SEMA Virtual Town Hall Delivers Good News for Industry

SEMA Virtual Town Hall Delivers Good News for Industry

When this year’s SEMA Show takes place Nov. 2-5, it will have been three full years before the industry re-convened in Las Vegas. What will it look like as we enter this new “normal” period, and should we start making plans to attend or exhibit now?

In the past SEMA would travel annually to several different cities and hold Town Hall events to meet personally with people from the industry and share ideas and concerns. But that hasn’t been possible since the pandemic began, so on May 4, SEMA hosted a 45-minute Virtual Town Hall, which they described as “the next best thing.”

SEMA staff shared firsthand details about the industry’s most pressing issues, and answered questions from viewers live during the event.

SEMA Chairman Tim Martin opened the Town Hall meeting and stressed the organization isn’t going to be dissuaded by uncertain times and protocols that can change rapidly. Last year, the SEMA board and staff joined the rest of the world and went into an adapt mode, with the goal of providing timely resources and information to its members, he said.

“The current national trends for COVID recovery have our industry on track for a strong finish in 2021, and we’re feeling positive about our prospects for 2022,” Martin said. “We really have come far as an industry and as an association. I want to assure our SEMA members that this board and our employees will be stepping up more now than ever before to deliver services and tools to our membership.”

Among the topics discussed were the 2021 SEMA Show, EPA Emissions Enforcement SEMA Compliance Services, 2021 PRI Show/PRI membership and the brand-new SEMA Garage in the Detroit area.

A SEMA update from Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso followed Martin’s opening statements.

First, he talked about the new West Hall added to the Las Vegas Convention Center and now in full operation. It’s an $890 million, 500,000-square foot expansion, the 54th in the convention center's history, built to increase the center's meeting space and improve the building's overall design while featuring the latest technology, as well as to connect the convention center to the Las Vegas Strip.

“The West Hall’s expanded layout is just the start of what is going to be the best SEMA Show in its 54-year history,” Gattuso said. “With the new hall, traffic flow will be easier, and you’ll find improved access to exhibitors and features like education, new products and networking.

"There will also be a new underground transportation system connecting different areas of the campus to each other. This will provide a much easier way for people to get around the show. Eventually, that tunnel will part of a bigger system that will reach the Vegas Strip and the McCarron International Airport, and you will be able to use it this year in November.”

In June, the staff at SEMA will start assigning booth locations, and Gattuso anticipates all the majors in the collision repair industry will be back in a big way.

“We’re hearing exciting news,” he said. “Many manufacturers have not stopped their passion for developing new products and business opportunities. The SEMA Show will provide a springboard for innovation and products for years and years to come, all we’ll see two full years of design development and creativity.

"I am confident that the halls will be filled with more products, trends and innovations than ever before, and I believe that the energy and passion at you typically find at the show will be bigger and stronger than ever.”

Gattuso is also excited about a series of new educational classes that will be featured at the show, and what he believes will be an epic New Products Showcase.

“We are already hearing about some of the vehicle builds that we’ll be viewing, and you’re going to see some of the best vehicles on the planet."

There will be a product pitching contest this year, SEMA Launchpad, that will shine a light on new innovators and entrepreneurs in the industry.

The safety protocols for the show aren’t yet determined, but recent positive news in Nevada have encouraged Gattuso, he said.

“The governor of the State of Nevada recently announced that the state will return to 100% capacity by June 1," Gattuso said. "We’re excited to welcome the industry back to Las Vegas and can’t wait to see you here in person.”

To register for SEMA 2021 and secure housing, as well as exhibit space if you’re a manufacturer, access the website at

In July, SEMA will once again host its 11th Exhibitor Summit in Las Vegas, where exhibiting companies can devise a plan and get ready for the show.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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