Silver State U.S. Senator Visits 2018 SEMA Show

SEMA News—January 2019


By Eric Snyder

Silver State U.S. Senator Visits 2018 SEMA Show

  Chris Kersting
From left: Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO; Todd Crutcher, Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club director of marketing; U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto; and Daniel Ingber, SEMA managing director of government and legal affairs.

The SEMA Show moved from Anaheim, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1977, long before the phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” was coined. Las Vegas was the perfect location, providing room for the show to expand, world-class entertainment, and an exciting destination. Today, more than 70,000 buyers and 2,400 exhibitors from all over the world participate in the SEMA Show. While the SEMA Show happens in Las Vegas, the long-term business relationships developed there extend far beyond the city limits. For Nevada exhibitors, the 2018 SEMA Show provided an opportunity to strengthen their voices in Washington, D.C., when U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) stopped by their booths to learn about their companies.

While it was Senator Cortez Masto’s first time at the SEMA Show, she was quite familiar with its distinguished reputation. As a Las Vegas native and the daughter of Manny Cortez, who headed up the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for more than 13 years, the senator appreciates the vital role that convention and trade shows like the SEMA Show play in driving Las Vegas’ economy.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Cortez Masto served as Nevada’s attorney general from 2007–2015 and previously worked as an assistant county manager for the state’s Clark County. Senator Cortez Masto also served as chief of staff to Nevada Governor Bob Miller and was a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Nevada in Reno and is a graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law.

Senator Cortez Masto is focused on growing the state’s economy by promoting innovation and small-business entrepreneurs. The senator introduced bipartisan legislation to create a Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development, which would oversee and provide structure to various federal programs designed to spur economic growth in rural communities.

SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Tray Smith
Tray SmithTray Smith is the vice president of H&H Classic Parts, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas. Smith joined the SEMA PAC President’s Club in 2018 and currently serves as select-committee chair for SEMA’s Automotive Restoration Market Organization.

“As a lifetime auto enthusiast and member of the aftermarket industry, I have seen firsthand what bad legislation can do if we do not speak up,” he said. “I have chosen to act during SEMA’s Washington Rally and by supporting our legislators through SEMA PAC. By supporting the PAC, I am setting an example for the industry on what you can do to make a difference when it comes to legislation and our regulatory process. By doing this, we will make it easier for the next group of enthusiasts and innovators that come into our industry.”

SEMA PAC helps members keep pace by supporting the candidates and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who understand the importance of what SEMA members do. For more information on SEMA PAC, contact Christian Robinson by phone at 202-794-8279 or by email at

Senator Cortez Masto’s visit to the SEMA Show provided her with a firsthand look at products ranging from dashboard covers to chassis and performance parts that are manufactured and distributed in the Silver State. During her visits to the booths of Nevada-based exhibitors, SEMA members told the senator about the issues that matter most to their businesses, including the protection of intellectual property, the regulation of aftermarket equipment, and legislation to protect the motorsports parts industry. The tour also provided exhibitors with a chance to underscore the adverse impact of tariffs on many SEMA members and the need to save the Bonneville Salt Flats, which are located only a few miles from the Nevada border.

“I thank the organizers of the SEMA Show for giving me an inside look at one of the most important trade conventions in Las Vegas,” Senator Cortez Masto said. “These conventions are perfect opportunities to highlight local small businesses in Nevada and throughout the country while also continuing to highlight Las Vegas as one of the premier convention destinations in America. The local businesses I met with continue to show why Nevada is the ‘Innovation State.’ I’ll continue to support these local small businesses and exhibitors that bring revenue into our communities and create good-paying jobs in Nevada.”

In addition to visiting the booths of many of the Nevada exhibitors, the Senator also made time to take a close-up look at some featured vehicles. One particularly unique Pontiac Firebird took Cortez Masto on a trip down memory lane, as she spoke nostalgically about her days driving a similar model.

“It was a pleasure to host Senator Cortez Masto at the SEMA Show and connect her with the companies she represents in Congress,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “SEMA appreciates the senator taking time to learn about the industry and see firsthand how SEMA members are driving the economy in Nevada and around the country.”

Catherine Cortez Masto   Catherine Cortez Masto
Catherine Cortez Masto   Catherine Cortez Masto
Catherine Cortez Masto
Senator Cortez Masto toured the 2018 SEMA Show, visiting the booths of Nevada-based exhibitors (clockwise from top left): Plastex Plastic Repair Kits, EBC Brakes USA Inc., Dashtop by Palco Industries Inc., Air-Zenith and Proforged.
  Catherine Cortez Masto
Senator Cortez Masto and Daniel Ingber (right) look at the custom interior of a Pontiac Firebird.
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