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It's SEMA time. What does this mean for YOU?

  • Posted: 10-30-2012 11:13 AM
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Every year, around September time, our job gets a little harder to do. Manufacturers are distracted by planning and project car buildup, slowing down service to customers. In October, if you want some custom work done, forget it. SEMA projects have taken over. And in the last week of November, we have the greatest excuse for slowing our pace a bit...SEMA is here.

I really don't have a single picture to convey SEMA to you if you have not seen it, so look at this Google-search result to get it in a nutshell. Lots of crazy nutty cars made just for this one day, off-road madness, lots of pretty girls, sparkly lights...the whole sheebang. Do me a favor and link after reading though.

SEMA stands for "Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association" and every year they put on a convention in Las Vegas. This event is a huge one. I don't know how many cars, how many exhibitors, or how many attendees they get, but this show dwarfs not only all other car events, but nearly all other conventions as well. If you have or are interested in anything with wheels and an engine and paint, you should really be interested in the SEMA show.

So how come for the last 15 years have I been so disinterested in attending?

I have never gone to SEMA, and when most of my contemporaries hear this they don't believe me. I am in the industry and am fairly well respected. I am in Southern California; not too far of a drive to the venue. I have to be honest sometimes I myself wonder what the deal is with me and bringing Heeltoe to SEMA. Allow me to do some soul-searching.

One: SEMA, and most all other shows, cost time and money. Being really conservative with my business' cash allows me to save, invest in new products, upgrade our website, and bring more interesting items to light for you; our customers. It is the same reason I don't have business cards and why it took me 6+ years to make plate frames. These marketing investments do not benefit customers. Therefore, why spend the money? Taking the time to go takes me away from other important tasks, such as those mentioned above. No, it is not work pissing off even one customer to go to a show and wander around for a few days.

Two: The feedback is not encouraging. When people come back from SEMA and I ask them how it was, I get a lot of "It was cool." Or "It was alright." I never get "Oh man it was totally amazing! I made all sorts of contacts and am going into some totally new business now." Well, except for Niel Tjin. Sometimes I wonder if they are sandbagging. But then I realize it really is not much other than a really large car show which I rarely have a great time at anyway.

Three: It feels like there is more a reason to go for parties than there is for the show itself. This could be my having a really skewed perception based on the dribble I follow on Facebook. I have good friends that go year after year who I sure pick up great info there. But they aren't in the import industry. Most all whom I deal with seem a little more interested in promoting their after-parties than their car-parties.

Four: Everyone is gone! Yes, while everyone and their brother are off at SEMA, Heeltoe is here with the few other holdouts (or unlucky few stuck holding down the fort). Sales keep coming in, we keep chatting up customers, and we still operate 100%. However since everything else in the network of the industry has come to a grinding halt, we are unable to work our asses off like normal. If something is going slow this week for a customer, we cheerfully but honestly relay the sore news that SEMA is here and we won't have much to do until next week. So work for us during SEMA week is a time for catching up and getting some things done that go undone for a little while.

Five: All the best stuff gets splattered online anyway. There are so many people who weasel into the show under a "press" banner (SEMA is not open to the public, by the way) there are more pictures posted every hour than one would know what to do with. To know what the latest is, one just needs an internet connection.

Six: For me this time of year kicks off the holidays. While anyone with a website that accepts credit cards is out there clamoring for your money, we like to take it easy around the end of the year. SEMA is a symbol of the machine crunching and clanking feverishly trying to get some money from the public, which to me is really sort of a gross display. It's like Black Friday and Cyber-Monday (who the hell made that up?). Every-other weekend from here ‘til next Spring is an excuse to put up a sale. We would rather have our sales slower at this time of year. We want to spend time with our family and friends, just like you. We don't want to be part of that incessant machine hammering and hammering and hammering to buy buy buy. Side note: this is why you don't typically see holiday promotions from Heeltoe.

Seven: I guess I am just not interested enough. Opening and running Heeltoe was never about being on the cutting edge or doing some amazing car build or being popular. I love driving cars, the physics and dynamics that go into it, and feeling changes made. For all the automotive debauchery at the show I have seen it all before (in that I have seen all kinds of people doing crazy, insane stuff that nobody has ever done before). So one year 24" wheels is amazing. Next year it is 26" wheels. What kind of rocket scientist needs to go see what the next thing is going to be? Really it is a spectacle, but I think the point is lost on me a bit.

I know there have been more reasons in the past not to go. But there remains a draw for me inside to make it out once in a while. There are a lot of seminars and smaller vendors who might just have that next awesome thing for us to share with you. Such items get overlooked with all the glitz. At the end of the day, though, I feel infinitely more productive here, on the computer, answering emails and phone calls and forum posts.

Although we are definitely interested in seeing the first Supercharge ILX from CT Engineering...we will be sharing that with you as soon as we can :)


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