Friday, November 13, 2009

SEMA Lite Editorial

It seems the economy has had a drastic affect on the Automotive Aftermarket as witnessed by this years SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Exhibitor counts were way down, Toyo Tire and others were noticeable by their absence. The parking lot in front of the Las Vegas Convention was actually used for parking this year. In years past, large Vendor displays of tractor trailers and product out for all to see were there, but gone this year. Also missing were the large tents full of vendors that could not fit inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. Also noticeable was the fact is was easy to walk around the Convention Center without having to bump into to other people or push through a crowd to get to see a booth or display. While there was plenty to do and see (and I'll add these later), there was a sense that maybe all wasn't "fine and dandy" with the state of the Automotive Aftermarket. Another observation I made was the gap between the "Haves and Have Nots" grows wider. The "Heavy Hitters" were there showing off endless amount of Automotive "Bling", but I also noticed more tire kickers than serious members of the Industry there to buy product.

The SEMA Show is still one of the very best (I'm a SEMA Member) and what this show does if nothing else, is show us there is hope, or a light at the end of the tunnel. Now if SEMA would just do a smart thing like Steve Lewis and the Performance Racing Industry Group did, and move to a venue that is easier to navigate, and not so chopped up and disjointed as the Las Vegas Convention Center is. And/or perhaps SEMA could work with the City of Las Vegas to streamline the parking and transportation in and out of the show, but maybe a move to a better location would solve that problem from the start. Las Vegas has this great Monorail system in place, with a great station at the Convention Center. But if you are not staying at one of the various Hotels connected to the Monorail, there does not seem to be any good way to take advantage of this fine example of Mass Transit. The large, open, and free parking lot at the corner of Sahara and Paradise went unused and empty the entire week.

I hope next year the Automotive OEs will come back in strength and numbers, and support the show that makes some of the lame offerings from GM and Chrysler shine and look more appealing. And if the economy is not back in full swing by mid 2010, SEMA needs to rethink some of their pricing for booth spaces. This is a good time for a "Wal-Mart" type of Price Roll Back. Note to Toyo and others who bailed: "Out of Sight, Out of Mind".

Dicken Wear, Editor
"The Motorsports Report"

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