SEMA Inducts Four Industry Icons into Hall of Fame

DIAMOND BAR, CA (05.20.2020) – Rich Barsamian, Jack Chisenhall, John Gaines, and Joe St.Lawrence will receive the specialty-equipment industry’s highest honor as the newest members of the SEMA Hall of Fame. The four are the latest representatives of an esteemed group of industry icons who have influenced and inspired the $44.6 billion automotive specialty-equipment industry.

Rich Barsamian has been actively volunteering and helping to improve our industry since he joined the Young Executives Network (YEN) in 1995. He has helped bring many educational programs to SEMA members and worked tirelessly as an ambassador to help other SEMA members. Over the years he has earned numerous recognitions for his continued work in our industry, including SEMA Person of the Year in 2014, and exemplifies the SEMA Hall of Fame criteria with regard to professionalism, dignity, integrity, stature and growth of the industry.

Jack Chisenhall is credited with making climate control systems accessible by founding the San Antonio company Vintage Air, and also helped create what is now the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA), among other innovations and contributions. His work made enthusiast cars more comfortable, easier to drive and that meant more miles logged behind the wheel, more money spent on modifications and more time on the road wrenching, driving, building and enjoying these cars. It was a cultural shift and a game changer.

John Gaines was an early pioneer in the automotive aftermarket warehouse distribution. His company, G&M Performance Parts was one of the first warehouse distributors in the country for the automotive aftermarket, and his distributorship was one of the first in the country to utilize a fleet of vehicles to distribute product direct to the local speed shops, truck accessory stores, car dealerships, machine shops, creating a much quicker and more streamlined process from manufacturer to end user. Gaines is credited with forward thinking early on that helped many manufacturers grow to where they are today.

Joe St.Lawrence started RTM, the industry’s first production company for auto how-to shows in the mid-1980s. He created PowerBlock, television’s first two-hour auto theme-block featuring how-to shows that introduced SEMA member products to million of viewers. His shows sparked parts buying on Monday, and gave DYIers the confidence to bolt on aftermarket parts and customize their vehicles. He introduced broad audiences to cool cars and helped change the image of the backyard mechanic into a tool-wielding expert.

For additional information about the SEMA Hall of Fame, visit

SEMA Updates Aftermarket Industry with COVID-19 Information Resources

DIAMOND BAR, CA (04.13.2020) – The health and welfare of the industry is a top priority to SEMA, so the association has taken a proactive approach to supporting SEMA members and is working with lawmakers to ensure they are educated and informed about the auto and auto parts industry and how it’s affected by COVID-19.

While some of SEMA’s more immediate events have been cancelled or postponed, the 2020 SEMA Show is set to take place as scheduled on Nov. 3-6. As the situation continues to evolve, we will monitor the landscape closely and will make decisions based on guidance from local, state, national and international health officials.

COVID-19 Resources Page
The Specialty Equipment Market Association is monitoring the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and tracking what this means for our industry. For the latest updates and resources available, click here.

Pitching In
The SEMA Garage is assisting Stratasys by providing 3D printed visors, which will attach to face shields and assist those who are working in healthcare facilities. Details here.

Status Report
Champion Oil, Impact Racing, and Racecar Engineering are among the aftermarket manufacturers that remain fully operational during the COVID-19 outbreak. Details on how other companies have been affected here.

HR Hub
Human Resources professionals can discover the latest HR news related to the Coronavirus at the SEMA HR Hub. The online resource helps industry professionals stay up-to-date on the latest policies and information on employee matters. Details here.

Data is Key
As online shopping surges due to the current economic climate, the SEMA Data Co-op is showing companies how enhanced product data can be a key component in weathering the storm. Details here.

Seeking Young Entrepreneurs
The SEMA Young Executives Network is accepting applications for the 2020 SEMA Launch Pad Program, which encourages and supports young entrepreneurs in the automotive industry. Details here.

A New Perspective
Independent retailers in the automotive aftermarket remain the most used sales channel for getting parts to consumers, according to the new SEMA Industry Perspectives Report. Details here.

New Products
SEMA Data Co-op members Holley, Klein, and CURT have released new products. See them here.

