DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2014) — The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has snagged a $300,000 federal grant to support the trade association's efforts to help its members expand their export sales.
The grant, which is being handled by the Market Development Cooperator Program within the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA), will assist SEMA's efforts to help its 6,800-plus member companies.
Among the activities planned are a fact-finding and sales mission to Russia, working with government officials to seek pro-industry regulations that allow U.S. products equal market access and organizing overseas vehicle measuring sessions in key emerging markets, SEMA said.
“As a global trade association, SEMA seeks to help member companies grow and expand their businesses,” said Linda Spencer, international and government relations director at SEMA.
“One of the many ways SEMA helps its members grow is through exporting. For many of our members, exporting products to key international markets is integral to their success, and SEMA is available to help identify strategic markets and guide members along the way.”
One effort already under way is something called SEMA Measuring Sessions, which give member companies the opportunity to study and measure vehicles in order to develop quality products and accessories consumers can use to personalize and customize their cars, trucks and SUVs.
For the program's initial phase, SEMA imported a Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger T6 and Mitsubishi L200 pickup trucks and a UAZ Hunter SUV, none of which is sold in the U.S. but have strong followings in Europe, Australia, the Middle East, China and South America, the trade group said.
The $300,000 grant will enable SEMA to expand the measuring program overseas, thus augmenting the program SEMA started three years of importing non-U.S. vehicles to the SEMA Garage at its Southern California headquarters under special exemption.
The value of U.S. automotive parts exports hit were valued by the U.S. Department of Commerce at $77.5 billion last year, up 3.4 percent over 2012. Roughly three-fourths of exports go to Canada and Mexico; China was No. 3 on the list, representing about 3 percent of exports, the Commerce data show.
SEMA said its export initiatives include assisting U.S. companies identify strategic markets and guide members' efforts to develop products for export. Among the specifics are international research to identify developing markets, working with international officials on legislative issues, creating venues for SEMA members to connect with international buyers, and organizing trade missions to key countries throughout the year.
Since the typical SEMA-member company has a relatively small staff and modest budget compared with larger firms, SEMA said companies interested in exporting should view the association's export programs and services serve as an extension to their staffs and fill a vital void by providing needed global expansion resources.
Since September 2011, SEMA said, nearly 300 U.S. companies have traveled to China and/or the Middle East with SEMA and/or have used SEMA's Measuring Sessions to create export-ready products.