Expo-nential Growth

Sep 1, 2010

After a rough 2009, the auto industry has been making its way back to where the aftermarket has begun its own rebound. Though there are fewer new car brands among us (Plymouth, Saturn, Pontiac, Mercury – and we nearly lost Saab and Volvo), many of the newer models for 2010 and, now, 2011, have given aftermarket kit makers some things to cheer about – and build products for.

Which brings us closer to the end of the year and SEMA’s show, running Nov. 2-5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Whereas 2009 had hope tempered with cautious optimism, with the operative word being “cautious,” 2010 is shaping up with real hope and optimism. Sure, the rebound is moving slower than hoped, but even the automakers planned for growth with increased production during this third quarter, to the tune of 23% above last year. And we can only hope that with November elections nearing, politicians will want to make themselves look better by doing more to stimulate the economy – and ’tis the season for new-vehicle-year models to roll themselves out to a public waiting for just a little more excitement; and nothing moves the economy like new-car sales.

That’s why this year’s show should have a good feel to it.

More than 1,540 automotive aftermarket-focused companies, including, of course, Restyling magazine, will claim their spots along the aisles and other important spaces at this year’s expo. Most are old friends you’ve seen year after year. There also will be a couple of hundred new exhibitors, as well as some who had taken time off last year and have opted to return. That’s got to be an especially positive sign that the business mood is upbeat.

To-do list

So much going on, so much to do. Though all can’t be covered here, here are some items of especial interest for restylers.

Our own PRO Council again has a smart (and fun) lineup of events. PRO Chairman Karl Stearns says that Novemberfest will be held at the Las Vegas Hilton, Tuesday Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m.

“This is our 2nd annual Novemberfest,” Stearns says. “It will feature a theme menu, drinks and commemorative T-shirts sponsored by Eagle Enterprises. We will have a live DJ – ‘DJ D’ from Phoenix.

“In addition, our industry awards will be presented: Restyler of the Year, Manufacturer of the Year [sponsored by Restyling magazine], Nat Danas Person of the Year Award and the Jim Borre Lifetime Achievement Award. Our guest of honor will be Lisbeth Borre, widow of Jim Borre. All industry members are welcome. You do not have to be a member of PRO to attend.”

The PRO General Membership meeting takes place 7:30 Thursday morning, Nov. 4 (location to be announced – check restyling.com’s site frequently for updates). All restyling industry members are invited to attend; you needn’t be a member of PRO. “In fact, we welcome visitors who would like to know more about PRO,” Stearns adds.

“If you want to know about PRO membership, or our upcoming Technical Skills and Training Conferences (TSTC), stop by the booth for more information,” Stearns reminds.

PRO’s booth, No. 12159, will be in the North Hall in the Restyling & Car Care Accessories section of the show.

More for restylers: Though products of special interest abound in practically every aisle in every hall, many are concentrated in the Restyling & Car Care Accessories area of the North Hall. A lot of your – and our – friends who you see in Restyling and on our website have taken up showtime residence here. Mobile electronics are neighbors there, too. When you go looking for us, you’ll find Restyling sharing space with our cousin, Performance Business magazine, in the Racing & Performance area of the big Central Hall, Booth No. 20959 (listed as “National Business Media” in the show directory) – we’re on an end corner.

Even more to do, see

Looking for trucks, SUVs and offroad vehicles? Truck on up to the South Hall’s Upper Level. And, again, lots of those who you see and read about in Restyling are located there. You’ll also be able to visit the Green Performance Zone area to see the future today.

“The Green Performance Zone (GPZ) will showcase those companies whose creativity and innovation in the development, deployment and marketing of next-generation performance technologies prove that horsepower and green can coexist without sacrificing performance or the cool factor,” SEMA’s program information notes. The Green Performance Zone is in South Hall’s upper area.

And for pickup-focused folks, there’s the LTAA (Light Truck Accessory Alliance); stop by the alliance’s booth, No. 36095, in South Hall’s Upper Level.

The show’s New Products section again showcases scores of aftermarket merchandise of interest. The association even holds a judging of products for such award accolades as Best Engineered New Product, Best New Merchandising Display and Best New Packaging Design. This year, new award categories are Best New Tire and Related Product, and Best New Wheel and Related Product.

Innovation? The Vehicle Manufacturer of the Show program highlights the “top trendsetting vehicles -¦ [that] will determine the hottest cars and trucks in three categories: car, truck and 4×4,” notes the association.

“The SEMA Show is a reflection of the industry, and that’s largely a result of our exhibitors’ unique ability to identify and create trends,” says Bill Wolf, the association’s senior director of OEM relations. “We recognize that exhibitors invest a great deal into developing a SEMA Show plan. We know this isn’t a casual decision. The choice to display a booth vehicle is a statement about which vehicles represent the hottest trends and customization opportunities for car and truck enthusiasts.”

Show personnel “survey every booth vehicle.” That means more than 700 qualified vehicles could be on display. “Modifications range from products that improve performance, safety and convenience, to those that enhance appearance and comfort.”

So much to do and see. In fact, read the accompanying article, “One for the money, two for the show,” to get insights on how best to “walk” the show and get the most out it for you and your business.

Muscle cars always attract attention.

Outside the show halls are the proving grounds and driving school exhibits. Photo from SEMA.

Where’s Restyling?

Restyling magazine returns again for its annual place at the show. We’re in the Central Hall in the Racing & Performance area, sharing space with our cousin magazine, Performance Business. On the map, we’re Booth No. 20959 (but listed as “National Business Media” in the show directory) – we’re on an end corner.

Stop by and see what we’ve got going on new this year.