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With 5,000-plus members, SEMA looks ahead to challenges

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The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) added about 500 members in 2004, bringing its roster to more than 5,700 members.

SEMA's member retention rate over the last several years "has been in the 89% to 90% range," SEMA CEO and President Chris Kersting said during SEMA's "state of the union address" this afternoon. "Last year we were way over 90%."

He adds that SEMA is on track to add close to 500 members this year.

SEMA officials discussed a number of initiatives during the press conference:

Government affairs. "We've been successful in proposing legislation in many states that has been proactive for our members," says SEMA Chairman Corky Coker. "We must not become lackadaisical with our elected officials." SEMA created its own political action committee in 2004.

Warranties. SEMA has set up a "warranty task force" to address members' warranty concerns. The group recently met and counted among attendees "original equipment manufacturers, people from insurance agencies, car dealers, people from our industry who are experimenting with warranty programs" and others.

Education. "SEMA needs to improve education and awareness of" high-tech business technology that can help members.

Coker also disclosed that SEMA will hire an engineer this year "who will deal with Detroit on technical issues."

"As a general matter, the industry today is experiencing strong growth, and the same is true of (our) trade organization," says Kersting. "But we have challenges and opportunities."

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