All over the world people speak of SEMA. It’s the show that once a year, brings in 120,000 people to Las Vegas, NV to see, learn, sell, and buy any and all things automotive. Throughout the show you can’t step foot inside a Starbucks without striking up a conversation with someone from SEMA. People from Russia, China, Australia, Germany, Qatar, Mexico, and dozens of other countries all flew in for this show. But what’s it like? Is the exclusivity of attendees and wide array of cars, trucks, and bikes make it as glamorous as outsiders think? Maybe at times, but let me take you through our time at SEMA.
My name is Will and I was at the SEMA Show exhibiting with Dr. Beasley’s. There were six of us from Dr. Beasley’s there to work, and each one of us were busy the entire show. Between the 10 hour days of the show, to dinner, drinks, and casinos afterwards, Las Vegas inevitably got the last laugh at us.
If you’re going to this show, you better lace up your Nikes and leave your Sperrys and loafers in the hotel room because your feet had better be comfortable if you’re going to be on your feet all day. What hurts worse between standing in a booth for 8 hours or walking the floor is still up for debate. But either way, choosing comfort over fashion will help your mind and body.
If you’re going to be exhibiting, get ready to talk. Bring some water. My voice got horse after just one day at the show. Engage the attendees. You’re there to generate leeds and get sales, sitting down and texting on your phone makes you utterly unapproachable. Engaging with the people made for some HILARIOUS stories. Some people were a riot, and some were less than friendly. But overall, it’s great to chat with people, hear their stories, and hopefully build some relationships.
If you’re attending, or getting a chance to peruse the show, there’s a lot to see. Too much to see. There are muscle cars and stanced cars, lifted trucks and milk vans all decked to the nines for this show. You’ll walk by booths with accessories that given a manual some people still wouldn’t know its function.
But there are other people behind the scenes working hard to make this show a success.
Interview with Builder Misha Munoz (Divine 1 Customs):
Q: What’s the reaction you’re getting here from the Matte Green Shoebox you built?
A: This is our second year here with this car and I’m super pumped. We’re getting a lot of great press, it’s being well received. And for me as a builder, I’ve never had a build be so well received, so this has been great.
Q: What’s the theme of the vehicle?
A: The owner was a pilot and so we catered this car to that part of his life. So we went with a sleek bomber style. Then the rest of it, the details and graphics all came with a lot of planning. The woman on the door resembles his wife, the bombs on the fender is the day, month, and year of his daughter’s birthday. The number on the back, 76, is his birth year. And the name of the car is “Forgiven” which is actually a company that he owns. So a lot of the car is built around his personal life that many others looking at it wouldn’t realize.
Q: What’s your reaction to Matte Paint and events like these.
A: Well we had a matte build here about 5 years ago, a matte red Chevy Bel Air. It wasn’t received well at all. With matte paints, they start to get degraded as time goes on. It wasn’t until some products became available for maintaining it that matte paint could last for more than a year along with all the touching these cars get at the show. We used Dr. Beasley’s and it’s making things a lot easier in the matte paint world.
But for many of the attendees, the “booth professionals” are the dime of the show. Also known as the booth models, these girls are everywhere (especially in south hall). These woman come to the show and please all the fellas with their charm and good looks. The idea is to attract leads and bring awareness to booths that otherwise may go unnoticed. It has become a highly desired feature of SEMA to get pictures taken with the models. As it happens, although the ratio is completely skewed, it may be the highest concentration of highly attractive women they get to be around all year. And yes, they are that good looking.
Interview with Stevie Lynn w/ WD-40:
Q: These are long days, have you been here all day every day?
A: Yes, started Tuesday and have been going 8 hours a day every day.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I’m exhausted. It’s been a long show, long time on my feet, but I’ve been getting sleep and not partying.
Q: How did you get connected to work SEMA this year?
A: WD-40 actually contacted me and hired me to work for them.
Q: What’s the best part of working here at SEMA?
A: Seeing all the muscle cars. I’m a muscle car girl. I’ve gotten a little time to walk around, but not a lot.
Q: What’s the worst part?
A: The floor! My feet hurt, and the floor is really trippy! Ha
Q: Would you come back next year knowing how exhausted you are?
A: I’d definitely come back. I hope to be here with WD-40, but we’ll see.
Between Days at the Show
When five o’clock hits and the lady over the intercom signs on and says, “Attention SEMA, Day ‘1’ of the SEMA Show is now over.” it brings a huge sign of relief to everyone exhibiting. We can pack up the booth. Hide the valuables, lock the podium, and join the herd to the monorail and cabs to get back to our hotels.
Eating is next, picking a restaurant out of the slew available is one obstacle to overcome. What to eat, drink, and more importantly how big is your drink is the next obstacle. You’re in “Sin City”,
it’s hard to deny a drink, and after a long day, it’s the best thing that touches your lips. Over dinner and drinks, talking stories from the day, and shop and strategy for the next is a regular. After all, it is a business trip. So maybe you cap it off with a visit with others in your field to talk for a bit. I know for us, we got to hang out with some very notable names, including Renny Doyle and Larry Kosilla.
At the conclusion of dinner and a few good laughs, the decision then lies on the desire for a warm comfy bed…or live like you’re in Vegas and hit the craps tables. I’ll leave that decision up to you. But they both have their pros and cons and no matter the choice, time is not wasted.
Then you wake up in the morning, get down to the monorail, and slide back into position for another day. The show is great. It’s tiring, but it’s great. No matter what end of the spectrum you fall, whether a big booth exhibitor or a small one, a visitor, model, or car owner, the show has something for every car enthusiast. For only one week out of the year for one of the biggest car shows in the world, grit your teeth, massage your feet, check out some cool gear and go home and catch up on some sleep.