Currently as the President/COO of Coker Group, I oversee the twelve Coker brands and six operating companies including Coker Tire and Wheel Vintiques. My skills include strategic planning, international sales, product development and business development. I am based out of Chattanooga, TN, and also maintain an office in The City of Industry, CA.
Additionally I have held key elected positions and appointments including
Over the past 37 years I have worked for every type of business in our industry. I am one of the only candidates in the current SEMA election that has worked as a Warehouse Distributor, Retail Counterman, Manufacturer, Event promoter and as an Exporter of American-made goods. As a small business owner I know what it’s like to work long hours and sweat payroll and as the President of Coker Group I am deeply involved with manufacturing and distribution. I have spent my life in the multi-step distribution system, and know we are facing some challenges. Helping all SEMA Member companies face those challenges and succeed will be my #1 priority.
I grew up working in my father’s gas station in downtown Los Angeles, at the age of 10 pumping gas and turning wrenches. Each day, I watched Muscle cars and Hot Rods drive in and out and I knew at that moment, this is where my passion lied. I haven’t wavered since. When I was old enough to drive I started drag racing, and went to work at Service Center selling speed parts. While working as a manager for a Retail Speed Shop and Accessories Center I saw a need for an automotive export company and in 1987 my wife Rose and I, started our own company—Exports International—in our two-bedroom house in Gardena. We grew our business for 28 years and sold it in 2015.
I am passionate about the aftermarket and I have experienced the challenges faced by every business in our industry. I am prepared to focus that passion and experience on helping SEMA member companies succeed.
|2014 - Present||President/COO, Coker Group|
|2009 - 2014||Executive Vice President, Coker Group|
|1987 - 2015||President/CEO, Exports International LLC|
|1984 - 1987||Store Manager, Service Center|
|1981 - 1983||Hodlin Enterprise, Sales Manager|
|1978 - 1980||Counterman, Service Center|
|1974 - 1978||Service Station Attendant, my Father’s Gas Station|
The SEMA Show, one of the largest and most prestigious trade shows in the world, is still our #1 asset. The global recognition it has gained will enable us to take advantage of some very exciting propositions that will require skilled long range planning and strategic partnerships. Guiding it’s growth to insure the integrity and quality of the show is not compromised while it delivers opportunities for our members will continue to be a priority.
As an owner of a manufacturing company (SEMA Show Exhibitor) and distribution company (SEMA show Buyer) and being entrusted by the membership to serve twice as Chairman of the SEMA Show (SEMA Show organization) I have seen the vital role it plays in helping members. This experience provides a unique perspective in understanding what is important to provide to the membership at this incredible event.
The aging demographic of our industry is a major concern because it not only affects our future consumer base but also our workforce. Many of the 75 million baby boomers that are retiring are the heart and soul of our industry. We must now begin recruiting, building and grooming the next generations to sustain our industry and association's success. As a founding member of YEN and the Sport Compact Council (SCC) I have had the opportunity to help guide and develop the growth of the next generation of leaders.
We must expand upon SEMA’s education initiatives already in place and create a task force to study motivations and engagement methods for future generations. As businesses we must learn to embrace emerging vehicle technologies and new trends in the workplace in order to attract the bright minds that will ensure our future success.
Whether elected or not I will continue to support the outreach and education initiatives put in place by the current Board of Directors because it is vital to our future.
Automobile manufacturers continue to enhance vehicles with more and more complex technology. With the advancement of computer controls and alternative fuels comes a whole assortment of issues from government reform to technical properties. Historically our industry turns adversity and challenge into opportunities, and I suspect we will face some of our greatest challenges and produce our greatest opportunities in the near future.
In order for our members to continue to succeed and prosper, we must equip them with the knowledge, skills, and realistic business processes to keep pace with technology. I have partnered with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Isuzu on Corporate Vehicle Projects and utilized SEMA's Technology Transfer program within my business. I have the experience to lead SEMA’s role as the industry authority to confidently and carefully collaborate with the OE's to obtain continued access to emerging technical changes for our members.
Our products are being sought after around the globe and our industry will experience great growth as we expand sales globally. Along with this growth will be complex challenges in communication, export proficiency and intellectual property rights. I have 28 years of experience helping SEMA member companies overcome the overseas business challenges and understand how to export, import and manufacturer around the globe. It’s exciting to see how American car culture is expanding globally with great car shows like Mooneyes Yokohama and NHRA Australia. SEMA’s initiatives including the China Business Development Tour and the growing SEMA Middle East Development Conference in Dubai are imperative to introduce American brands to emerging markets and growing revenue for our member companies. This is an opportune time for our industry that requires experience and vision to keep us focused on growing our piece of the pie.
