Well it has been some time hasn't it?
So SEMA 09, an interesting show this year!
Smaller, yes noticeably so, fewer displays, wider isles, some notable companies missing, however not all is gloomy, and the state of the industry appears to be good.
I spent a lot of time talking to vendors this year, mainly on the last two days.
Every vendor that could be considered Tier One, that being the big names, not the me too vendors, reported an amazing show. Every one of them were quite astounded that they were writing orders, getting new leads, and were in fact almost run of their feet during the first couple of days.
One noticeable example was Mastercraft Seats, recognized as the leader in off-road seating for any vehicle, and the leader in quality. Mastercraft moved from the off-road area to the Hot Rod / street area, with a bigger and more open display area, and it worked, every time I passed it was full.
Several of the other seat manufactures seemed to be lacking traffic of any kind, well one did well but that was all for the former nude model.
Ford dominated the OEM display, huge, bright and always full of people looking at very cool stuff. GM's display, well you could probably hold a rugby match without any fear of running over someone. Chrysler was in it's normal place in back of the tire hall, no idea if anyone found them.
there was lots of very interesting 'new products' on display. Some 'why is this considered new' products as well; yet more exhaust systems. Why is an exhaust system considered a new product totally escapes me.
One quick walk through the off-road area, and it would be quick, because it was hard to make out from the other products added to fill out the area. New products, well a couple, more on that later.
The Green Zone had a surprise in store for anyone who might make the trip and be interested in New and Off-Road. A vehicle called a Rally Fighter, made by Local Motors, very cool indeed. Limited production calls for only 2000 units, but somewhat different. The new owner gets the opportunity to participate in the vehicle build. The Rally Fighter is a space frame design powered by a BMW diesel and it has a truly nasty looking composite body. This car will scare people.
On the dark side, the trade show police were out and patrolling the floor and causing bad feelings all round. Of what do I speak? One manufacture's rep told me of a seas and desist order he received for handing out FREE power drinks, and it came with a threatened, beyond reason fine. Why you ask? Seems the vendors charging outrageous amounts for soda are protected and the people this show is all about cannot give out drinks. The catch, none of the vendors sold any sort of power drink, none, nodda.
At another booth I asked a guy why on earth was he drinking his beer covered by a bag, trade show police again. Seems one cannot bring their own beer, even if it is for lunch, and it seems he didn't care for the type of beer for sale and being a different brand didn't want to risk the wrath of the trade show police.
Funny thing, people wonder why manufactures don't come back the following year?
Another interesting point, when moving in, if it is done on a Saturday, moving booth containers is at time and a half, seven forbid something has to be moved on a Sunday, that is double time. Booth rental is the least cost people displaying have to worry about. No wonder the show is shrinking each year.
Another bad thing I was party to hearing, OK eves dropping again. On the Wednesday morning on the train ride to the show I heard two guys discussing the decision of the Tire Association to not attend the show in '10 and to only attend the regional shows. Seems they made better use of their time and garnered better results if the buyers didn't have to travel so far. This was the second morning of the show and a major group had already planned on not coming back. Scary thought for SEMA. Several of the big players in the tire business didn't attend this years show in any case.
The AAPEX show, that is the repair part show, didn't make out much better this year. Same story really, fewer displaying, but the major brand people all reported doing very brisk business.
Seems that those at both shows who make a quality product and had very few returns did a very good bit of business, those who had quality issues, not so much.
this is good news for the consumer, the choice may be smaller at your favorite shop, but the quality will be higher if the show was any indication.