It’s time to get movin’

Dec 3, 2009

What has 50,000 legs, 25,000 heads and comes from all over the world?

Answer: Buyers, who last November at SEMA’s annual Las Vegas exposition said they wanted to know about restyling and car care accessories.

That should have made many of those 300-plus exhibitors offering such aftermarket restyling accessories very happy-especially because the looky-loos from earlier shows were conspicuously absent and true automotive professionals were there and on their game. SEMA’s 2008 show drew 50,000 buyers.

Running this year from Tuesday, Nov.3 – Friday, Nov. 6, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, the expo could prove seminal for exhibitors and attendees alike as the rapid-fire changes in the auto industry will bring changes, too, to the aftermarket accessories world.

With the economy in general and the automotive market in particular hit hard and fast by the forces of recession, and with signs that the nadir has been reached and both the auto industry and economy are movin’ on up, this SEMA Show might be, historically, one of the most important to restylers. So, as tight as a shop owner’s purse strings might be, a trip to this expo might be too important to pass up.

Gotta go, gotta see

While you might want to walk the whole show (wear your most comfortable footwear), the North Hall of the exposition houses many of the exhibits restylers will want to make a point to visit: the Restyling & Car Care Accessories. Plus, restylers may want to pay attention to the neighboring Mobile Electronics and Technology area in the hall, as this is a growing part of the aftermarket accessories market for restylers. Restyling magazine, of course, continues its expanding coverage of this area (for example, see “Getting from Here to There,” page 24 of the July issue for just one such featured article, plus “Seasonal Adjustments” on page 16 of this issue).

Fact is, the SEMA folks have put in extra effort to attract more restylers. That could translate to more exhibitors showing more restyler-oriented products. It could even mean that those restylers who come to the show will get the first looks at what’s new – and get a jump on the competition.

Of course, popular halls, such as Tires & Wheels and Racing & Performance, offer a look at what’s adding both form and function where the rubber meets the road and the power performs under the hood. Likely, many restylers will want to wander the Trucks, SUVs & Off-Road area, as well. There are 12 separate category areas, throughout the 2 million sq. ft. of exhibits.

Returning this year is the Making Green Cool Zone (MGCZ) to, as SEMA reports, “showcase those companies whose creativity and innovation in the deployment and marketing of the green technologies prove that being environmentally friendly can still be cool.”

To be considered for the Green Zone “vehicles and products must be aligned with one or more of [these] categories: High-Performance and Green Mobility; Current Powertrain Solutions; Future Powertrain Solutions; Vehicle Energy Management; Mobile Electronics for Green Mobility, Green Wheels, Tires and Suspensions; Fast Tracking 35 MPG; and/or Making Green Cool.”

Learn something new

A complete educational track that begins one day before the exhibit hall opens, Monday, Nov. 2, and runs through Thursday, Nov. 5, in the North Hall meeting rooms, is designed to “provide attendees with exclusive insights and educational tools to survive this tough economy and thrive when it recovers,” SEMA notes. Eight education tracks comprise the Show Education Days: Technology Briefing Super Sessions; Business Efficiency 101; Customer Service & Sales Solutions; Industry Trends & Forecasts; Legal & Public Policy; Marketing; Online Marketing; and Small Biz Management.

In these seminars you can learn about OEM aftermarket collaboration, integrating automotive and consumer electronics, boosting your profits with a proven sales system, marketing to Generation Y customers, even your employees’ privacy rights.

What else?

If you attend the SEMA Industry Awards Banquet on Thursday, Nov. 5, comedian Bill Engvall will entertain you. Attendees can applaud both the new SEMA Hall of Fame members and winners of industry awards.

“One of the unique characteristics about the SEMA industry is that it is made up of an amazing group of professionals, many of whom have a deep-seeded passion for the automotive industry,” says Peter MacGillivray, SEMA vice president of events and communications. “The SEMA Industry Awards Banquet is a special time to gather and pay tribute to those who have made an immense impact and contributed to the industry.”

And where else might you get up close to so many project cars designed especially to show off the technical expertise and creativity of builders, tuners, restylers and designers? You’ll see a host of project cars on display – some where the last bolt was bolted or the final weld welded before the exhibit halls open their doors. You can get a preview of some of these planned vehicles in October’s Restyling.

To help benefit the Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Silent Auction continues to be a hit.  One-of-a-kind collectibles and memorabilia are donated by SEMA member companies and automotive industry partners. The scholarship fund benefits students and past students whose careers focus on the automotive aftermarket. Scholarships of $1,000-$4,000 are awarded to the best candidates.

Exhibitors, too, might host after-show-hours meet-and-greets. And, of course, beyond introducing their latest products, many offer show-only specials.

No doubt this aftermarket show always proves an important adjunct to the industry. This year, it could be more important than ever.

Restyling magazine at SEMA

Don’t forget to make a point to stop by Restyling‘s booth. We’ll be at Booth # 20957, in the Racing & Performance Hall, along with our friends at Performance Business magazine.

Plus, we’ll bring along two must-read issues of Restyling: One with many of the show’s Project Vehicles (they are too cool!); the other highlights loads of restyling products on display at the show (look especially for those brand-spanking-new ones!).

In addition, the editor at Restyling is ready to meet, greet and talk with you about making Restyling even more in tune with what pros like you need to know more about.

So, jot down that Booth # 20957, in the Racing & Performance Hall (we’re catty-corner to Keystone Automotive). Look for the familiar Restyling banners and signs. Pick up a free copy of either or both issues.

We’ll be glad to see you and hear what you have to say.