DIAMOND BAR, Calif.The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has named the owner of a 6-year-old tire and wheel retail business in Michigan as one of its SEMA News 35 Under 35 trendsetters.
Adam Stevens, 33, founded A2i Wheel & Tire in Holt, Mich., in 2009initially starting the business in his garage with the aim to deliver hard-to-find products, according to SEMA. A2i stands for Automotive 2 Internet.
By last year the single-man operation had grown into a company of seven employees generating nearly $2 million in sales and earning an Economic Bright Spot award from Michigan's Corp! magazine.
When I first arrived in the wheel industry, I had no clue what I was getting myself into, Mr. Stevens told SEMA News, the Diamond Bar-based trade group's publication.
He credits Chad Blood, formerly of Wheel Pros Inc.'s American Racing unit, for the inspiration to pursue an aftermarket career. Chad first hired me at American Racing and gave me the chance to learn wheels, tires and all the other products out there.
Mr. Stevens said the Internet has become a huge part of the automotive industry.
We find many of our products online, and we sell a lot of products online, he said. One of the most important trends in wheels and tires would have to be the explosion of truck wheels. Everyone wants that off-road look with on-road performance. Customization and new products have always been desirable and will remain an ever-changing aspect of the industry.
In order to land on SEMA News' 35 Under 35 list, honorees had to be nominated by one or more industry peers. SEMA News said it looks for candidates who are making an impact through their leadership within their organization or business. Entrepreneurship, commitment, insight, innovation, integrity, responsibility, demon-strated skill, involvement and success within the marketplace weigh heavily in the selection process.
Also on the list is Aston Liyanarchi, 32, director of product development at SB Wheel Manufacturing in Dade City, Fla.
As head of design at SB Wheel, Mr. Liyanarchi designs and develops products that will help bring production of wheels back to the U.S., SEMA News said. During his career, he has designed more than 700 different wheels.
The wheel industry is continuously changing, much like fashion or music trends, he told the association's magazine. Consumers push the limits with ever-changing personal tastes, and wheel designs, diameters, widths, offsets and fitments are becoming more aggressive.
As a manufacturer, we are continually pushing the envelope of design and production. We have to create wheels that are lighter and stronger while using innovative designs and advanced materials so that our products stand out.
(For a list of the others named to SEMA's 35 under 35, visit www.tirebusiness.com)