SEMA News - Person of the Year Interviews

Sara Morosan - 2021 SEMA Person of the Year

The return of the SEMA Show to Las Vegas this past November was historic in so many ways. One of the week's high points was the renewed gathering of 2,500 industry professionals at the in-person SEMA Industry Awards Banquet on Thursday evening, November 4. The event featured award presentations for SEMA Manufacturer of the Year, Warehouse Distributor of the Year, Gen-III Innovator of the Year, and accolades for the 2021 inductees to the SEMA Hall of Fame. But the capstone to the annual ceremony is always the SEMA Person of the Year Award, and for 2021, that honor went to Sara Morosan of LGE-CTS Motorsports

The Person of the Year Award is one of the association's most prestigious recognitions. Beyond any personal or professional achievements, the award celebrates an individual who embodies service and dedication to the automotive specialty-equipment industry for the benefit of SEMA-member companies and the entire aftermarket.

"SEMA is proud to recognize Sara Morosan as our 2021 Person of the Year," said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. "The goal of our association is to ensure that all our businesses succeed and prosper, and Sara's spirit of volunteerism on behalf of SEMA and the industry is truly exceptional. Sara's service on several SEMA councils and initiatives, including SEMA Cares, has touched so many people, businesses and industry sectors. She exemplifies the passion and leadership that SEMA stands for."

Myles Kovacs - 2020 SEMA Person of the Year

Among the many honors announced each year at the SEMA Industry Awards Ceremony, the Person of the Year award is perhaps the most prestigious. Beyond any personal or professional achievements, the award recognizes an individual who embodies service and dedication to the specialty-equipment industry for the benefit of the entire aftermarket. For 2020, the association named DUB Magazine Co-founder Myles Kovacs recipient of this honor.

The Person of the Year Award typically is presented during the SEMA Week industry banquet in Las Vegas. However, 2020 being an unconventional year, the ceremonies moved online as part of the SEMA360 trade event, premiering on the SEMA YouTube Channel on Thursday evening, November 5. During the video production, Kovacs accepted the award from the DUB headquarters in Santa Fe Springs, California, surrounded by family, friends and team members.

"SEMA is proud to recognize Myles Kovacs as our 2020 Person of the Year," said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. "The goal of our association is to help SEMA businesses succeed and prosper, and Myles' ongoing volunteerism on behalf of SEMA and our members has done much to accomplish that goal. His career within the industry, on the SEMA Board of Directors and in a variety of other roles has been one of passion and leadership. Just as importantly, he has been generous in giving back to others and sharing what he has learned while pursuing his dreams."

Dan Kahn - 2019 SEMA Person of the Year

"SEMA is proud to recognize Dan Kahn as our 2019 Person of the Year," said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. "The goal of our association is to ensure that all of our businesses succeed and prosper, and Dan's dedication on behalf of SEMA in service to our industry members is both exemplary and inspiring. His work on the SEMA Board of Directors and within the industry at large reflects the innovation, leadership, professionalism and passion that continue to drive the specialty-equipment aftermarket forward."

Melanie White - 2018 SEMA Person of the Year

Among the several distinguished honors bestowed at the annual SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet, the Person of the Year award stands as perhaps the most prestigious. More than their own personal or career achievements, individuals who have received the award were selected in recognition of their tremendous service and contributions to the industry in advancing the success of the entire marketplace. At the recent 2018 SEMA Show ceremonies held in Las Vegas on Thursday night, November 1, the association named Melanie White of Hellwig Products as its 2018 Person of the Year.

John Johnson - 2017 SEMA Person of the Year

You could say that John Johnson’s service to SEMA and the automotive specialty-equipment industry has been “by the numbers.” Hailing from The Spartan Group (TSG) and the industry’s financial side, he has been a significant force in shaping SEMA’s strategy and fiscal discipline. In fact, Johnson led a transformation in the association’s financial reporting to its Board of Directors, helping SEMA staff improve visibility across business units and programs.

Tim Martin - 2016 SEMA Person of the Year

The core mission of SEMA is to help its members succeed and prosper, and a spirit of volunteerism permeates that mission. To grow the automotive specialty-equipment industry and address the broad range of issues facing association members, SEMA continues to rely on the vision and leadership of dedicated individuals from every industry segment who give freely of their time and energy for the benefit of all. In that spirit each year, SEMA bestows its highest honor—the Person of the Year Award—on an individual who embodies the association’s mission. For 2016, that person is Tim Martin of K&N Engineering.

Kathryn Reinhardt - 2015 SEMA Person of the Year

It takes dedication, hard work and drive to build and grow an automotive specialty-equipment business. Even more so to grow an entire industry. Yet to help its members succeed and prosper, SEMA relies on individuals from every industry segment to step forward and bring their own vision and initiative. Consequently, it seems only fitting once a year to celebrate an individual whose contributions best embody this SEMA mission. For 2015, that individual is Kathryn Reinhardt of MagnaFlow, who found herself named SEMA Person of the Year at the recent 2015 SEMA Show Industry Banquet in Las Vegas.

The award is among the trade association’s highest honors and recognizes the recipient’s outstanding contributions to the specialty-equipment industry over a yearlong period. For consideration, an honoree must work in a SEMA-member company and exhibit professionalism, service and integrity as well as an ethic that helps propel the industry forward.

