5 Minutes with…Zane Clark

Nov 1, 2010

Restyling recently had a chance to ask Clark about his new role at SEMA.

RE: What’s involved with your job as a Council Director at SEMA?

Clark: I feel strongly that we promote what’s in the best interest of the industry as well as the members at large that we as an association represent. So what I take very seriously is that the councils and the industry segments they represent have a voice within SEMA.

In a nutshell, the goal of my job is to make sure the association is in touch with the members on the front line, so that we develop and promote services that are a benefit.

A typical day is not that typical. The day starts with a plan, then a phone call, teleconference or e-mail. Later, you find yourself working on something else. The job requires flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to assure that member expectations are in alignment with SEMA’s efforts.

RE: How do you do that, specifically, with the PRO Council?

Clark: The concept behind the councils department is to provide representation and direction to the different industry niches within the association to assure that they can address the issues they feel strongly about. Every council is unique and operates, more or less, as a mini association with elected volunteers that serve two-year terms.

PRO [the Professional Restylers Organization] is a very progressive council with strong leadership. They recently pulled off two first-time events with their [2009] NovemberFest awards reception and the [2010] Technical Skills and Training Conference (TSTC). In addition, they are actively involved in SEMA’s ProPledge quality assurance program that establishes parameters that improve dealership confidence when installing aftermarket accessories.

So, sometimes, if you have a train and it’s running downhill and they’re getting work done, the best thing you can do is get out of the way.

RE: What are the challenges to being a liaison to not just PRO, but other councils you work with at the association?

Clark: As a liaison, you’re the conduit between the council and  the association. Volunteers, by nature, are passionate and hands-on. The challenge then becomes how to best harness that energy and build consensus amongst the group.

The other aspect of director-council relationship is to assure that both sides are in alignment and working as partners. As with anything in life, if you commit to doing something, you better get it done. If you lose credibility with a council, the partnership will be jeopardized.

RE: You have a degree in philosophy and a minor in psychology. You also have an MBA in business and you’ve worked in the automotive industry since 1998. How does this background figure into what you do now?

Clark: My philosophy and psychology degree has afforded me a unique perspective on the dynamics of groups and related issues. The MBA just gives a broader perspective and appreciation for the challenges and opportunities that our member companies face.

But more important is my experience in the industry. The time spent in the dealer and restyling community had a tremendous impact on how I approach association business. It is important to remember my experiences and those connections within the industry when promoting or developing council initiatives. The automotive aftermarket can be a very rewarding, but an always challenging field and I have the utmost respect for those individuals and companies working to -¨sustain it.