SEMA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DR. JAMIE MEYER
I had very extensive training in the basic sciences, which lead to me earning my PhD. with Distinction in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the Syracuse college of medicine in 1997. I then worked an eight-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cincinnati. It was during this time that I had a parallel, automotive-focused, career in development as well. While carrying out a full NIH-funded research program, I was working for multiple drag racing sanctioning bodies (Fun Ford Weekend, World Ford Challenge, National Mustang Racers Association, National Muscle Car Association), moonlighting as a drag race announcer, and developing content as a freelance writer and photographer. Fast-forward ten years, and I had left science to focus fully on the high performance automotive industry. I began my career at General Motors as the product placement manager for the crate engine line of product.
Today, I am currently the Performance Parts Program Manager at General Motors where my job responsibilities include developing (from concept to production) the high-performance parts portfolio for all Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, and Buick vehicles. This work includes looking into the future portfolio of vehicles (some of them are only at the architecture phase) and identifying what parts our customers will be interested in, while maintaining profitability for GM. Our portfolio is dominated by exhaust tips, performance exhaust systems, cold air intakes, big brake kits, and suspension kits that improve ride height and/or handling. And, I work daily on future programs like our next generation full-sized truck and SUVs, Camaro, Cadillac V-series vehicles, and the next Corvette.
INDUSTRY LEADING INITIATIVES
I would like to think that every day at GM, I am shaping the history of the automotive industry. My unique input into our high-performance vehicles is to look for opportunities to allow for the architecture to be conducive to modification and personalization by the future owner. Just like the classic Chevrolets from the 50s and 60s, this ownership experience will help guarantee that future generations will want to buy our products.
My philanthropic work includes the foundation of MOMS Racing, a drag racing sanctioning body designed to introduce illegal street racers to the safer environment of the drag strip. When formed in 1994, heads-up street car racing wasn’t popular. This pre-dates the NMCA and NMRA by several years, and filled a gap for street cars that the NHRA had moved away from. I’m proud to say that MOMS Racing continues to this day. I am a long time member of the NHRA with a Competition License earned at the Frank Hawley Drag School in 2000. I have maintained this professional driver’s license to this day.
Professionally, I’ve been a member of the American Heart Association, and my scientific research was, at one time, funded by this association. I have spoken at several scientific councils in the past, and my two career paths merged at an AHA event in Detroit in 2012 where I presented “The Heart Versus the Race Engine” as a fun way to motivate folks to stay in shape.
I am also a Benefactor Level Life Member of the NRA. I mention this because of the obvious parallels between the high performance automotive industry and the firearms industry. They are both passionate communities, are heavily regulated, and have to fight daily to keep their freedoms.
I have had a patent issued to me early in my scientific career for identifying a cardiovascular therapeutic target. This work is still under study by a number of scientific teams and drug companies.
As a freelance writer and photographer, I have authored over 400 published feature articles in various automotive journals and websites. I was known for my tech features where I was able to showcase product from a number of SEMA member companies.
A patent was issued for my GM team in partnership with SEMA for the creation of the EROD line of crate engines. Briefly, SEMA came to me during my time as the marketing manager for the crate engine line of products from General Motors. They were looking for an emission-legal solution for an estimated 20 million cars in California. After consulting with our engineers, the result was the EROD line of crate engines, a creative solution for the increasing demands of the regulators. This program allowed me to work with such SEMA staff as Jim McFarland, Russ Deane, John Brueggaman, and the late Steve McDonald.
In addition to EROD, I have helped GM launch dozens of high performance parts and multiple version of high performance vehicles into the market. This work has included the launch of the LSX block – the foundation of many high performance variants of the now-timeless LS engine; multiple version of LS crate engines; the launch of the Supermatic line of crate transmissions for Chevrolet Performance; and the first ever “crate powertrain”.
I have been heavily involved in the marketing strategy (including social media strategy and traditional communications events) for the last two generations of Camaro, Corvette, full size truck and SUV, and a number of Cadillac products.
Over the last two years, I have been pushing internally to support GM releasing a line of superchargers for our production vehicles. Working with multiple companies from the high performance industry, we have already gone through Design, Marketing, Purchasing, Licensing, and several rounds of meetings with GM Powertrain.
Recently, I am very proud to have been involved with the newly formed Marketing Department at SAM Tech (samtech.edu), a trade school formed in 1985 for the training of high performance engine machining and assembly. The first series of High Performance Marketing seminars will begin in early 2018, where my staff and I will be offering fundamental teachings in marketing, communications, and advertising that is specific for the high performance industry – a first for a college of higher learning. This will be followed up by more in-depth classes in various marketing disciplines such as social media and advanced, automotive photography.
I am uniquely positioned to work with the high performance industry and spot trends that affect the members of SEMA – decades before they come to market. I’ve seen multiple sides of this industry. From a freelance journalist who used to sneak into SEMA and PRI, I have become the expert who controls the portfolio of performance parts for the largest automotive company in the world. I am a classically trained marketer, but, most recently, I’ve spent three years on the job learning the development, financing, and production side of the business. I believe that I am very well-rounded with a wide network of friends who will work, by my side to improve the reach and impact of the SEMA organization.
The industry issues that we will face in the next few years – electric propulsion, autonomous vehicles, and the coming greenhouse gas regulations – have me keenly interested in being a part of the SEMA leadership. These technological advances are so revolutionary that I don’t think we have faced anything like this in our lifetimes. I would be very dedicated to making sure the high performance industry is positioned to thrive during the transition.
I was on the core team of six people responsible for bringing the COPO Camaro back to market in 2011. This included the product description, marketing strategy, NHRA class placement, distribution, legal contract, sales for the first three years of production, and integration into the SEMA show and Barrett Jackson charity auction (AHA).