• June 24-26: SEMA Show Exhibitor Summit, Las Vegas, Nev.
• July 24: SEMA Installation Gala, Newport Beach, Calif.
• Nov. 3-6: SEMA Show, Las Vegas, Nev.

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Automotive Industry Groups Seek National Approach for Defining “Essential” Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 1, 2020) — The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), in partnership with eight other automotive trade associations, urged the National Governors Association and Governors of all 50 states to standardize the definition of essential businesses and workers. The groups recommend adoption of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) March 28 directive, “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response,” which identifies essential workers and business operations throughout the economy. DHS guidance clarifies that automotive repair, maintenance, and transportation equipment manufacturing and distribution facilities are “essential services” that are critical to ensuring the safe and ongoing operations of our nation’s transportation and logistics sector.

The organizations sending the letter represent companies that manufacture parts and supply services to help maintain the nation’s fleet of public and private vehicles during COVID-19—from cars, trucks and buses to police and emergency vehicles. The letter notes that Governors and local authorities have been making difficult decisions balancing “essential” commercial activities with “Shelter in Place” directives. It is important that states adopt the DHS Guidance, which provides a uniform national approach for protecting the country’s critical transportation and manufacturing needs.

Click here to view a PDF copy of the letter.

The letter was signed by the Auto Care Association, Automotive Oil Change Association, Automotive Service Association, California Automotive Business Coalition, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, Specialty Equipment Market Association, Tire Industry Association, Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades, U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.

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SEMA Student UTV Build Tours Off-Road Events

DIAMOND BAR, CA (03.04.2020) – The UTV Student Build Pilot Program, a program launched by the SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) to connect young aftermarket professionals with aspiring automotive students, will showcase the completed 2019 Honda Talon in a multi-city tour before being auctioned off at the world’s largest collector car auction, the Mecum Auction, in November. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards benefiting the SEMA Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.

Sponsored by YEN, the customized Talon was completed by students from the Alex Xydias Center for Automotive Arts (AXC), who throughout the course of the semester worked alongside industry mentors to produce a one-of-a-kind UTV using products donated from 16 SEMA member companies. Skills learned include project management, 3-D scanning, CAD, manufacturing, installation, fabrication, suspension, body styling, wiring, and testing.

The SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) UTV Student Build Pilot Program will showcase the completed 2019 Honda Talon in several cities before being auctioned off at the Mecum Auction to benefit the SEMA Scholarship Fund.

“The purpose of the build was to inspire youth to become automotive hobbyists and to encourage career paths into the automotive aftermarket,” said Kirstin Stone, Chairman of the SEMA Young Executives Network. “This UTV build allowed YEN members to introduce the greater scope of the opportunities available in the aftermarket while encouraging trade skills.”

After weeks of mentorship and instruction from YEN members, the students’ labor culminated in a unique build that was displayed at the 2019 SEMA Show. The UTV will now tour at various off-road events throughout 2020, which includes The Mint 400 in Las Vegas, L.A. County Fair in Los Angeles, and the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, CA.

“SEMA is invested in the future of the automotive industry and is proud to support a program that has offered students a wide variety of professional development and training opportunities,” said Zane Clark, SEMA Director of Education. “With the proceeds being invested into the SEMA Scholarship Program, we can continue to help automotive students pay for their college tuition and SEMA members pay off their student loans.”

For more information on the UTV Student Build, visit To donate to the SEMA Scholarship Fund, visit

2020 SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns Competition Kicks Off During Spring Break

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TX (02.27.2020) – The SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns Regional Competition makes its 2020 debut at the Heat Wave Spring Break Jam, March 7-8, in South Padre Island, Texas.

Now in its fourth year, the SEMA Young Guns competition is open to anyone ages 27 or younger (as of Nov. 6, 2020) who builds their vehicle primarily on their own. Interested builders are encouraged to register immediately for the opportunity to compete among their peers at the Spring Break Jam event.

The 2020 SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns Regional Competition, for builders ages 27 years or younger will kick off at the Heat Wave Spring Break Jam, March 7-8, in South Padre Island, Texas.

