There was something special to this year's SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association). The vibe was super positive, the crowd was huge and happy, the custom cars are on an entirely different level, and the industry as a whole seems really solid. I am beyond honored to be a part of it all... 13 years ago I would have never guessed my degree of alignment with such a gloriuos force in our automotive aftermarket industry.
Starting the week off as a keynote speaker for the New Student Luncheon was by far the best way to head into the craziest week of my year. The 600+ kids and the instructors are so enthusiastic about our world, it's the closest thing to rebirth I could ever imagine. What really stoked me was seeing these young poeple multiple times at various autograph sessions and random hallways througout the week; to the point we were tossing high fives like long time friends. To me, it means that something in my message deeply resonated with them and inspired awesome inside them. Same exact thing with a few of the young ladies from Gear Up Girl later that afternoon.
For the last 6 years I have been signing autographs at booths like WARN Ind. and Lincoln Electric; and for the last 6 years, it never ceases to amaze me how people keep showing up to wait in line for their chance to meet me... or just to recieve a free poster... it truly is a humbling experience and I am so grateful for your support and loyalty. Even the compaines that are new to me and my fans such as CRC and Craftsman, even they received such great response and we couldn't be happier with the turnout.
There is more to SEMA than just the epic car show itself. Awards, competitions, seminars, banquets, live television, demos... it is breaching insanity when one really understands all the hundreds of different areas to plug into with SEMA organization. One of my favorites involves contestants from the Young Executives Network (YEN) as they present their newest aftermarket creation to a panel of judges and audience. Launch Pad is much like the television show Shark Tank, instead the judges pick the best product/presentation/person to win free advertising, booth space at next year's show, and market assistance. The panel is full of stellar gents with the likes of SEMA Super Hero Wade Kawasaki and self made DUB star Myles Kovacs mixed with my unorthodox perspective. Congrats to Robert Vogt with his Voyo OBD-II unit.
The weather was chilly for Las Vegas. We even dealt with hail this year. At the end of the week, nothing stopped hundreds of the best built cars in the world from celebrating their successes by driving across the street for SEMA Ignited... the official after party. Hands down, the best car show ever! There was a point in the evening I was in Welderup's hauler, affectionatley known as Swamp Ass, and looked out across the parking lot and it felt like we were the main event at a rock concert. Unreal amoutns of awesome... and I don't drink... just sayin'.
Believe it or not, I did not die after 6 days of SEMA, which is really only supposed to be 4 days... oh, did I forget to tell you I went to the NHRA top fuel drag races at the beginning of the week!? After 10-ish years, it's tradition at this point. Either way, I was home for approximatley 10 hours and hopped on an airplane to Chicago for the FabTech trade show.
This year left me wanting to become more involved with the SEMA organization. I have a few great ideas up my sleeve. What are you gonna do?