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Is SEMA Worth Going To?

Fitment Industries Author | | October 28th, 2018 |

  • - SEMA is ridiculous.
    If you've been there, then you know what it's like, and if haven't been there, you're kinda wondering how the hell you weren't allowed to go because your rejection got, or you got rejected because you own a car club, which is apparently not something that SEMA considers applicable way to get inside, but your friend that apparently works at a deli place somehow got to SEMA and you have absolutely no idea how. SEMA's kind of like that, welcome. Welcome to the trade show of SEMA. Today we're gonna be talking about like if SEMA's actually worth it, though. Because there's so many people that go, there's so much hype built up. Everybody wants to go to SEMA. And then you go there, you come back, and some people are just like, eh. It's whatever. So, I'm Alex from Fitment Industries, and if you're looking for wheels, tires, and suspension, don't forget to check out our website at FitmentIndustries.com. I had to look up to remember that. There's no cue card, I promise. And then, of course, if you can help us make more videos by hitting that subscribe button, that'd be super-cool. And let's just get right into it. So, SEMA was founded back in the mid-'60s, and it was originally the Speed Equipment Market Association. And eventually they had to change their name from Speed to Specialty, because some people got mad and thought that Speed was too rambunctious and too generationally, and they decided to name it something more modern so that they could exist forever. Which seems to be working out pretty well so far. The Specialty Equipment Market Association essentially was created to help bring people together to help form an actual community of after-market car component companies to do stuff. That is literally the most simplistic way I can explain what SEMA was meant for, and originally it was in the Dodger Stadium. It was in the basement. They had about five vendors, and it was a pretty good time. I would guess, I mean, it was a bunch of old people like Edelbrock, and it was, you know, some other big people. I mean, it was, I mean. They probably had beer back then. They have beer now at the end of it, so I mean, there's a couple of things going good.

    The infamous group of people consisted, like, Roy Richter, Willie Garner, Bob Hedman, Robert Wyman, John Bartlett, Phil Wyand, Al Siegel, Dean Moon, and Vic Edelbrock. It's a dream team if I've ever seen one. If you're going to SEMA, there's a meet and greet at the Acura booth outside Tuesday at 4 p.m. If you want to come say hi, there's like three of us that are gonna be there. There'll probably be three of you that show up. It'll be a good time. So, SEMA eventually started to grow, and they grew because, if you didn't know, the aftermarket racing community was bred in the SoCal area, and as companies began to pop up and grow and produce more and more parts, the SEMA show, essentially, continued to grow. In fact, even in the '70s, when, you know, the environmentalists weren't being super-nice to the car community, SEMA was actually booming, because everybody wanted to personalize their ride. And if you had a show that allowed you to show other people the cool things that you were making for cars, people went, ultimately started to buy it. And because of the way the trade show was essentially established by people that cared about the community, they never really had many issues. And over the '70s and '80s and '90s, it just continued to grow. They ultimately moved into Las Vegas, Nevada, which was the Sin City, in the '70s, and they stayed there ever since. They're held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and it is pretty much just a small city. In 2017 alone, it had over 70,000 different people, and over 3000 newly-introduced parts. Just to give you an idea on how big that is, that's bigger than my hometown of 64,000 people in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. So, why is SEMA awesome? Well, it's simple. It's packed with everything a car enthusiast would love to see. Not only is packed stuff a car enthusiast would love to see, it'd be packed with pretty much anything anybody that likes motors would want to see. You have Baja trucks, you have lifted trucks, you have slammed cars, you have performance cars, you have track cars, you have different things that you can do for NASCAR, like there's things that you can even take off a tire and put on a tire, and there's just all sorts of crazy stuff that makes you think that when you're at SEMA, you're pretty much at Disneyworld, which means that it's like a ton of fun. When we were there last year, Fitment Industries filmed over 40 videos, and we stayed in the South Lower Hall the entire time.

    We barely even had a chance to go check out the Central Hall, and by the time the event was over, we were still looking at places that we didn't even know existed because of how big the event actually was. But, that doesn't mean that automatically everybody loves SEMA. There are other companies out there that are, essentially, going to SEMA, but not participating in SEMA. And here's why. There's a couple different reasons, but a lot of it comes down to just the fact of how difficult it is to maintain their actual setup at SEMA, and the cost that's associated with it. There are other companies that would just prefer to not do that and save a quarter million dollars and they go and rent a suite at the Bellagio. Then they do a private invite-only sort of spectacle, and you get to go check out the wheel company, or part company, in a suite at the Bellagio. Like, why wouldn't, why wouldn't you want to do that? That doesn't make SEMA very happy. But there are other companies like Vossen last year that essentially just rents out space, and they, well, like, do it there, and it's invite-only. It's just, it's a very weird thing, but it's cool at the same time, because there's so many people at SEMA during the week that there's no reason for other companies to host at SEMA if they really don't need to. But what about people like us, the attendees? I mean, when you think about it, SEMA isn't the cheapest trip in the world. When you think about how much it costs to get the plane tickets, and the fact that hotel rates skyrocket unless you're staying at Circus Circus, or the fact that it's actually, you know, it's not necessarily cheap to go in there, and then all the food, and then all the walking. Gotta get new shoes because your shoes are definitely not going to work for the amount of time you're gonna be walking. You know, like, is it worth it? And that's where a lot of people seem to say either yes or no. But we've kind of broken it down, because of the fact that SEMA seems to be this mirrored personality as to what it should be and what people want it to be. Now, if you're going to SEMA and you're like us and you capture a bunch of video, you get to hang out with a bunch of wheel companies, you get to talk to them about a bunch of stuff, you give stuff away, you do the meet and greet, all this sort of stuff, yes, it is 100% worth it. If you're one of those companies that enjoys networking, likes to get out there, likes to meet new people and actually, like, do stuff with your time that you're out there and work, then SEMA's 100% worth it, because you will get so much value out of it. Now, if you're one of those people that's out there and they just want to have, you know, they want to go to SEMA one time and see what it's all about, and they somehow finagled their way to getting inside, then, like, yeah, it's worth it for probably the first and only year.

    And the reason that you have to remember that that's probably gonna be just one year is because ultimately things don't change a whole lot from year to year unless you are in the business, because the cool cars are awesome and stuff, but you're probably gonna get used to it if you go there every single year. Now, I'm not speaking for the general populace, I'm just saying that, you know, I'm not (babbles) Just, that's just how it is. SEMA's specifically angled to companies that are in the trade show, that are in the business, that are in the automotive market, because that's what a trade show should be. Which sounds pretty simple when you think about it, but when you break it down, a lot of people want it to be like a car show. They want it to be some sort of, like, night party for, like, anybody to come in and go as they please. And, ultimately stuff like that ruins the quality of what SEMA, the show, is actually intended for. Now, that's not to say that you can't go on a Friday, because it's open to the public, and have a good time, because it is awesome. But, if you're going there for business, then 100% worth it. And if you're not, I'd say try it out for a year and see if you actually enjoy it. SEMA's one of those shows where we love to go and it's probably where a lot of people love to go, and even though some companies partake in the actual trade show, while other people partake in spending a ton of money on suites, it's nevertheless an absolutely crazy time. So, if you're looking to pick up wheels, tires, and suspension, because this has got you thinking about those sort of things, head out to FitmentIndustries.com and pick some stuff up.

    We got, you know, mount balance, and ship to the Lower 48 for free, that's the, there you go. And then, of course, we have Acura and stuff like that, but I'm Alex from Fitment Industries. Don't forget to subscribe if you made it here. We'll see you later, peace.