Get To Know Your Association (SEMA)

When you ask most SEMA Members what value they receive from the association, the conversation usually goes straight to the SEMA and PRI trade shows. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it speaks to the success of those events, it doesn’t fully reflect the true mission of the association which is….

SEMA will help our members’ businesses succeed and prosper. Our members are the producers and marketers of specialty-equipment products and services for the automotive aftermarket.

We Will Do This By:

  • Proactive leadership in our industry to help it expand domestically and worldwide.
  • Delivering programs, activities and information in response to the ongoing and emerging needs of our members.
  • Emphasizing education to help members focus on and achieve acceptable world-class quality standards.
  • Legislative and regulatory advocacy.
  • Producing the industry’s leading trade show.
  • SEMA provides a vast amount of day-to-day member resources that “can” and “do” make a tangible difference in the success of member companies. Unfortunately not enough members take advantage of these resources and that is troubling to me. I believe this lack of engagement can be traced back to a few shortcomings:

    1. Poor communication from the association to the members.
    2. Programs that may not “hit the mark” for member needs.
    3. Members that are too busy to understand the potential value.

    In my experience, most SEMA members simply don’t know enough about their association. The reasons for this are varied but very correctable. Working in conjunction with the dedicated and talented staff, I believe you will see SEMA become a more member-focused association in the months ahead and the membership will respond with a higher engagement/activation rate.

    Throughout my recent Board of Directors re-election campaign, I was surprised with how few members had ever read the bylaws that govern SEMA. With this in mind, I am making the official SEMA bylaws available here as it is a matter of public record that should be readily available to all members. If members have any questions or concerns about these bylaws, I would encourage them to contact me or any of my fellow Board of Directors to discuss the situation. After all, the Board is there to represent and execute the wishes of the membership – we want and need input.

    Click To Download SEMA Bylaws

    When Responsibility Meets Passion

    “Preserving The Legacy. Investing In The Future”

    This is more than just a cliche campaign statement to me, it’s a very real responsibility that I feel to help guide this industry through continued uncertainty ahead. I’m not a politician, I don’t particularly enjoy cocktail receptions or the thought of another cross-country Board meeting that takes me away from my family and business. However, I am a “car guy” that cares deeply for this industry and is willing to devote the necessary time and energy to fight for its future. I am passionate about ensuring that SEMA member companies, small and large, have their voices heard and that the association works to benefit the membership rather than for the benefit of the SEMA brand. Like all trade associations, SEMA exists solely to benefit the membership and overall automotive aftermarket/motorsports industry – nothing more, nothing less.

    I believe that we are at a crossroads as an industry and a trade association. The automotive aftermarket as we know it is changing quickly, and we must adapt to tomorrow’s market conditions, technologies and communication methods while not forgetting the lessons of the past.

    I have the utmost respect for the rich tradition of SEMA and for the outstanding past leadership that has allowed us to reach heights the original forefathers could not have imagined. However, I believe it is our duty to build upon that history by making SEMA more nimble, focused and proactive to meet today’s challenges head-on. SEMA is a complex and dynamic association with a talented staff, but it’s the responsibility of your elected Board of Directors to “take ownership of the strategic vision”.

    As an elected Board member, my primary responsibility is to first advocate for the expressed needs of the membership, especially the manufacturers as that’s the category I have been elected to represent. In the event there is no consensus or strong opinion among the membership, my personal position/experience on key issues becomes the guiding principles of how I conduct Board business.

