By Ellen McKoy
SEMA Scholarship Committee:
Supporting Industry Leaders of Tomorrow
In 1984, SEMA and a group of industry leaders teamed to establish the nonprofit SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, whose purpose was to nurture industry leadership by supporting the educational pursuits of future automotive professionals attending an accredited college. The fund initially struggled to gain momentum, but thanks to its first major donation of $10,000, contributed by industry pioneer and SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Joan Weiand of Weiand Automotive, the fund quickly picked up steam.
Under the stewardship of the SEMA Scholarship Committee and SEMA staff, the fund has expanded its outreach to include a broad swath of applicants, from high-school seniors and part-time students to those enrolled in community colleges, technical schools and graduate studies. Just as significantly, the fund has substantially increased its resources. This year alone, scholarships to current students and loan-forgiveness awards to employees of SEMA-member companies totaled nearly $300,000.
The SEMA Scholarship Committee is comprised of five members plus the immediate past chair. Their mission: to activate the next-generation automotive workforce by providing financial support and career resources to students pursuing careers in automotive fields.
Kim Pendergast, CEO of Magnuson Superchargers, is the newly appointed chair, replacing Laurel Dasher, now immediate past chair. Cary Redman, national sales manager at Edelbrock, and Mike Malloy, divisional purchasing manager for Turn 14 Distribution, are also newcomers.
SEMA News recently reached out to Pendergast and Malloy, who have unique backgrounds and perspectives.
Pendergast, a self-described serial entrepreneur and a believer in value-based leadership, has held key positions in financing and strategy at top corporations, owned several companies, including one in the aftermarket, and acquired Magnuson in 2010.
Malloy’s career took a different trajectory. After graduating from Drexel University with a degree in information technology and marketing, he worked in IT for a consulting firm. But he soon left to pursue an automotive career that has included key sales and purchasing positions. Along the way, he had the good fortune to receive a SEMA loan-forgiveness award.
To gain an understanding of how they see their roles as committee members, we asked them to tell us about their backgrounds, what motivated or inspired their committee participation, why it’s important to continue the good work already in place, and what they hope to accomplish. Here’s what they had to say:
Kim Pendergast, a self-described serial entrepreneur, is CEO of Magnuson Performance and the newly appointed chair of the SEMA Scholarship Committee.
Kim Pendergast: Building Blocks for the Future
“The way to describe me is a serial entrepreneur,” said Pendergast. Magnuson is my seventh company. I’ve done everything from the book business to logistics, but the last two companies have been in the automotive aftermarket, and I’ve decided that this is where I’ll stay.
“Foundationally, I’ve also been exposed to a lot of trade organizations, and SEMA is far and away the best trade organization I have ever been associated with—it’s the real deal. SEMA does more for its members in very strategic ways than I think many realize. So I have a lot of energy to give to SEMA in whatever capacity I am needed.
“From where I stand, we face three key issues: our next generation’s relationship with vehicles, managing our relationship with the OEMs, and government and political apathy toward our industry. All three issues are driven by the next generation’s relationship to their vehicles. Electric cars, self-driving cars and shared-vehicle usage all come into play, whether they care about gas engines or what kind of accessories they’ll want. We can let that play out, or we can help shape the future.
“The scholarship program gives SEMA an opportunity to touch a lot of young people and help make it easier for them to study and prepare to join our industry. For me, it’s an opportunity to invest in some young people who are interested in the industry, help them get into the industry and then activate that so that we start to get some momentum with that generation.
“Going forward, I’d like to see what I call activation, the emotional connectedness of this group to each other and to our industry. Is there a way to keep the momentum going with these students and create a strong emotional attachment between scholarship recipients and SEMA?
“I have inherited an excellent, well-thought-out and well-organized program that has legs, and I thank Laurel and her committee—Rose Kawasaki, Nate Shelton, Myles Kovacs, Julia Johnson and Steve Gibson—for handing us such a great program and for their continued support. I look forward to working with our current committee and hope we can continue the momentum Laurel’s team created.”
A newcomer to the scholarship committee, Mike Malloy is the divisional purchasing manager for Turn 14 Distribution and a prior recipient of a SEMA Loan-Forgiveness Award.
Mike Malloy: Paying It Forward
“I’m a performance guy,” said Malloy. “I’ve been in the industry since 2003. I joined Turn 14 four years ago and got to transition from sales to purchasing
“My first job was regional sales manager for B&M Racing. Jim Cozzie was my boss, and although I’m a car guy, I got to learn a lot working with him. After B&M was bought out by private equity, I had the option to move to California, but it wasn’t the right time. I wanted to stay in the Philadelphia area.
“I had much to learn, so I went to work for Rep Force in Pennsylvania and became a manufacturers’ rep. Then Mr. Gasket offered me the national sales manager role, and I went for it. My goal was to become very well rounded and learn a lot about how things work in this industry. I got to solve problems, figure out challenges and find the best solutions. It was a great education.
“I’ve been friends with Jim Cozzie and Laurel Dasher my whole career, as well as with others who are very involved in the SEMA organization. But until now, I never jumped in and volunteered, because I wanted to do something I really believe in. SEMA does so much good work, so I felt I could get involved in the scholarship committee and make a difference.
“I’m a city kid. I grew up in a lower-class neighborhood, so I understand that people sometimes need some help. Think about how long it takes to earn $3,000—especially early in a career. I love this industry, so why not help people get into the industry or reward people working in the industry with a little bit of help?
“Living in the city, I see a lot of schools with automotive programs. Those kids are passionate about automotive hot-rod stuff. They have no idea what the SEMA Show is or what our industry is, but they would probably love to work in our industry. So I think about how we can try to open doors, bring people together and introduce those students to our industry.
“I’m really excited to be involved in the SEMA world. It’s something I really believe in. About three years after I started working in the industry, I received a loan-forgiveness award. It was awesome, and it made a difference. It’s not like we’re trying to give 20 grand to a hundred people. There’s a real budget, it’s substantial, and we can impact a lot people with it.”
Apply Now for 2019 Scholarship Awards
Want to apply for a SEMA scholarship or loan forgiveness award? Know someone who may be eligible? Online applications for next year’s awards will be accepted November 1, 2018, through March 1, 2019, at www.sema.org/scholarships. For questions or additional information, contact SEMA Student Programs Manager Juliet Marshall at 909-978-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.