Who is to blame for mediocre SEMA builds?

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), is the premier aftermarket automotive trade show in the United states. In 2017, the show attracted more than 70,000 spectators and showcased over 3,000 new products across 2,500 companies. SEMA advertises that being an exhibitor can improve a company’s yearly sales with the amount of exposure to the participants that flood the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

So why is this important?

It is no secret that many “careless” builds hit the floor every year at SEMA. Vehicles show up with missing parts, unfinished modifications, and sloppy work.

This is surprising for many reasons. The first reason is that SEMA approves which vehicles can enter the showroom floor as well as the outdoor exhibition spaces. Furthermore, the vehicles are screened prior to the event to even be allowed a space and then inspected by a manufacturer while entering Sema. Secondly, SEMA draws more than 70,000 industry related attendees. These attendees are looking at every one of these builds with a high level of critique. The companies associated with certain “sloppy” builds are going to be seen negatively. This can have a major effect on a company and even hurt the profitable sales year that SEMA boasts for those in attendance.


Who is to blame?

At first glance, it is easy to blame the builder or the shop for the careless work associated with the build. However, taking a deeper dive will shed some more light on this subject.

The term “SEMA-crunch” is a well-known saying regarding the trade show. The term refers to builders having major time constraints to finish vehicles attending the trade show. Almost every year, shops post about their SEMA crunch. Many have doubts that some vehicles will not make it to the show. Some builds, in fact, do not make it.

Having little time to finish projects certainly contributes to sloppy work. Most builds must be thrown together last second to make the SEMA deadline. This sloppy work doesn’t exactly live up to the SEMA quality all of us expect.



Posted by SEMA Trucks – Best of Show on Thursday, November 2, 2017

Why does it not add up?

Majority of these shops have experience building custom vehicles. Most of these shops know how long it takes to build these types of vehicles. So why are they running into so many problems? Why are they procrastinating these builds? We have seen these shops build high quality vehicles before, so what is going on?


The answer… the sponsors

That’s right. The sponsors. When a company wants a vehicle to sponsor their product, they want it in the best possible condition and on an eye-catching vehicle. The problem that most builders face is the sponsor sends out their product late in hopes that it will be in excellent condition when the vehicle rolls into SEMA. Most companies will not send products early because they do not want the product to have any defects when it reaches the show. Most of these companies know the dates of SEMA and wait to release new products and cause major time constraints for the builders who are showcasing these products on their builds.

Also, companies have trouble with production of new products. They are trying to produce massive amounts of prototypes in time for SEMA. This can cause late shipments of products. But again, they know the dates of Sema…

Companies attending SEMA have good reason to do this. Those who sponsor builds are trying to reduce wear on their products as much as possible, but at the expense of the builder. Shipping products late causes the builder to have to go into SEMA crunch mode. Even though, most shops can account for late product, it is normally affects the quality of the build. So what if you are a shop that is building over five vehicles for SEMA? It is hard to throw together five lift kits in a week before the show and expect them to be high quality.

However, there are shops who do not create high quality work. Whether they have all the parts shipped early or shipped late, the build will still not hold up to expectations. In that case, it is the builder’s fault.


So why do these companies paint a negative image for themselves?

This decision is difficult. They can ship product earlier in hopes that it still arrives at SEMA in excellent condition, or they can ship the product late causing the builder to have less time to build the vehicle for SEMA. They can release new products early, or they can release products just for SEMA. In doing this, these companies end up having their product installed carelessly or on a sloppy vehicle.