    Below I have outlined a few of the issues that I personally feel strongly about and I hope to address in the term ahead. But first, as a sitting member of the Board of Directors, let me make the obligatory “these opinions are my own and in no way represent the opinions of the SEMA organization or staff”:

    1) Increased Responsiveness To Member Needs – The culture of the association must become more service-focused to fit the diverse needs of today’s membership. This is a broad topic that reaches into all areas of the organization – from the overly complex business structure (must eliminate silos) to creating a customer service attitude. Often in the past, it seems the association’s solution to every challenge has been to create a one-size fits all “program”. I think we need to focus less on programs and more on old fashioned, one-on-one problem solving. I often hear feedback from members that they don’t know where to even start to get help at SEMA, or they make contact with someone and they couldn’t get anyone to empathize or take ownership of their problem. If this is the consensus of the membership then we are failing our mission as an association, and it’s time to insist on a new approach. With some practical and intentional effort, we can turn the tide and make SEMA a service-focused culture for other trade associations to follow. I believe one such “building block” is to establish a “Member Help Center” as a centralized starting point for members to access personalized SEMA resources and assistance for solving practically any business challenge they may encounter. SEMA exists to help members use the collective strength (and resources) of the association to solve challenges that they cannot solve on their own – it’s time we put every aspect/program of the organization to the litmus test against that mission statement to ensure we are delivering real value.

    2) Legislative Affairs – Candidly, I feel we’ve been too reactive on this front when it should be the association’s top on-going priority, even during the perceived good times. Effectively lobbying on behalf of the industry is tough to measure ROI and even harder to do, but it is critical given the uncertain political landscape ahead. If we don’t do it proactively, competing interests and industries certainly will, and we will be resigned to letting others dictate our future. We must invest in the proper legislative resources and immediately build the SEMA Action Network (SAN) into a large and powerful advocacy group of enthusiasts that applies political pressure around issues that are relevant to our industry. Every option should be on the table when it comes to clearly sending the message that we will fight for the rights of our members.

    3) Financial Stewardship – The topic of association finances is always a contentious subject among the SEMA membership. I personally do not believe that we currently operate with the amount of financial transparency that should be expected of a nonprofit trade association. With that being said, I have never witnessed any financial actions within the association that I didn’t feel were made with the best of intentions. This doesn’t mean that I always agree with how we deploy capital, but I do think those involved are always well-meaning. We have been blessed with great financial leadership by previous Boards and SEMA staff, but nobody really wants to talk about our financial position for fear of invoking input and criticism. Not only should we be more open about these matters (when appropriate), but we should ensure that we are deploying our financial resources to serve member needs today rather than continuing to stockpile financial assets. Thankfully, we have accumulated adequate “rainy day” savings that will carry the association through any reasonable economic downturn and normal business cycles. Therefore, I believe it’s time to switch gears and start using financial surplus today to ensure our members are healthy and prosperous for the future. Why should we budget for a surplus each year when we can deliver meaningful member benefits today – can you say lower trade show booth fees?

    4) Next Generation & Industry Awareness – While these subjects are often discussed as separate, I feel that they are very much intertwined. We need to better position our industry to fit the interests of young people while becoming much more aggressive in marketing the overall automotive/motorsports lifestyle. We have “great subject matter” but we must work with a greater sense of urgency to appeal to tomorrow’s enthusiasts and leaders of this industry. This can no no longer be about random “projects”; it must become a priority and part of a strategic marketing plan that is ingrained in the very DNA of SEMA. Yes, our membership is broad and it won’t be easy to craft the right plan, but other industries have certainly been successful and we can too, with the right leadership.

    5) Greater Transparency – If there is one complaint that I hear repeatedly in my travels, it is that SEMA is a “good old boys club” that is primarily interested in serving the interests of a few powerful members. Having served the last three years on the Board, I can say with certainty that the “club” does not exist or at least they have done a good job of hiding it from me. However, I completely understand why members feel this way as the association is not especially transparent, and it often make decisions (with good intentions) behind closed doors rather than seeking input. It’s time for a new approach that is built on transparency and meaningful member communications.

    6) Forming A PRI Sub-Association – SEMA has done a great job of guiding the PRI trade show since its acquisition, but it has become very clear that the motorsports community has very specific trade association needs, and there is a void of consolidated representation. I support creating a new PRI sub-association that will allow motorsports community stakeholders (racers, businesses, media, facility/sanctioning body operators) to join as members and provide a combination of shared/dedicated association resources to help the community address on-going market challenges.

