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by Casey Neeley
November 10th, 2010

I Survived SEMA

I’m thinking of making a t-shirt to wear to window film industry events that simply says, “I survived SEMA.” The show was exciting, overwhelming and very educational for me. I learned much about different window film manufacturers and I got to spend some time with installers talking about their thoughts on the industry and products. Since returning home I’ve been able to reflect back on the show and narrow it down to the top five things I learned at SEMA.

5. There is no Dr. Scholl’s booth.
When I say my feet hurt at SEMA that is the understatement of the year. I seriously thought they would fall off by the end of the week. I kept an eye out for a Dr. Scholl’s booth, but my only solace ended up being a nurse in the first aid station who offered me a couple of band-aids. I learned quickly that there are no shoes that will make walking back and forth from the north to the south hall every single day easier. My feet, blistered and covered in band-aid adhesive, are finally just now getting back to normal. Note to self: instead of an extra pair of shoes, bring an extra pair of feet with me next year.

4. Save your energy.
The whole country is in the midst of an energy-savings craze. While this is good news for our great-grandchildren it’s also exciting news for the window film industry. Almost every booth said that the industry is continuing to head in the direction of energy efficiency. People want to save money, protect their belongings and promote a healthy planet, and making their homes and vehicles as energy efficient as possible has become a top priority. Everyone seems to expect concerns over energy efficiency to continue to grow and become more important to manufacturers, dealers and consumers.

3. Is this real life?
In my blog before the SEMA Show I talked about not knowing what to expect. Little did I know that I was about to enter an alternate universe where the cars are insanely expensive, the girls unarguably beautiful, and the line for the men’s bathroom much longer than the line for the ladies’ room. There were times throughout the week that I had to remind myself that SEMA, while glittering with its shiny cars and flashy accessories, was not everyday real life, especially for your average window film installer. Making the most out of the week seemed to be everyone’s goal because they knew this was a one-time opportunity. When I stepped off the plane in Virginia I was shot back to reality at the sight of a good old beater car, instead of a shiny, new, lime green Ford Mustang, and a long line at the ladies’ room. I suppose it’s time to get back to reality.

2. Just tell me the truth.
I spent quite a bit of time chatting with window film installers and asking them about their SEMA experience. One of these installers gave me food for thought. He told me that while he was visiting window film booths he asked the same question over and over, “what makes your film/product better than the others?” He shared that often he was unable to get a straight answer. The lesson here is that these window film shops and their installers don’t want a sales pitch. They just want the facts and a solid, reliable product.

1. Its all about “PPF.”
Paint protection film was the hit of the SEMA Show for the window film industry. Nearly every single window film booth was displaying a variety of paint protection film and as soon as a demo started the crowds would form. Paint protection film, or “PPF” as the industry affectionately calls it, has proved to be a great add-on for tinting shops. Technicians’ familiarity with film and experience installing gives them a leg up in training and the crowds around the demos proved that the interest is there. Watching the paint protection demos didn’t feel that different from observing an actual window film or tint installation. Granted, there are differences like bumpers and rounded edges, but it seems like a trade that a tinter could pick up easily. After seeing the amount of PPF at the show I am expecting to see more installers and tinters adding PPF to their repertoire.

What did you learn at SEMA? E-mail khodge@glass.com to share your experience.

On a side note, you can expect a new episode of FILM’d in the next few weeks and be sure to check out our SEMA Show video reports from the show last week.

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3 comments
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  1. Katie,

    It was terrific to meet you. After 25 years of SEMA it is always refreshing to hear what a newbie thinks of the experience. I love your article on the event. Note to self about feet and Dr. Scholl’s/if possible bring a pair of rubber soled slippers. They can take on the show, keep your feet from blistering and are always an attention getter. When working a show, I always bring at least on pair and I am always thankful that I do.

    Have a great day. I look forward to speaking with you soon!
    Donna

  2. Katie,

    I enjoyed sharing a booth next to yours during the show. +1 on brining an extra pair of feet for SEMA.

    Eric

  3. [...] is talking about this product and the amazing things you can do with it. As I mentioned in my last blog, paint protection film was all over the SEMA show and there were significantly more demonstrations [...]

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