SEMA 2016: Looking Ahead

SEMA News—November 2016

CHRIS KERSTING

SEMA 2016: Looking Ahead

Chris KerstingThe SEMA Show is the one time each year when we all come together to do business, renew bonds with old friends and make as many new friends as possible. Proudly celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the SEMA Show has also been our industry’s primary location to learn about new technologies and gain new perspectives. This year’s Show is exceptionally rich in innovative business insights.

For example, the world is full of new and evolving marketing tools, one of which—virtual-reality (VR) technology—is on display in SEMA Central. Stop by for a demonstration and you’ll see why this compelling new medium is poised to become an effective means to connect with potential customers—both business to business and business to consumer. While you’re there, visit with the technology team from the SEMA Garage to catch up on useful tools for product development, including computer-aided design systems, coordinate measuring machine (CMM) scanning, SEMA’s Tech Transfer library and 3D printing services.

When it comes to the future of product marketing, SEMA is urging companies to take advantage of the tools and hands-on assistance provided by the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC). The ability to market your products in today’s digital world is reason enough to have your product information present in the industry’s largest standardized and centralized product-information library. Meet our SDC staff of data experts at the SEMA Show in their perch above Central Hall, booth 20579, just behind the Ford display. The SDC currently supports more than 490 brands, 4 million part numbers and 59 million vehicle application records. If your brand isn’t one of them, you’re missing out on a great SEMA resource that is helping other companies succeed—today and into the future.

How else is your trade association looking ahead? SEMA has launched several youth initiatives, aiming to get younger generations excited about automotive-based lifestyles and career opportunities. In addition to supporting established programs such as Hot Rodders of Tomorrow, SEMA is delivering new programs, including the SEMA Career Center that will take place at this year’s SEMA Show. The Career Center brings more than 600 automotive-minded students attending the SEMA Show together with scores of industry companies so that students can learn about career options and network with potential employers.

Another youth-engagement project you’ll hear about is the SEMA Young Guns competition—an offshoot of our SEMA Battle of the Builders contest. Battle of the Builders has been successful in spotlighting some of our industry’s great talent and outstanding rides while causing a wave of social-media and television coverage that energizes folks to live the gearhead dream. Young Guns is a similar competition that will focus on younger builders and will be a social-media-friendly program with content that can be used and shared online.

This year’s Young Guns program is available to builders and designers already attending the SEMA Show. Plans are in the offing for next year to extend the competition to next-generation builders from around the country, with a Young Guns Shootout culminating at the 2017 SEMA Show. You’ll be hearing more about this new initiative at the Show and as we move forward.

Meanwhile, we hope that you’ll make plans to be present at this year’s SEMA Battle of the Builders finale by taking in the SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited on Friday night. It’s the place to unwind after a successful week at the Show.

All indications are that this year’s Show will be memorable for many reasons. It was 50 years ago that roughly 100 small businesses first convened under the grandstands of Dodger Stadium. Today some 2,500 exhibitors and more than 160,000 attendees will fill the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center—a reminder that great things can spring from humble beginnings.

We wish the very best to those companies present this year that were with us 50 years ago (see the original 1967 exhibitor honor roll in “50 Years Later: The Pioneers” on p. 11). And rest assured that SEMA is working hard to help the industry build a future that will extend beyond the next 50 years.

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