    7) Expanded SEMA/PRI Physical Presence – I believe the association needs to diversify its geographic presence to better serve the SEMA membership and potentially a new PRI membership base. I support establishing a small but dedicated PRI headquarters in a centralized Midwest/Southeast location such as Indianapolis, Nashville or Charlotte. In addition, I believe it is important that SEMA also establish a small technology-focused field office in the Greater Detroit area to stay abreast of the latest OE technology. These expansions would be in addition to ensuring that our current Washington, DC office has the proper footprint and resources to accomplish our legislative and regulatory goals.

    8) SEMA Show Stewardship – Make no mistake that the SEMA Show is the financial engine that drives the whole association. Therefore, it is critical that we set the proper vision to keep it healthy and productive in the years to come. Just like our marketplace, the trade show business is also in a time of dynamic change with technology impacting it in ways never before thought possible. SEMA is fortunate to have a world-class show production team on staff, but it’s the responsibility of your elected Board to set the direction for evolving the show with the SEMA mission statement in mind. We’re in the trade show business not to have the biggest or most profitable show but rather to help our members and the industry prosper. This is a difficult balancing act as we need the trade show (financially & otherwise) but we must not let it overshadow or outweigh the overall mission of the association. On a more tactical show-related topic, I recently was asked about my position on the contentious issue of consumers at the SEMA Show, and I provided my position which you can read here.

    In addition to the topics above, I am also highly supportive of the following on-going SEMA programs:

    • Market Research
    • International Market Development
    • Council & Network System
    • Career Center & Job Board

    Successfully guiding the automotive aftermarket into the future won’t be easy, but I believe my on-going Board service has shown that I am a leader among my boardroom peers and a strong advocate working on behalf of all SEMA members. I respectfully ask for your vote in the upcoming SEMA Board election (May 14-28, 2019).

    Chris Douglas #ChrisForSEMA



    Key Reasons To Re-Elect Chris Douglas To The SEMA Board Of Directors

    Fellow SEMA Member:

    Next Tuesday (May 14th), the election ballots for the SEMA Board of Directors will be emailed to each company’s primary SEMA contact, and sadly only 10% of the membership historically votes. This is a critical time for our industry, and I’m confident the membership will step up this year with a great voter turnout. I encourage you to research all of the candidates (bios here) and choose those that best represent your views and values.

    To that point, I respectfully ask for your consideration, and I have supplied some materials below for your review. I am vying to continue filling one of three available Board seats representing the Manufacturer’s category. Quite simply, it is critical to the success of my re-election campaign that I earn your support. This Board of Directors election will be very close, and every vote is important in deciding who will fight for our industry in the years ahead. The industry that we love has some challenges moving forward, and it will take strong, energetic leadership that’s not afraid to ask the hard questions to help SEMA navigate a rapidly changing marketplace.

    While all of the BoD candidates are friends and fine industry representatives, there are some clear contrasts between us. I have done my best to outline those differences and my immediate priorities in the attached campaign mailer.

    From my experience as a hands-on racer/enthusiast to over 25 years of business leadership experience (both large & small companies) in this industry, I feel that I bring a unique blend of skill set, passion and dedication to my SEMA volunteer roles. I have been extremely fortunate in my career that I have been able to work daily at COMP Cams, alongside two previous SEMA Chairmen of the Board and three SEMA Hall of Fame members. The knowledge of the industry, the association and life lessons gained from those individuals has been invaluable in shaping the leader that I am today.

