SEMA shows how Americans love customization image

During the course of the last week, through the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center, there was seemingly something for every motorists dream – all part of the SEMA show, the annual gathering of the Specialty Equipment Marketers Association.

The largest trade group for automotive aftermarket suppliers says it’s on track to report close to $32 billion in sales this year, reflected by the record turnout of more than 2,500 vendors and many as 150,000 visitors to this year’s event.

“Anything you can put on a car or fix a car with, they have it at the SEMA Show,” gaped Chris Perry, the general manager of Chevrolet.

A growing list of auto manufacturers participates in the SEMA show, including brands as diverse as Kia, Ford and Lexus. And there are a variety of reasons why. For one thing, most makers now offer their own, expansive catalogues of parts and accessories. And the annual gathering is a great way to get the word out.

“This is an influential group that comes here,” explains Hyundai’s Scott Margason, who oversees the maker’s involvement with SEMA. “We’ve been trying to put more emotion into the brand,” Margason adds.

While the major automakers dominated the SEMA Show floor, they were only a small part of the name count of exhibitors. This year saw another 5% more sign on, bringing the total count to around 2,500, according to Peter MacGillivray, the trade group’s events director. Virtually every inch of Sin City’s vast convention hall was used for the show – with vendors spilling over into a number of the parking lots. With 150,000 tickets sold, the SEMA Show ranks second only to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in the hierarchy of Las Vegas events.