Applications to participate must be submitted online at SEMA will then select 10 vehicles from the pool of submissions and reach out directly to the builders prior to the event to notify them of acceptance.

A panel of professional judges will choose one winner during the two-day event who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the 2020 SEMA Show in Las Vegas (Nov. 3-6, 2020), transportation of the winner’s vehicle, a designated feature spot at the SEMA Show and entry into the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition. The second- and third-place runner-up vehicles will still have the opportunity to be invited to the SEMA Show at the conclusion of the regional qualifier events in a nationwide fan vote.

For more information on the SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns Competition and to submit an application for an opportunity to be chosen to compete at a regional qualifying event, visit

For more information on the Spring Break Jam, visit and follow Heat Wave on Facebook and Instagram @heatwavetour.

SEMA Welcomes Jeff Dahlin as Sales Director

DIAMOND BAR, CA (02.24.2020) – The Specialty Equipment Market Association has hired Jeff Dahlin as an industry sales director to help oversee a portfolio of client accounts and create partnerships for the SEMA Show, Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show, and their accompanying monthly publications and media channels. Staff member Brendan Gillespie was promoted to industry sales manager and Reham Gharib to the newly created position of sales operations project manager.

“The sales team is focused on helping SEMA and PRI increase engagement with the industry,” said Warren Kosikov, SEMA vice president of sales. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to bring in an experienced industry veteran such as Jeff Dahlin to join our team, and to be able to shift our existing staff into roles that will enable us to continue to service the industry.”

Jeff Dahlin as Sales Director

Dahlin brings with him 20 years of automotive sales, marketing, and executive-level publishing experience, including 16 years at Source Interlink and the MotorTrend Group, where he rose through the ranks at several publications as a director, group publisher, and eventually general manager of the Hot Rod Network.

In addition to an impressive track record that includes being named one of SEMA’s Top 35 Under 35 in 2007, Dahlin is a passionate automotive enthusiast who spends time working on classic and muscle car projects while getting in as much off-roading as possible. He received his B.S. in Communication and Media Studies from Northern Arizona University and an M.A. in Communication and Media Studies from California State University, Long Beach.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association has hired Jeff Dahlin as an industry sales director. His hiring accompanies a promotion for Brendan Gillespie (L) to industry sales manager and Reham Gharib (R) to sales operations project manager.

“I jumped at the opportunity to work for PRI and SEMA, as I’ve worked with so many of the employees in the past and have always respected the passion and assistance provided to our automotive industry,” said Dahlin, who will be based out of PRI’s Aliso Viejo, Calif., office. “To be able to contribute to an organization that does so much great work is an honor for me, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do so.”

In addition to the hiring of Dahlin, Industry Sales Manager Brendan Gillespie, who previously served in a sales/operations hybrid role, will now focus strictly on sales opportunities—specifically exhibit space and sponsorship sales for both the SEMA and PRI Shows, as well as advertising sales for both SEMA News and PRI Magazine. Gillespie, a six-year veteran of the company, will concentrate on the racing and performance market.

Also, Reham Gharib will take on the new position of sales operations project manager. In this role, she will manage the records of all SEMA and PRI sponsorship contracts, help ensure deliverables are accounted for, and communicate with all appropriate stakeholders. She also will be the key stakeholder and project manager for the SEMA Show’s New Products Showcase and PRI Show’s Featured Product Showcase. Gharib has been with the company since 2014.

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SEMA Market Research: Retailers Adapt to a Changing Landscape

DIAMOND BAR, CA (12.09.2019) – Last year, nearly one-third of specialty-automotive parts sales were made online. And 79% of specialty-automotive retailers expect online sales growth to have a significant impact on the industry over the next few years. This growth is driven by changing consumer behavior. Customers now have more outlets to research specs, compare brands and purchase products than ever before.

As a result, many retailers are adapting to a customer base that is more informed about brands and products, more aware of price differences and may be less loyal to any retailer. Nearly two-thirds of retailers have added or grown their social-media presence to reach more customers effectively. And 59% find that providing advice and expertise offers a way to stand out in the market rather than competing on price.

To learn more about the key challenges and opportunities specialty-automotive retailers are facing, download the “SEMA Retail Landscape Report,” now available for free at