    Three Key Reasons To Re-Elect Chris Douglas

    1. Strong & Proven Board Leadership – As a sitting Board member, I understand the complexity of the issues that face us today and the diversity of the segments we represent. Even more importantly, I understand how we got to where we are today. No orientation or adjustment period needed, if re-elected, I am able to continue delivering results for the membership from day one of my term.
    2. Diverse Industry Experience – From small start-ups to one of the industry’s largest privately held corporations, I have worked in SEMA member businesses of all sizes, and I understand the unique challenges faced by each. Additionally, I have a broad understanding of the diverse market segments that make-up the SEMA membership, from off-road businesses to the wheel & tire manufacturers.
    3. Unique Perspective – Candidly, I think one of the greatest contributions that I offer the Board is the ability to see problems and solutions that others simply can’t. A properly functioning Board is all about offsetting skill sets and diverse perspectives, and over the last three years I have added a unique viewpoint that others simply “couldn’t” or “wouldn’t” voice. My fellow Board members will tell you that I can be determined when debating the issues, but I am always fair and usually bring a unique viewpoint to the discussion.

    Below I have included comments from a few of our colleagues (and industry volunteers) that I hope you find useful in making your decision.

    “I have been fortunate to work on projects with Chris and have always admired his integrity, work ethic, and commitment to our industry and to SEMA. Chris is a dedicated volunteer, a great family man, and I would encourage you to re-elect Chris Douglas for the SEMA Board of Directors.” Joel Ayres, Executive Director, AACF

    “Chris Douglas has dedicated his entire career to the aftermarket, and as a leader in the performance market that runs a manufacturing company that still makes parts in-house just like we do, I support Chris in his run for the SEMA Board of Directors. SEMA needs board members who understand the importance of American manufacturing and the pressures we face in the form of government regulation and legislation as well as outside pressure from overseas manufacturing. SEMA needs leaders that will hold the staff accountable to the needs of its members, and I believe Chris will do that.” Rick Love, Executive Vice President, Vintage Air, Inc.

    “Chris Douglas has my vote! Chris represents hardcore racing to me, being a former race car driver and still often found at little race tracks on weekends. With both a manufacturing and marketing background, Chris has a “pulse” on the needs of the racing industry. His vision, where he wants “action,” not talk, can help the racing industry move forward into the future. My vote is going to Chris Douglas for re-election to the SEMA Board of Directors.” Judy Kean, Partner, EPARTRADE

    You can view my full list of industry endorsements here.

    I have the strategic vision and commitment to continue helping this industry tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Working together, I’m confident that we can position SEMA for a bright future. It won’t be easy, but I’m up for the challenge and ready to be your voice on the SEMA Board of Directors.

    One final request: I would deeply appreciate you reaching out to your industry friends, sharing my information and asking them for their vote. Every vote counts.

    Thank you for your consideration. Win or lose, I look forward to working with you in the future, and please know that I have been truly humbled by the opportunity to serve the SEMA membership for the last three years on the Board of Directors.

    Click to view my campaign information sheet: #Chris4SEMA

    Now Is The Time For Action

    As a complex and diverse trade association that represents over 7000 member companies, SEMA has many competing responsibilities and priorities. In my opinion, there is nothing the association does that is more important than the legislative affairs work. I am extremely passionate about not only continuing these efforts forward but also increasing the resources and focus in this area. Looking into the future, I feel legislative advocacy must become a bigger part of the association’s DNA – not a project or a once per year rally.

    Candidly, I feel our industry has historically been slow to react on this front by waiting to deal with issues after they emerge rather than working on the front end to prevent them from ever happening. Effectively lobbying on behalf of the industry must be a priority – even during times when there is no perceived or immediate threat on the doorstep.

    If we don’t aggressively protect our interests, we will be resigned to letting others dictate our future. We must invest in the proper legislative resources in addition to growing the SEMA Action Network (SAN) into a large and powerful advocacy group of enthusiasts that applies political pressure around issues that are relevant to our industry. Every option should be on the table, including using legal means when appropriate, to clearly send the message that we will fight for the rights of our members. As one of the largest collections of small businesses in the country, we should yield formidable influence on government affairs and its time that we act to protect our future.


