Professional and Personal Relationships Within the Specialty-Equipment Industry
Mentor Jason Bruce and mentee Dan Biezonsky are the perfect success story for the SEMA Mentoring Program, powered by the SEMA Businesswoman’s Network (SBN). Not only do they fulfill the program’s goal to connect an experienced SEMA member with a SEMA mentee to cultivate the talents of the mentee, but they have also developed a lasting friendship that will continue to connect and benefit them throughout their careers in the specialty-equipment industry.
“The reason why I was interested in joining the SEMA Mentoring Program was to look for the fastest way to succeed; to start my own business within the specialty-equipment market,” said Biezonsky. “Having a mentor like Jason has made the utmost impact in every single aspect of my business–successfully, always successfully.”
Biezonsky credited Bruce for sharing the knowledge that can only be gained through years of industry experience. He explained how Bruce reviewed and revised the plans for his startup business.
“Thanks to Jason’s advice, I was able to start up my company a lot quicker,” said Biezonsky. “His advice was very tangible. He literally read my entire business plan and told me where he thought I should start out and how I should proceed. I have literally followed his plan to a ‘T’ and it has made my business take off.”
Bruce acknowledged that the relationship has been mutually rewarding.
“I think more than anything what I have gotten out of the SEMA Mentoring Program is the fact that I have another contact in the industry who has turned into a nice friend as well as the satisfaction of helping someone who needed assistance,” said Bruce, director of national sales for Advanced Flow Engineering. “I was able to get him in touch with some of my contacts and provide him with some networking opportunities that he wouldn’t have been able to get on his own.”
The SEMA Mentoring Program was established to create structured, confidential and trusting relationships between SEMA mentors who offer their industry experience, guidance and support to mentees interested in further developing their professional careers in the specialty-equipment industry.
“We’ve got CEOs, SEMA board members and many industry leaders with vast expertise in many different areas signed up as mentors willing to share their knowledge,” said Kellie Colf, SBN select committee member.
“Sometimes the mentee is an individual who is new to the industry and is looking to get more involved; other times it is someone who has been in the industry for a long time but is looking for help and guidance in something,” said Trina Wilson, SBN mentoring task force lead. “We also get students who are pursuing an aftermarket career and getting a degree somehow related to the specialty-equipment industry. We help literally anyone.”
The process of matching a mentor with a mentee begins with both parties filling out a questionnaire. The mentor and mentee are then selected based on their areas of interest and expertise within the industry as well as their duties, education and proximity.
The program is available to all SEMA-member company employees and is administered by the SEMA Businesswoman’s Network.
“I think the SEMA Mentoring Program is important because, frankly, this industry is built on tribal knowledge,” said Bruce. “If knowledge is not passed down to the younger generation and put on the fast track, it can inevitably be lost. This industry can be kind of guarded, and if there is an opportunity to find open doors and gain contacts to get into the industry, that is valuable.”
“I wouldn’t have the type of access to someone like Jason if he weren’t my mentor,” said Biezonsky. “Building a relationship with a mentor like Jason is much more valuable than trying to get information from someone you would just come across within the industry.”
There are three ways to benefit from the SEMA Mentoring Program:
Ask the Mentor: A mentee submits a question though the SEMA website. The question is matched to the most qualified mentor, and the mentor contacts the individual directly with the answer. Submit a question now.
Short-Term Mentoring: The mentee is paired with a mentor to assist in a situation or project that may not require a lot of time from either party. The duration for short-term mentoring is typically up to 12 months.
Long-Term Mentoring: The mentee is paired with someone who will guide the individual in all aspects of potential business growth and ongoing career development. The duration for long-term mentoring is meant to last for more than one year.