Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show

The Automotive World’s Dream Garage

The SEMA acronym originally stood for Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association, however in 1970, after government regulations became an issue the name was changed to Specialty Equipment Market Association to improve the overall image of the association.

The first SEMA Show in 1967 was held in the basement of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the home then and the home now of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers. That first SEMA show in 1967 had 98 manufacturers manning booths and an attendance of around 3,000 people. The event had 5 cars on display, including a 1967 Ford GT40 in the Shelby America booth and a drag-race-prepped Dodge Dart. The early SEMA shows, held in Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, were exclusively card-table-and-masking-tape affairs, but as the popularity of the show grew in the seventies more sophisticated display and marketing techniques became part of the event and were visible throughout the show.

The SEMA Show quickly outgrew the confines of sports stadiums and by 1977, after a short three-year run at Anaheim Stadium, it permanently relocated to The Entertainment Capital of the World, ultimately becoming one of the biggest yearly conventions in Vegas. Every year over the course of four days during the first week of November, the best of the best in the motor vehicle aftermarket business makes the almost two million square- foot Las Vegas Convention Center your dream garage.

So, what gets people excited about the SEMA Show?

Well for starters, more than 150,000 people attend the SEMA Show each year in Las Vegas. It includes all the OEMs and gets your products and brand in front of 70,000 qualified buyers and 3,600 global media representatives that are associated with the automotive customization market. If you are looking for products that enhance the performance, styling and functionality of cars, trucks, and SUVs then the SEMA Show is the place to be.

At the end of the day, the SEMA Show represents the $44.6 billion automotive aftermarket and is the world’s premier automotive trade show. Buyers from retail shops all over the world come to the SEMA Show because it is the only trade show that brings together every segment of the automotive industry, from hot rods and off-roads, to mobile electronics and collision repair for hot new products for businesses to sell to their customers. The SEMA Show has 2,400 exhibitors, which makes it, unequivocally the best place for buyers to discover the best new products that will help their businesses grow.

The return on investment for participating in the SEMA Show is high. Participants are able to conduct a great deal of business at the Show. A single badge allows entry to the Show all four days, and we’re seeing a trend in attendees staying longer and longer. More and more people are realizing that rather than rushing and attending just a single day that they will get a greater return by staying multiple days.

Who can attend the upcoming 2019 SEMA show?

Getting into the SEMA Show is a common question each fall as the buzz around SEMA starts to generate in the industry and for auto enthusiast looking for what is new. The SEMA Show is a trade-only show. It is only for attendees that work in the trade.

To get into SEMA, you must work in the specialty equipment industry and you need documentation that proves you’re in the industry. This is required if you register online or in person at the SEMA Show.

The SEMA Show is not open to the general public and is a trade-only event. Attendees must be qualified and employed within the automotive aftermarket industry in order to be eligible to receive their registration badge and gain access to the exhibit hall.

You don’t need to be a member of the SEMA trade association to attend the SEMA Show.

The SEMA Show has clearly thrived without the aid of social media in its early years, but now it is one of the shows best engagement and marketing tools for both exhibitors and attendees.

Because the SEMA Show is a trade-only event, tools such as social media are instrumental in helping exhibitors connect with consumers. The consumer connection has increasingly become more and more important to those who attend the show, which is the reason they introduced SEMA Ignited a few years ago. SEMA Ignited is the official SEMA Show after-party and it’s open to consumers. It’s a rare opportunity for the general public to see and participate in the SEMA Show. We recommend all of our readers visit www.SEMAIgnited.com to learn more about this amazing industry event and how you can put yourself in the middle of all the action.

For those that have never been to an event what should they look forward to seeing at the 2019 SEMA Show?

Well given that this is the premier automotive aftermarket industry event of the industry all of the biggest names in the industry attend. There will be countless booths set up, presentations and demonstrations happening, and more contacts to meet than you can imagine with a few celebrities thrown into the mix. But if you are looking to grow your business within the automotive aftermarket industry, you need to be at the 2019 SEMA Show. For a full floor plan of the show and for a current up to date list of SEMA Spotlight Exhibitors, visit www.semashow.com.

The show is organized into six sections this year; Westgate Hotel (directly north of the exhibit halls), North Hall, the Central Hall, the South Hall Upper, the South Hall Lower, and the Performance Pavilion. The pavilion is outdoors next to the South Hall Upper/Lower. Below you will find some brief highlights as to what you can expect to find in each of these areas:

Westgate Hotel

  • First-Time exhibitors & Featured Exhibitors

North Hall

  • Collision Repair & Refinish
  • Mobile Electronics & Technology
  • Restyling & Car Care Accessories
  • Tools & Equipment

Central Hall

  • Racing & Performance
  • Hot Rod Alley
  • First-Time & Featured Exhibitors
  • Restoration Marketplace

South Hall Upper

  • Business Services
  • First-Time & Featured Exhibitors
  • Powersports & Utility Vehicles
  • Truck, SUVs, & Off-Road
  • New Products Showcase

South Hall Lower

  • Global Tire Expo
  • Wheels & Accessories

Performance Pavilion (Outdoors)

Our advice for first time SEMA attendees or exhibitors or people learning about SEMA Ignited for the first time?

Always plan ahead, it’s unrealistic to expect to show up the day of the event on November 5th and expect to get the maximum value of the Show. Those attending the show can plan in advance by reading SEMA eNews each week, and referring to the SEMA Show mobile app. There, the latest news and updates about the Show will be included. Following the official SEMA Show social media accounts is another great resource to help you prepare to get the most out of this year’s events.

In addition to new products and trends, the SEMA Show is an overall experience that includes networking, education and socializing with the leaders in the industry. For more information visit the SEMA Show website at www.semashow.com.

by David MacDonald