    I respectfully ask for your vote to continue fighting on behalf of our industry as a member of the SEMA Board of Directors. ~ Chris Douglas, #Chris4SEMA


    Answering The Call

    Recently the question of “Should the SEMA Show be opened up to more consumers?” was posed to the 2019 SEMA Board of Directors candidates via the Automotive Aftermarket Networking Group on Facebook. Since the question was posed by a longstanding SEMA member and generated some great dialogue in the follow-up comments, I feel a responsibility to provide my perspective on the issue.

    This is a great topic, albeit a very complex one, that deserves more meaningful discussion among the membership and SEMA Board. In my last three years on the Board, it frankly has not been widely discussed as we have been mostly dealing with urgent legislative/regulatory matters (RPM Act), next generation engagement along with financial oversight/guidance.

    First, as a sitting member of the Board of Directors, let me make the obligatory “these opinions are my own and in no way represent the opinions of the SEMA organization or staff” statement. With that out of the way, my position on this matter has remained consistent throughout my current Board of Directors term, but I am always listening for new perspectives on this issue and will continue to refine my stance as those are presented.

    My Board Position – I feel strongly that my personal opinion on this issue is secondary to my obligation to represent the consensus of the SEMA members, particularly the manufacturers within the SEMA membership as that is the category for which I have been elected. Based on the input that I have received recently, I do believe the consensus on this issue is evolving, and I feel it is important for the SEMA Board to “check the temperature” on this topic every 2-4 years to ensure that the wishes of the membership are being best served. In the year ahead, I would like to see new surveys on this issue with the potential for a referendum if there is sufficient interest among the membership. Honestly, I don’t know that there is enough interest in changing our current approach to make this a priority issue for the Board, but I am certainly willing to if the research shows otherwise. My “gut feel” is that there is vocal minority on both edges of the issue, and the vast majority of the members are content with the current approach.

    Since the question specifically asked about my “personal opinion” on the topic, I will address that candidly below while once again noting that my obligation is to represent the consensus, regardless of my personal feelings.

    My opinion based on 16+ years as an exhibiting manufacturer is that I would like to see the following:

    Create Media Preview – I support adding a show wide, official media preview slot to the Monday afternoon prior to the show opening. The members of the media are critical to telling our story, and they deserve a dedicated time slot that allows them to interface with exhibitors with minimal interruption. Additionally, this allows them to “get the scoop” prior to the official show opening and generates additional pre-show buzz that benefits all attendees and the overall industry.

    Strengthen Show Credential Criteria – I support tightening down the criteria for show credentials during the B2B (Tuesday – Thursday) portion of the show. The exhibitors and trade members should be able to conduct high-level business discussions with less distractions than exists today. With that being said, it’s worth noting that the majority of the credential abuse comes via the exhibitor guest badges. We as exhibitors create much of the consumer traffic on the show floor so collectively we must be prepared to sacrifice this right/privilege to curtail the number of consumers walking the show floor.

    Consumer Day – I support turning Friday of show week into a consumer day. I believe this will provide less incentive for consumers to work around the system to gain entry Tuesday – Thursday, provide revenue that can be used to reduce exhibitor booth fees, and it will also give us the consumer interaction that serves to expand/promote the overall industry. In some ways, we have already turned Friday into “Consumer Day” via SEMA Ignited so I’m not sure this is as big a change as it seems on the surface. I believe we collectively have an obligation to grow the industry (even if the ROI doesn’t directly benefit every exhibitor) by creating consumer interest and what better way to do that than to offer consumers a day at the show, capped off with seeing the industry “in motion” at SEMA Ignited? There are certainly challenges that will need to be addressed with a Consumer Day, but I have confidence that SEMA staff could navigate them “if” that was the directive from the membership.

