And The Honors Go To…

SEMA News—January 2017


By Mike Imlay

And The Honors Go To…

Highlights From The 2016 SEMA Show’s Industry Awards Banquet

  And the Honors Go To
Emceed by industry headliners Dennis Pittsenbarger and Jessi Combs, the 2016 SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet celebrated standout leaders who exemplify the passion, drive and excellence that has been the hallmark of the automotive specialty-equipment marketplace—and SEMA’s mission—for more than a generation.

No retrospective of 2016 SEMA Show highlights would be complete without the annual SEMA Industry Awards Banquet. Taking up the 50th anniversary Show theme, “We Built This,” the Thursday-evening event celebrated standout leaders who exemplify the passion and drive for excellence at the heart of the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Emceed by Dennis Pittsenbarger and Jessi Combs, the evening also featured entertainment by comedian Larry the Cable Guy, known for his catchphrase “Git-R-Done” as well as his voice work as Mater in the animated films Cars and Cars 2.

But the true stars of the night were the industry names recognized with SEMA’s highest honors, including the SEMA Person of the Year, the Manufacturer of the Year, the GEN-III Innovator Award, the Manufacturers’ Rep Agency of the Year and the Warehouse-Distributor of the Year. The ceremonies were also punctuated with tributes to the three most recent SEMA Hall of Fame inductees.

“It’s exciting and even profound in a way that, from humble beginnings, this industry has been able to move forward, to broaden, to thrive and to be hitting this 50th anniversary of the SEMA Show with such momentum and success,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “I think it speaks of some important shared qualities. It speaks of entrepreneurial spirit, of adaptability, of grit and perseverance. It speaks of genius in innovation and creativity. It speaks of the great things that happen when people are authentic, when their work is what they really care about.”

The people and companies honored at the banquet were chosen because they embody all these qualities and more. The following is the roster of recipients, with the exception of K&N Engineering’s Tim Martin, SEMA Person of the Year, who will be profiled in next month’s issue of SEMA News.

Manufacturer of the Year: WeatherTech

And the Honors Go To
Manufacturer of the Year, WeatherTech.

The Manufacturer of the Year award honors a company that demonstrates outstanding performance in working with warehouse distributors, manufacturers’ representatives and others in the reseller community. The recipient is chosen for an exceptional combination of business practices, innovative processes and customer satisfaction that makes it a leader in its field.

Founded in 1989, WeatherTech has become a leading name in interior and exterior accessories. Its employees run the gamut from warehouse staff and salespeople to toolmakers and journeymen, and the company is noted for its support tools to resellers. Rick Hermann, national outside sales director, accepted the award for WeatherTech. Edelbrock and MagnaFlow were also finalists for the honors.

Manufacturers’ Representative Agency of the Year: Kunzman & Associates

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Manufacturers’ Representative Agency of the Year, Kunzman & Associates.

A new product, increasing sales, a brand-new company or possible expansion to new territory—these are just a few reasons aftermarket businesses seek out the skills of a manufacturer’s representative agency. Whatever the reason for turning to a manufacturers’ rep, however, the bottom-line goal is always the same: getting products into the hands of consumers. With this award, SEMA recognizes the efforts of an agency that exceeds expectations with integrity and professionalism.

A well-known industry icon, Kunzman and Associates celebrated its 45th year of business in 2016 and is a five-time recipient of the SEMA Manufacturers’ Rep honors, along with PWA recognition. Company president Michael Kunzman accepted the award on behalf of his entire agency. Finalists also included Considine Sales and Marketing and R&R Marketing Consultants.

WD of the Year: Turn 14 Distribution Inc.

And the Honors Go To
WD of the Year, Turn 14 Distribution Inc.

Simply put, a warehouse distributor has to make parts move, and doing that in new and efficient ways can be a challenge in an increasingly competitive market. Customers and manufacturers demand fast turnaround, especially now that ever more efficient logistics and supply models reshape the marketplace.

From its state-of-the-art facilities, Turn 14 Distribution oversees a unique national parts-distributor’s website that gives businesses inventory in real time. The company also has added something pretty unusual in the business: connecting its manufacturers directly to customers to talk about products. Accepting the award for Turn 14 was Co-Founder Chris Candido. Finalists for the award included Keystone Automotive and Motor State Distributing.

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GEN-III Innovator Award: Jonathan Mill, Keyway Innovations.

GEN-III Innovator Award: Jonathan Mill, Keyway Innovations

The GEN-III Innovator Award recognizes professionals under 40 who demonstrate creative, game-changing ways of doing business or produce novel products or services that launch new trends.

The 2016 award went to Jonathan Mill of Keyway Innovations, a patent-holding inventor who is no stranger to industry recognition.

In 2013, the SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) named him its first Launch Pad winner for his E-Stopp pushbutton emergency brake system and antitheft device. Further awards from SEMA and the National Street Rod Association soon followed, along with a place on the annual SEMA News “35 Under 35” list of young up-and-comers.

Mill currently serves on the YEN select committee and is on the front lines speaking to school kids and town halls about cars and the aftermarket.

SEMA Hall of Fame Inductees

Officially inducted at the Leaders and Legends industry celebration in July, SEMA’s 2016 Hall of Famers were welcomed to the stage anew at the Industry Awards Banquet, where Combs and Pittsenbarger again congratulated them on their achievements.

And the Honors Go To And the Honors Go To And the Honors Go To

Gary Hooker

The night’s first welcome went to Gary Hooker, who is the true definition of a garage-built innovator.

As a young gearhead and entrepreneur, he understood what enthusiasts wanted and manufactured those products even before he had an actual shop. Today his company is an industry icon.

Matt Agosta

Agosta has been praised for his tireless work on behalf of the industry, constantly giving back to a business segment for which he is passionate. As an instrumental volunteer within SEMA and the Automotive Restoration Market Organization, he has been a hero and a champion of many pivotal issues affecting the aftermarket, including legislation and education.

Chip Foose

Through television shows, charitable efforts and his company, Foose Design, Chip Foose has managed to inspire generation after generation of builders, designers and customizers. Recognized worldwide, he has come to represent this industry’s automotive dreamers, proving again and again that any vehicle can be built, no matter how radical the idea behind it.

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