This year’s SEMA show is here, and that means all kinds of over-the-top custom cars and special edition performance models will be making their debuts. However, it isn’t just about crazy builds; it’s still a trade show, and that means there is plenty to look at for anyone involved in the auto industry.
What is SEMA?
SEMA began in 1963 as the “Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association,” bringing together performance part manufacturers to help promote vehicle customization and motorsports participation. Eventually, it came to encompass the entire aftermarket parts sector, including distributors, resellers, and repair shops. Now called the “Special Equipment Marketers Association,” it’s the leading organization for a business representing over $30 billion in sales.
SEMA has several functions: it lobbies on behalf of members in Washington, provides research data on sales trends and offers education programs to improve business practices. There are also councils inside the organization that deal with specific market segments like the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and Street Performance Compact Council (SPC).
What is the SEMA Show?
This event was originally held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but expansion has split it into two shows: the original SEMA show is still at the center, while the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo at the Sands Expo Center. Officially called the “Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week” it’s still functionally one show requiring one ticket.
The event is first and foremost a trade show: only the press, parts buyers and members of the organization are allowed inside, although there are a few events that are open to the public. Businesses involved in every aspect of car culture can be found at the show from start-ups to big name auto manufacturers who make, install or sell anything from stock replacement parts to race equipment, RV accessories to lightweight components and off-road to show car parts.
What’s at SEMA Show?
The show’s primary purpose is to connect buyers and sellers. Thousands of new products debut each year, giving businesses their first look at what they’ll be selling and installing for their customers. Customizing shops, automakers and parts producers compete for attention from prospective customers with wild concept vehicles. Thankfully, this part of the show is open to the public during the cruise and car show at the end of the show week.
The show also brings in a range of experts and celebrities from the customization world who do panels, show off their latest creations and greet their fans. There are also panels focusing on the business covering new technologies, sales information and management practices.
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