“If you want to better yourself, you have to better your surroundings, and that’s how I feel about the industry,” reflected Reinhardt after receiving the award. “I can’t grow unless I help the industry grow, too. Being an advocate for this industry is easy because it’s something I love dearly. It’s a part of me that I can’t tune out.

“Honestly, I am so honored and humbled. I know this award isn’t given out lightly. There are so many amazing, powerful, hardworking, dynamic people in this industry who deserve this award. For me to be considered, and now a recipient? That is truly something I cherish.”

Rich Barsamian - 2014 SEMA Person of the Year

Over the course of his career, Rich Barsamian has forged an impressive list of accomplishments while working for some of the industry’s most recognized companies, including Grant, Edelbrock, GT Performance Products and Advanced Clutch Technology. Along the way, he has also served on SEMA select committees for the Young Executive Network (YEN), the Motorsports Parts Manufacturer Council (MPMC), the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) and the SEMA Scholarship Committee.

His dedication to these and other initiatives has earned him numerous accolades, including the YEN Executive of the Year award, the YEN Vanguard award, and the 2011 Performance Warehouse Association Person of the Year award. Now he can add the 2014 SEMA Person of the Year award to his many achievements, having received the honor at the recent 2014 SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet in Las Vegas.

“I am so grateful and humbled by this award,” said Barsamian, who recently returned to Advanced Clutch Technology as its vice president of sales and marketing. “It is very surreal. Anyone who knows me knows that I could talk to a wall even if it wouldn’t listen to me. But when they called my name at the ceremony, I was speechless.”

George Lathouris - 2013 SEMA Person of the Year

George Lathouris of Keystone Automotive Operations was named the 2013 SEMA Person of the Year. The award was presented to Lathouris—a 36-year marketing veteran and current senior category manager for Keystone in Scranton, Pennsylvania—during the SEMA Industry Awards Banquet at the 2013 SEMA Show.

Lathouris began his career at American Speed Equipment in New York, working his way up to national sales and advertising manager. He opened warehouse distribution in Colorado for Dick Cepek in 1992 and became the company's purchasing manager in Los Angeles in 1994.

Throughout his career, Lathouris has been recognized by his peers as a mentor and one who leads by example. His ability to take off his company hat and focus on the greater needs of the industry at large has served him well through his two terms as Chairman of SEMA's Light-Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA). In addition to his contributions to LTAA, Lathouris has served on the SEMA Board Leadership Committee, develops and supports fundraising opportunities for SEMA Cares and is actively involved in the annual build days for the SEMA Pinewood Drag Races.

Marla Moore - 2012 SEMA Person of the Year

The SEMA Person of the Year Award ranks among the association’s most prestigious honors. For 2012, it was bestowed upon Marla Moore of Hypertech during the recent SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet, held Thursday, November 1, in Las Vegas. Moore, who is currently the chair of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN), has been involved with the specialty-equipment industry for more than three decades.

Although a barrier-breaking champion of women throughout her career, Moore’s commitment to the specialty-equipment market has inspired both genders. Ask around the industry and you’ll soon learn that she knows the high-performance world inside and out. Thanks also to a keen understanding of consumers, she is especially recognized by peers as a skilled advertising leader.

John Menzler - 2011 SEMA Person of the Year

SEMA presented John Menzler of the COMP Performance Group with the 2011 Person of the Year Award at the SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. As a long-time SEMA member, HRIA Select Committee member and mentor to many in the industry, he received ringing applause as Banquet emcee Dave McClelland announced to a packed house, "Congratulations, John!"

McClelland also took time to highlight Menzler's contributions to the industry, making it clear that his compassion and advice helped solve problems both in his work at Comp Performance and in his numerous volunteer projects.

"(Menzler) is quick to offer advice and guidance to anyone who needs it," said McClelland. "Helping others bring their ideas alive is a common thread running through his active involvement in SEMA councils and committees and in his mentoring and volunteer work, such as during this year’s Childhelp and Victory Junction Pinewood drag race."

Mike Spagnola - 2010 SEMA Person of the Year

SEMA presented Mike Spagnola, founder and president of Street Scene Equipment and long-time SEMA member, with the 2010 Person of the Year Award at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

"I've long considered myself lucky to work in an industry I love and serve as an advocate for issues that have such a tremendous impact on the future of the automotive aftermarket," said Mike Spagnola. “Being recognized by my peers, many of whom I respect and feel fortunate to have worked with, is one of the greatest honors I could ever receive.”

Spagnola has been involved in the specialty-equipment industry for more than 30 years, having worked in both manufacturing and distribution. He is known for his understanding of the importance of collaboration within the specialty-equipment industry based on his willingness to assist magazines and others in the industry build project cars.

Doug Evans - 2009 SEMA Person of the Year

SEMA named Doug Evans, senior vice president of performance automotive at Source Interlink Media, as the 2009 SEMA Person of the Year, recognizing his dedication and legislative activism in support of the specialty-equipment industry. Evans was presented the award during the 2009 SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet in Las Vegas.

Evans is an active member of the SEMA Board of Directors and has served three consecutive terms on the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) Select Committee. He has also served on the SEMA Political Action Committee and has been a member of the SEMA Executive Committee.

Legislative issues are at the forefront of his activism, and he is in a unique position to disseminate SEMA Action Network (SAN) issues to enthusiasts to get them to respond swiftly and reach out to their local politicians to protect their hobby. He also has established relationships with various U.S. Senate and House representatives who are friends of the specialty-equipment industry.