DIAMOND BAR, Calif.The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) expects 2015 to be the latest in a string of banner years for the automotive aftermarket, according to SEMA President Chris Kersting.
Consumers bought more than $33.4 billion in non-repair automotive parts and accessories in 2013, the latest year for which SEMA has data, according to Mr. Kersting. This figure was nearly 7 percent over 2012 and 19.7 percent over 2009, when the recession ended, he said.
We anticipate that the trend will continue, and we are hopeful for further growth in 2014, particularly given what we just saw at the recent SEMA Show, Mr. Kersting told Tire Business.
The annual trade show is a good indicator of the overall industry, he said. We saw great participation and energy at the 2014 SEMA Show and are expecting the industry to mirror that trend.
Figures for 2014 should be strong when they are released, and figures for 2015 should continue that trend, according to Mr. Kersting.
We're seeing the industry work smarter and looking at new ways of doing business, he said. When the economy was struggling, the industry had to re-evaluate. Many manufacturers began exporting as a way to sustain their businesses. Others focused on expanding their product lines and sought cross-marketing opportunities.
To help members expand their businesses, SEMA introduced the Product Development Center, better known as the SEMA Garage, Mr. Kersting said.
The facility caters to small manufacturing businesses, which is the core of the industry, he said. Through the SEMA Garage, SEMA members are able to utilize 3D scanners, 3D printers, the dyno and emissions lab, photo studios and more, all at member-discounted rates, he said. The end result is better-quality products produced faster and less expensively than ever before.
Participation in the 2014 SEMA Show was very strong, and feedback about the show has been very positive, according to Mr. Kersting.
Our goal is to deliver value to our participants and provide them with a venue where they can conduct and grow their businesses, he said. As our team gathers data from the formal post-show survey, we'll better understand what worked and where we might be able to improve.
SEMA also was pleased with the reception to the 2014 Global Tire Expo-Powered by TIA, according to Mr. Kersting.
Tires are a key segment of our industry, and we were pleased to see many key brands at the 2014 SEMA Show, including BFGoodrich and Hoosier. We were especially pleased to see tire manufacturers increase their level of engagement.
BFGoodrich was especially active in the SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience, a brand-new event, Mr. Kersting said.
We look forward to seeing this new show feature grow, and expect that it will provide greater opportunities for tire manufacturers.
SEMA has always considered education a major benefit it offers its members, according to Mr. Kersting.
Although it's been a gradual shift, we've begun to offer more focused (educational) tracks, he said.
By collaborating with such groups as TIA, SCRS and I-CAR at the SEMA Show, we are able to provide the industry with sessions that are more relevant and meaningful.
The SEMA Show Exhibitor Summit has been a SEMA fixture for the past several years, he said. Taking place in Las Vegas several months before the SEMA Show, the summit allows SEMA to give exhibitors quality service and help them get the greatest return on their investment, he said.
The Diamond Bar-based association also targets part of its education program on the next generation, Mr. Kersting said.
We have an initiative to identify and support aspiring leaders who will be able to help the industry grow.
Meanwhile, we continue to reach out in hopes of introducing high school and college students to careers in our industry through programs such as the SEMA Scholarship Foundation and our internship program.
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