SEMA boasts on its website that 2,500 companies exhibit in 5,500 booths, and that 70,000 buyers attend — only those credentialed as buyers and media can attend the four-day event.
Those numbers would seem to indicate that SEMA is, indeed, an industry heavyweight.
But is it? How important is the event?
Or is the show losing its luster?
Some argue that it's bigger, better and more relevant than ever before.
For those who haven't attended the event, the Global Tire Expo (GTE) — which features the vast majority of tire and tire-related exhibitors — is located on the ground floor of the South Hall. The Tire Industry Association (TIA) and SEMA team up, they say, to serve the "unique needs of the tire dealers and the tire business community," targeting all segments of the tire industry.
Traffic throughout the hall seemed to remain steady each of the show's first three days (visitors traditionally leave town on Friday).
This year, we at Tire Business doubled the size of our booth to accommodate our livestream events. The advertising and editorial departments of this publication hosted 10 half-hour livestreams over a three-day period. They are available to view at tirebusiness.com/SEMAlive.
Visitors stopped by our booth frequently to see what was happening and listen to the broadcast.
Hunter Engineering Co. occupies the largest booth in the hall, a 7,000-sq.-ft. space that faces the entrance. No matter what time of day, it seemed, the Hunter booth was teeming with activity.
In fact, the company said it had more than 175 scheduled meetings alone during the show. That, of course, doesn't account for walk-up traffic that resulted in a meeting and, perhaps, in a sale.
Traffic seemed to be just as crazy at the Toyo Treadpass, an exhibit area between the South and Central Halls that included an air-conditioned tent.
Executives from Toyo Tire U.S.A. said they couldn't be happier with the number of visitors to their display, many of whom said they were there to claim limited-edition pins that the tire maker gave out periodically. Toyo smartly uses its social media expertise to target a specific audience that, in turn, seems to support its products.
Naysayers, however, would point to the fact that none of the Big 3 tire makers — Bridgestone, Michelin or Goodyear — have exhibits, and that most other major companies — Continental, Nexen, Sumitomo/Falken, Yokohama — that do have a presence at the show opt for exhibit space in the open-air section outside of the LVCC's exhibition halls.
Cooper Tire is the only U.S.-based manufacturer to exhibit inside the South Hall. Tire Business has identified roughly 70 companies as tire makers that exhibited this year, and 50 or more of those were Chinese.