Volume 9, Issue 1                        January/February 2005

Sensory Overload
SEMA 2004 Offers Something for Everyone
by Brigid O'Leary

The five senses are: hearing, touch, taste and smell. Every one of them was put to use—if not overwhelmed—at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Aftermarket (SEMA) Show 2004 in Las Vegas in November. 

Taking over both the north and south halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center November 2-4, 2004, the SEMA show utilized more than 1 million square feet of the facility (including two parking lots) to bring together car aficionados from across the globe. Not only were there more than 115,000 attendees at the show, but nearly 10,000 exhibitors signed up for booth space, using every bit of what they had.

Mile Upon Mile
With so many exhibitors and marketing venues, the show was organized into 11 seemingly endless sections. The restyling section alone sported more than 180 exhibitors, including 20 window film and film-related booths, many grouped in close proximity to one another, which some attendees found helpful.

“I was pleased to see the window film companies grouped together so you didn’t have to run all over the world to find them,” said Gary Clark, a window film dealer from San Ramon, Calif. who was attending his ninth consecutive SEMA show. “It was great to have them localized … it made greater use of time.”

Some of the film companies, such as Moonraker Films, came with their current line-up of products, anticipating new launches in the future. Others brought new aspects of their companies, from product lines to company images and new booth set-ups. For more information on new products featured at the SEMA show, see Noteworthy on page 10-13.

A Makeover Story
Call it Extreme Makeover: Company Story. Two window film giants, Madico and Johnson Window Films both entered the SEMA arena with plans for their respective booths to be different—not only from one another and the rest of the competition—but also from anything they had ever displayed before.

The Madico booth, decked out in orange and blue, was accented with lots of chrome. The sleek, streamlined-look accented both new products and the company’s news that it has entered into a partnership with Folia Tec, a European company that will enable Madico to expand its sales throughout Europe as part of the automotive aftermarket accessory market. Though Madico products will be marketed under the Folia Tec name in Europe, products by the German company will bear the name “Folia Tec by Madico” for sales within the United States.

“We’re capitalizing on that energy and strength that Michael [Bohm, managing director of Folia Tec] has created and bringing it to the United States,” said Tom Niziolek, Madico marketing director.

Madico also partnered with other companies, such as BASF, to create some of the concept and display cars at the show. 

Meanwhile, just across the aisle, Johnson Window Films went for the laid-back approach, appealing to visitors with an array of Vegas style games that included a wheel of fortune, black jack and a craps table at which attendees could win prizes, including free rolls of window film.

Offering refreshments and snacks, Johnson also had a new model Volkswagen Bug that was used for demonstrations about tint-applications. Marketing director Cody Forbes indicated that the company was not at the SEMA show to make a particularly hard push for sales, and was seeking a more “laid-back,” casual image. Adding to the atmosphere in the Johnson booth was another sort of demonstration the company used to show the versatility of film: a window with a caricature of George W. Bush and John Kerry made of different types of film, in honor of the presidential election that took place that same week.

Commonwealth Laminating and Coating debuted its new booth this year, along with a new Carbon Series film for vehicles. Simple but striking, the SunTek booth consisted of a large company sign and a car tinted with the Carbon film. The film, which boasts no metal layers, is factory died and comes with a lifetime warranty against fading.

New Faces
Not all window film companies were debuting new products; some were debuting themselves at the show and getting the word out about their products and services.

Capitalizing on the size and international breadth of SEMA, Haeuei Enterprise exhibited for the first time and brought its Ray-Shield line for heat reduction. The 25-year-old Singaporean company deals in automotive film, as well as architectural, safety and security films and slitting machines, and used the SEMA show as an opportunity to build name recognition and further develop its retail arm. Proprietor K. H. Poon was one of six international members of the International Window Film Association to take the accreditation testing offered by the association during the show.

