Leadership

Leadership

President/COO

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

  • SEMA Board of Directors, 3 consecutive terms
  • SEMA Secretary / Treasurer, 2 consecutive terms
  • Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors Governance Committee
  • Chairmen of the SEMA Show Committee 2 consecutive terms
  • Chairman of the SEMA International Trade Committee
  • SEMA Audit review and Compensation Committee
  • Founding member SEMA’s Political Action Committee President’s Club
  • SEMA Investment Committee
  • Appointed by the United States Secretary of Commerce to APAC
  • DUB Board of Directors
  • Strategic Leadership Alliance, Board of Directors
  • Governance Consultant for faith based institutions
Experience

Experience

Manufacturer, WD, Retailer

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

The SEMA Show

SEMA Show Chairman, Exhibitor and Buyer

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.

  • Chairmen of the SEMA Show Committee - 2 terms
  • Member of the “SEMA SHOW” Long Range Planning Task Force
  • Chairman of SEMA National Management Conference
  • Sponsor of the SEMA Show Prayer Breakfast
  • Speaker/Facilitator of multiple SEMA Show Seminars
  • DUB Show Tour 10-stop Nationwide
  • Coker Tire Shows
  • Exhibitor & Buyer At PRI
Youth and our Aging Demographics

Youth and our Aging Demographics

Founding Member of YEN, 1996 Young Executive of the Year

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.

  • An original founder of the Young Executives Network
  • 1996 SEMA Young Executive of the Year
  • Facilitated a YEN Long Range Plan for the SEMA Board of Directors
  • Served many years as a YEN advisor
  • Have 2 children, Tim and Alyssa, working in the industry
Emerging Vehicle Technology

Emerging Vehicle Technology

Knowledge and Skills to Keep Pace with Technology

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.

  • SEMA Long Range Planning / Future Technology Task Force Chairman
  • Successfully partnered with multiple OE’s on Vehicle Projects
Globalization

Globalization

The Passion and Experience to Lead Our Industry in the USA and Globally

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.

  • Chairman of the SEMA International Trade Committee
  • Appointed by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce Secretary to APAC (Automotive Parts Advisory Council) a Congressionally mandated Committee focusing on Auto Parts Trade in Asian Markets
  • Exhibitor at Trade Shows - Middle East Development Conference, Paace Automekanica, Tokyo Auto Salon, Frankfurt Auomekanica SEMA China Development Conference, Mooneyes Yokohama, NHRA Australia
  • SEMA spokesperson in Brazil, China and Australia
Recognition

Recognition

SEMA spokesperson in Brazil, China and Australia

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

Wade Kawasaki

2017

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