CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) has announced that Wade Kawasaki, president and COO of the Coker Group, has been elected to chair-elect of the SEMA Board of Directors.
The first Asian American to receive this honor, he will serve two years as chair-elect and will become the chairman in 2017.
Founded in 1963, SEMA represents the $33 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,814 member companies, which is one of the largest groups of small businesses and job creators in the country. SEMA also produces the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, one of the largest trade shows in the world.
Kawasaki’s parents were born and raised in Hawaii and moved to California after they were married. His father owned a gas station in Los Angeles and at the age of 10, Wade started working there as an attendant. That’s when he found his passion for cars, and he has been devoted to the automotive industry ever since.
Over the past 37 years he has worked for every type of business in the industry, including manufacturing, warehousing distributor, and retail specializing in strategic planning, international sales, product development and business development.
“I am proud and humbled that I have been chosen to serve as the next SEMA chair-elect,” said
Kawasaki. “This campaign has been an amazing journey – I have met so many wonderful people, heard their stories, and learned about their businesses. A rising tide floats all boats – and it will be my mission as chair-elect and chairman to ensure the continued success of our industry.”
Kawasaki has been a SEMA member for more than 35 years and has been deeply involved with the organization. He has been elected or appointed to several key positions within the organization, including three consecutive terms on the Board of Directors, two consecutive terms as secretary/treasurer, and two consecutive terms as chairman of the Show Committee.
Additionally, Kawasaki was appointed by the U.S. secretary of commerce to APAC (Automotive Parts Advisory Council), a congressionally mandated committee focusing on auto parts trade in Asian markets, and served as chairman of the SEMA International Trade Committee.
His other SEMA involvements include being a member of the SEMA Show Long-Range Planning Task Force, a chairman of the National Management Conference, sponsor of the SEMA Show Prayer Breakfast, and a speaker/facilitator of multiple SEMA Show seminars. His hard work and dedication has been recognized with several industry awards. including SEMA’s Person of the Year, SEMA’s Chairman’s Service Award, SEMA’s Young Executive of the Year Award, and his induction into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I am passionate about the automotive aftermarket and I have experienced the challenges faced by every business in our industry,” Kawasaki declared. “I am prepared to focus that passion and experience on helping SEMA member companies succeed.”
Kawasaki has devoted his life to serving the automotive aftermarket and with his diverse experience he has a particular vision for growth in the industry. In his new position as chair-elect, his top priorities will be recruiting top new talent and attracting young customers to the aftermarket; growing business globally and meeting the challenges of communication, export proficiency, and intellectual property rights; guiding the growth of the SEMA Show; and navigating the complexities of an evolving distribution system.
As the president and COO of the Coker Group, he currently oversees the 12 Coker brands and six operating companies, including Coker Tire (www.coker.com), the world’s largest supplier of collector vehicle tires with distributors in more than 30 countries. Headquartered in both Chattanooga and City of Industry, the Coker Group manufactures wheels and tires.
For more information on SEMA, write to 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765; call (909) 610-2030; or visit www.sema.org.