    I appreciate Jason Sakurai posing this question as we need to tackle more tough conversations such as this one rather than sidestep the issues. Our industry is experiencing rapid change, and the only way we can properly serve our members is to be responsive, transparent and accountable for the actions of the association. That’s what I signed up for in 2016 and what I plan to advocate for over the next three years if re-elected. #Chris4SEMA

    You Can’t Regulate Passion

    It seems like I get asked on a daily basis by my non-industry friends if I fear for the future of our business due to the slow economy, increasing government regulation and the situation with the “Big Three” automakers. These people correctly point to the fact that our companies don’t produce a single product that is considered a necessity for daily life. In addition, it now seems that the new Washington administration is going to be heavily involved with deciding what type of cars the automakers will be building in the years ahead. Of course, the fact that this drama is unfolding right in front of our eyes and you can’t turn on a newscast without hearing about it only adds fuel to the discussion.

    So here’s my big prediction about the future of the automotive aftermarket: barring a complete economic meltdown, people will continue to chase their passion, and our industry will not only exist but many savvy companies will even prosper as the changes lead to untapped opportunities. If you recall, this industry has weathered plenty of tough times and market changes in the days gone by, such as the oil crisis of the 1970s and advent of computer controlled cars.

    Bottom line: it has always and will continue to be “cool” to go fast, regardless of the vehicle. Our customers are passionate about their automobiles; it’s something that stems from deep inside, not just a passing fad or hobby. If the automakers change the vehicles – we’ll change our business/products to adapt; if the government tightens the regulations – we’ll change our business/products to adapt. I just don’t foresee a scenario in which our customers will walk away from racing, street rodding or modifying their vehicles. In fact, it’s entirely possible that the harder outside forces try to dictate what type of cars should be on the road – there will be a big pushback by consumers. This could lead to a whole new cottage industry of automakers that are more in-tune with the performance, styles, etc that consumers want in their vehicles. Just think of the opportunities! 

    Despite all the changes that are certainly ahead for our industry, there’s no place I would rather be. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky we are to be involved in an industry driven by passion and genuinely good people. Think about how many unfortunate people in this world wander aimlessly through life without ever finding anything they are truly passionate about. Don’t listen to the naysayers, I’m here to tell you that it’s a great time to be a car guy/girl. Besides, the thought of getting a real job is about as exciting to me as a Dodge K-car!

    Chris Douglas
    VP of Marketing
    COMP Performance Group™

    Legal Disclaimer
    Some of the individuals posting to this site, including the moderators, work for the COMP Performance Group™. Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of the COMP Performance Group™. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by COMP Performance Group™ or any other party. This site is available to the public.

    Are Your Performance Parts Un-American?

    As a performance enthusiast, racer or street rodder, do you really care where your performance parts are being made? My experience has been that different market segments within the overall performance aftermarket seem to answer this question very differently. Many only care that you give them the very best products possible at the best price (especially in the current economic conditions), while others are staunchly opposed to putting foreign made products in their good old American muscle cars – even to the point that they will pay more or give up some product benefits within reason. I find it interesting that many of the companies that wave the “Made In The USA” banner so vehemently are the very same ones that are doing significant manufacturing outside of this country. After all, “Made In The USA” doesn’t mean their parts are not manufactured in China, Mexico, India, etc before being partially assembled inside our borders.

    If “Made In The USA” is something that is really important to you – I would urge you to not just accept a logo or statement at face value. Do some real research before laying out your hard earned cash. Dig deep enough and you might be very surprised at what you find.

    So let’s hear your opinion; does “Made In The USA” impact your performance parts purchase decisions more than price, value, etc? If you want to read more about this topic check out a recent article on Made in USA still has cache, but country takes a back seat to globalization.

    Chris Douglas
    Director of Marketing
    COMP Performance Group™

    Legal Disclaimer
    Some of the individuals posting to this site, including the moderators, work for the COMP Performance Group™. Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of the COMP Performance Group™. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by COMP Performance Group™ or any other party. This site is available to the public.