|1994||SEMA Young Executive of the Year|
|1998||Northwood University Education Award|
|2003||SEMA Chairman’s Service Award|
|2007||SEMA Person of the Year|
|2010||SEMA Businesswomen’s Network Athena Award|
|2013||SEMA Hall of Fame Inductee|
"I encourage you to vote for Wade Kawasaki for the position of SEMA Chair-elect. Wade has a management style that builds consensus, gets people engaged and excited to move forward. Combined with his industry experience, strong personal convictions and a true love for the industry that he helped to shape, Wade will be an excellent Chairman of the Board.”See Full Endorsement
"Wade is a visionary industry leader who understands the future of our industry, and I do not know anyone more passionate about our industry than Wade. He is a person of high integrity that can be counted on to do the right things for SEMA. Wade has been preparing for this position for his entire career and I am confident in saying that he is the right leader at the right time for SEMA. I respectfully ask you to consider casting your vote for our future by supporting Wade as your next SEMA Chairman.”See Full Endorsement
"I am personally urging you to vote for Wade Kawasaki for SEMA Chair-Elect. He is the rightchoice. Wade thinks for the industry as a whole and takes off his company hat time and time again to make decisions that will move our industry forward as a whole. It has been said that a leader lights a fire under people to motivate them, but a real leader “lights a fire inside people”…Please vote for Wade Kawasaki so that he can light that fire within our industry!”See Full Endorsement
"Wade Kawasaki is a man of integrity. He is a trusted, proven and tested leader. He is the ONLY candidate that has been honored with SEMA's highest awards SEMA's Young Executive of the Year, SEMA Chairman's Service Award, SEMA Person of the Year and most recently inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. We need trusted, proven and tested leadership to meet the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for our industry. Please join me in casting your all important vote for Wade Kawasaki.”See Full Endorsement
"I respect both candidates running for Chair Elect but I believe that Wade fully understands what's most important for all SEMA members and he's a leader that knows how to get things done. I've worked with Wade and served with him on the Board of Directors and he has always impressed me with his integrity, knowledge and experience. When it comes to the SEMA Chairman of the Board, I vote for experience. I'm voting for Wade Kawasaki.”See Full Endorsement
"Wade, like me, grew up in this industry, traveling, selling, shipping, manufacturing, racing, and running businesses with just a few people to hundreds. There is not a more capable guy in our Industry who has the integrity, wisdom, fortitude and leadership skills to lead our industry than Wade Kawasaki. Wade understands where he came from, who he is, and how he got where he is… which is a solid foundation for any leader. I encourage you to vote for Wade Kawasaki for Chair Elect of SEMA.”See Full Endorsement
"As an executive at Chrysler, I had the pleasure of working with many people and with SEMA for over ten years. Wade Kawasaki was always an asset when dealing with SEMA. He was instrumental in Chryslerfirst becoming involved in the data sharing program, now known as "Tech Transfer". Personally, I can't thank Wade enough for his leadership and support over the years. He has my full endorsement and support and would make a great SEMA Chairman. I encourage you to also support him.”See Full Endorsement
"I worked with Wade when I was on the SEMA BOD 2000-2004. He is a hard working, honest, straight forward leader. I haave nothing but good to say about him. Has worked in many aspects of our industry, and has dedicated much of his professional life to the cause. He has my strongest endorsement for your consideration for SEMA CHAIRMAN!”See Full Endorsement
"I personally have known Wade for many years and he has been involved In the industry in a very unique fashion; he has been a manufacturer, a distributor, and a rep… His experience and knowledge will enable him to lead the staff in an effective way to address the current problems that each of us face. The issues that threaten us today will require a chairman who’s broad knowledge of all of the segments of our industry can help SEMA to protect us from the threats that we face. In my opinion Wade is the right man for the job.”See Full Endorsement
"I'm supporting Wade Kawasaki (Wade Kawasaki for SEMA Chair) for Chairman of SEMA. Both candidates are excellent but I think Wade is the right person at the right time. Regardless of your choice, if you are a SEMA member, don't forget to vote.”See Full Endorsement
"I'm very excited to support Wade. Between our own Doug Evans coming into the helm with the chance to have Wade right behind him makes for the perfect 1-2 punch for progress!”See Full Endorsement
"Wade has my vote and support! You've done a great job for SEMA members and car guys for as long as I have known you (20 years?). Keep up the great work!”See Full Endorsement
"I've known Wade several years now and believe that his passion & knowledge of all aspects of SEMA, having been a buyer, retailer & manufacturer himself, is what we need as SEMA chair.”See Full Endorsement
"I would like to urge you to vote for Wade Kawasaki for chairman elect for the SEMA Board of Directors. I have watched Wade's volunteerism for SEMA make a difference throughout his career, have served with him on the SEMA Board, and know him to be a man of the highest integrity in both business dealings and his personal life. I am convinced he is the man for the job. He will have my vote and I hope he has yours.”See Full Endorsement
"Wade's "All IN" commitment to SEMA membership has been repeatedly acknowledged by the association with a long list of honors including SEMA Hall of Fame. He's also a true car guy and owns a '32 Ford roadster , '61 Chevy Impala, '64 El Camino, '70 GTO Judge, '70 Dodge Charger, '71 Porsche 911 T and a 2015 Jeep Rubicon. As a former member of the SEMA Board of Directors I recognize the skill and dedication required of our Chairman. We need a proven leader that wants to lead, and I honestly believe Wade is that guy. Wade knows business, Wade knows cars and Wade knows SEMA.”See Full Endorsement
"I've come to know Wade not only as a true Hot Rod guy, but also as a solid businessman in manufacturing specialty parts. Manufacturing remains the core of our industry, so for me a candidate with those credentials is important. I support Wade for Chairman of SEMA and I ask you to consider doing the same.”See Full Endorsement