Hanita Tek, the New Berlin, Wis.-based North American arm of Israeli company Hanita Coatings and a joint venture between Hanita Coatings and Tekra Corp. (a North American graphic arts company) also exhibited at SEMA for the first time. Distributing to New England under Sydlin Inc. and in the west as Starco Distributing, Hanita Tek imports Hanita Coating from Israel through New York, with expansion plans for the near future.

New not only to SEMA but also to the industry, in a way, was Tint Tek 20/20, a window film cutting software company out of Ontario. Until recently, the Tint Tek system was available to the industry only through CPFilms, but with the exclusive contract expiring the software company is making a push to get its name and available products out on the market. Though the company already has hundreds of customers, many through the contract with CPFilms, it is looking to expand its customer base by selling directly to tint shops and car dealerships, which company representatives opine will buy the paint protection cutting software.

Old Favorites
There were plenty of familiar faces at SEMA, as well. Donning purple shirts to help promote its LlumaStar® technology that is designed to keep film from turning purple, the CPFilms representatives gave demonstrations on both the application of window film and the cutting thereof (using window film cutting software and equipment).

Protect Gard was also on hand to market not only its film but its ability to have all orders be factory direct and delivered in two days. The company, which has been operational under the Protect Gard brand name for six years, sells worldwide with clients in Australia, Europe and South America.

Window film being only part of what 3M offers, the company had many a representative on hand to discuss the different aspects of the automotive division, while Performance Tools Distributing used its time and booth space to promote its new 52-page catalog of tools and equipment.

Sporting orange and blue, staff members from Film Technologies International (FTI) put the second story mezzanine platform at its booth to good use, meeting with customers on the upper level while promoting company products to passersby on the lower level. One of those passers-by was Franz Hyland, winner of the 2004 International Window Film Tint-Off, who was treated like a star in his own right as he was the face of FTI print ads immediately following the Tint-Off.

Not to be left out, Global Window Films, Bekaert and Marko Tack were all well represented at SEMA, bringing new products and outlooks on the industry to the show and courting prospective buyers with total-package image and information, while Glasscapes, the punched-hole vinyl company that markets the scenic backlite decorations had its own niche in a completely different hall from the window film industry.

Listen Up!
Let’s not forget the seminars. As an alternative to all the trappings that make SEMA—for those seeking to learn and understand as well as see and experience—there was an extensive seminar tract offering topics that run the gamut from conquering workplace stress to working the web (and making it work for you) and developing a working relationship with the media.

The seminars were well attended; according to show management, several thousand attendees took advantage of the additional learning opportunities. Actual attendance numbers varied according to the topic, of course; some sessions drew dozens of people while others, more general topics drew crowds numbering in the hundreds. At press time, the SEMA show management was still tallying the official numbers for attendees to each seminar and the show as a whole.

See Ya Next Year!
As the show wound down, the audio equipment booths turned off the bass, the companies manufacturing and selling neons unplugged their lights and the popcorn machine at one of the technology booths stopped popping, yet SEMA was SEMA to the very end. 

“There is nowhere else to go … that even comes close to SEMA to see what’s on the cutting edge of the market,” said George Lyons, an auto dealer from Erie, Pa., who was at his third SEMA show in five years. “SEMA does a great job covering everything you’re looking for. For a dealer or shop that is interested in or a customer of some of these products, there is no amount of reading in any amount of places, even on the internet, that could tell you everything you want to know like walking the floor for a day or two, though its’ becoming increasingly harder to cover it in just a day or two.”

Clark echoed Lyons’ sentiment on the size and scope of SEMA.

“It takes the whole week. It’s pretty grueling; there’s so much ground to cover and that’s really hard to do in two days. I think if someone wants to really maximize the show they should come for the whole week,” said Clark, encouraging those who have not attended to do so. “Someone who’s never been the show and is in the industry needs to go because of the magnitude and the sheer amount of things to learn. Just bring your walking shoes and try to get a hotel that is close by.”

Now the industry—all those who were represented and those who will be in the future—have another year to wait before experiencing it all again.                                                                                                                           WF

Brigid O’Leary is the editor of Window Film magazine.

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