SEMA Town Hall Meetings
Bring Your Voice and Build Your Future
SEMA member Jonathan Mill of Keyway Innovations asks a question at the SEMA Garage Town Hall meeting.
SEMA held two successful Town Hall meetings in 2015, giving members and prospective members a chance to catch up with each other and the state of the association. The first SEMA Town Hall was held in 2011, in an effort to keep an ear to the ground for feedback and challenges in the industry. Since then, the association has held 14 of these meetings at various locations around the country, finding it an effective way to listen and respond face-to-face.
Association staff typically works hand-in-hand with key leaders from member companies to bring relevant and engaging events to attendees. These meetings are informal, each having unique discussion topics but with a few common threads: discussing the current state of the industry, gathering feedback from members and providing quality regional networking opportunities. They are open to all members as well as individuals in the automotive aftermarket who haven’t joined but want to learn more.
The first Town Hall of the year was held on January 23 at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California. More than 110 SEMA members joined local business leaders, the SEMA Board of Directors and staff for the evening. In addition to networking and strengthening business relationships, attendees also toured the SEMA Garage—Industry Innovations Center and learned how to get the most from the product-development and marketing tools at their disposal.
An engaging discussion followed tours of the Garage. Topics of conversation centered on next-gen initiatives, connecting through council and network groups, SEMA’s partnership with Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research and legislative resources available to members.
Panelists Doug Evans (Luken Communications LLC), Tim Martin (K&N Engineering Inc.) and Nate Shelton (Driven Performance Brands) shared information about SEMA involvement from a Board of Directors perspective. The panelists familiarized the group with the association’s youth engagement efforts, including supporting shop classes in high schools and collaborating with the Alex Xydias Center for Automotive Arts in Pomona, California. They also shared that the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow engine-building contest has been incorporated into both the SEMA and PRI Shows, giving talented students many opportunities to interact with industry veterans.
The evening included a special viewing of the trailer for the SEMA Ignited Battle of the Builders special, which first aired on the Velocity Network on March 8.
A second Town Hall also served as the association’s 2015 general membership meeting. For this event, SEMA partnered with Turn 14 Distribution Inc. in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, where the meeting was held on June 4. More than 100 individuals attended. For the first time, SEMA team members sat on the panel alongside Chairman of the Board Nate Shelton. Young Executives Network members and past Launch Pad winners Ian Lehn (Boostane) and Jonathan Mill (Keyway Innovations) moderated while Shelton, Chris Kersting (SEMA president and CEO), Mike Spagnola (SEMA vice president, OEM and product development) and Steve McDonald (SEMA vice president, government affairs) answered questions about the SEMA Data Co-op, consumer awareness, the SEMA Garage and other hot topics. Attendees were among the first to receive the news of Congress’s introduction of a bill allowing limited production of turnkey replica cars. U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle (PA-13) was also in attendance to give his constituents insight on industry issues from his perspective on Capitol Hill.
“Hosting the SEMA Town Hall was certainly one of the best events we’ve been involved with,” reflected Daryl Sampson, director of marketing at Turn 14 Distribution. “As a warehouse distributor (WD), having the event at our facility allowed us to network with a cross section of industry people that we normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to. They included customers, retailers, other WDs and manufacturers. The SEMA Town Hall is an asset to our industry. It gives everyone involved the opportunity to learn more about our industry and its members in an intimate setting.”
The 2016 Town Hall series schedule will be released later this fall, and all members and prospective members are invited to attend. Member participation is key to the success of each Town Hall meeting, and this truly is one of the best platforms for members to express their thoughts. By attending the events and sharing your challenges, you have the opportunity to join a community and help SEMA plan for the future. Plus, you might just meet someone who could help you build your business.