The EROD engine program was just a wonderful team effort that really spoke to the emission requirements while still delivering big horsepower. This project allowed me to develop a new respect for the team effort that the SEMA staff can bring to the industry.
My early involvement with the NMRA drag racing sanctioning body. Working with my good friend, Steve Wolcott, I was honored to be the first editor of Race Pages magazine, helped write the first rule book, and announced the first ten seasons of races.
In 1994, I formed MOMS Racing – a not-for-profit drag racing sanctioning body focused on introducing street racers to the safer confines of their local drag strip. This upstate New York organization is still very active.
In 2017, I held a series of meetings at GM where we invited the six biggest companies that manufacture calibration-tuning software for aftermarket vehicle applications. Coming software architecture will put their work at risk, and this was my attempt to bring them into GM and eventually offer them an opportunity to work with GM. While their work has been going on since 1985, this was the first time that GM had ever even acknowledged that they exist.
Every day, I help design and support high performance vehicles that the public won’t see for 5-10 years. For a high performance junky like me, it’s a dream come true.
The SEMA research data tells us that the aftermarket automotive industry continues to grow, and we can feel that on the street and in our sales reports. We are enjoying a very hot economy, Americans are reinvesting in America, and nothing is more classic American than the hot rod.
The opportunity at hand is how best to position the SEMA membership to take full advantage of this amazing economy, positive outlook on the hot rod culture, and the coming evolution of the automobile. We have already seen autonomous vehicles, ride sharing, connected vehicles, and electric vehicles (EV) have an impact on our market. More than just a headline, these coming technologies are poised to change the automotive aftermarket in ways that we don’t yet understand. For manufacturing experts, they must develop a strategy that supports their legacy products while increasing their investment in future technology.
The described opportunity is a direct result of people, and especially young people, having a lack of interest in cars in general. Of the threats that we face, I’m very concerned about our children simply having no passion toward cars. Ride sharing is decreasing the interest in personalizing a vehicle, and with that goes the main source of revenue for the SEMA body.
Constantly increasing regulatory changes threaten our industry. It is a daily struggle on the manufacturing side of this industry to keep within the very tight guidelines set for us. Exhaust systems, air intake systems, calibration changes, and power adders are heavily scrutinized. While SEMA (and the OEMs) have worked with CARB to develop a path to market, this process costs our industry millions of dollars in manpower, time, and lost revenue.
Another threat that I see is a fractured media base with multiple sources of content struggling to get attention. Meanwhile, the competition for attention (from other industries) has never been so intense. Finding a way to break through the clutter, and social feed, will help ensure a bright future for the SEMA membership.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Of the issues identified above, the coming industrial change caused by technology (autonomous vehicles, ride sharing, connected cars, EV) concerns me the most.
We are faced with both a cultural and technological change in the landscape of the automobile. This isn’t an evolutionary development (like fuel injection or an overdrive transmission), we are talking about the removal of the driver from the driving experience. The timeline of this transition is in question, and the complete adoption of this technology seems years away. However, as we slowly increase the distance between the driver/owner and the thrill of driving a car, the passion that fuels our industry is challenged. This passion has lead our constituents and our end consumers to modify the automobile for over 100 years.
The automotive aftermarket industry is well known as a very resourceful group of individual entrepreneurs. Since its beginning, the SEMA membership has been able to take a production car and rapidly evolve that platform. This culture of risk taking, excitement, and daring engineering will be needed to take advantage of the autonomous/ride sharing/EV movement. SEMA will need to invest in understanding these technologies and offer insights to our members.
We will need to work with the OEMs to anticipate what products are coming, identify customization potential, and quickly adapt. SEMA will need to study the projected timeline of each technology, propose when these changes will impact the industry, and help the SEMA members transition to this change
I have been fortunate to have seen SEMA at its best on several occasions as an attendee of 15 SEMA trade shows. I have also seen SEMA in action as a lobbying group as part of the EROD initiative – a team effort between SEMA lobbyists, SEMA legal staff, and GM performance engineering.
The SEMA board must pursue those initiatives that threaten our industry. Where SEMA has done well was with the recent work to protect the future of sportsman racing by initiating the RPM Act. I think SEMA should put even more emphasis into watching, reporting, and fighting any entity (the EPA in this example) that threatens our industry. Since the firearms industry and the aftermarket automotive industries close in size, the lobbying work that the NRA has done for decades could serve as a model of how to fight legislature such as the EPA’s attack on our sportsman racecars.
I am concerned that SEMA may be spread too thin. I suggest that the board commissions a study to define every initiative that is currently being worked on; evaluate how effective that initiative is at achieving SEMA’s mission statement; and then discontinue all those initiatives that do not serve the SEMA constituents. We need to clearly define what SEMA stands for and ensure that the board focuses all activities on reaching that goal.
The acquisition of PRI by SEMA was a brilliant move on many fronts. The excitement that PRI brings to the constituents is real and palpable. The SEMA board should add more support for PRI and the motorsports industry that it represents.
SEMA needs to continue to take advantage of every opportunity for youth engagement. This must be a focus. We must develop more “selfie moments” for our youngest members to share and, therefore, become advocates and future leaders for our industry.
Founder of MOMS Racing
A Non Profit Heads Up Pro Tree Drag Racing Organization
’95 – ‘08
Ph.D. with Distinction in Anatomy and Cell Biology
SUNY Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, NY
'97 - '05
Product Integration Specialist
GM Performance Parts
’11 – ‘15
'94 - Present
Contributing Editor & Photographer
Popular Hot Rodding, Hot Rod, Vette, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
’06 – ‘11
Performance Marketing Manager, Strategy & Planning
Fortify our performance rights, engage our youth, and prepare a bright future for the automotive aftermarket.
Thank you for your support.