By Josh Burns
In what has become a tradition for the SEMA show each year, the New Product Breakfast was held this morning at the Las Vegas Hilton just prior to the opening of the show. The event serves as a kickoff just prior to the official opening of the show, and it also awards the most cutting-edge automotive products either on the market or about to hit the market.
Master of Ceremonies Dave McClelland joked that while today is clearly an important for our Nation in terms of the Presidential election, it is also an important day for the automotive industry. As he said, apparently not everyone has been reading the newspaper and watching TV, as we’re supposed to be in an economic downslide though the event doesn’t seem to reflect that sentiment.
SEMA Chairman of the Board Jim Cozzie spoke before the awards were announced, noting that over 2,000 new products were submitted for consideration. He also explained how popular this awards breakfast has become, as only roughly 300 people attended the first breakfast while nearly 2,000 were present today.
The guest speaker for the event was Ryan Friedlinghaus, owner and CEO of West Coast Customs. Friedlinghaus exemplifies a great automotive success story, as he started his company about 15 years ago with a $5,000 loan from his grandfather. He credits hard work, ingenuity and keeping focus for growing West Coast Customs, which was represented by Friedlinghaus and 11 of his shop employees on stage, to the solid brand that it is today. When MC McClelland asked him what his grandfather would think of his accomplishments, Friedlinghaus emotionally responded, “I think so. He was probably one of my biggest supporters, and I think he’d be really proud.”
After everyone was settled and was full with free breakfast, the awards were announced. Some of the noteworthy new products for the show included:
Best New Performance Racing Products: Lithium XS Battery by XS Power, a lightweight lithium battery from a first-time exhibitor at the event.
Best New Off-Road 4-Wheel-Drive Product: LIFTmachine Adjustable Leveling Kit by ProRyde, which is the first on-vehicle adjustable leveling kit.
Best New Pickup/SUV/Van Product: 6.4L Super Air Scoop by BD Diesel Performance.
Best New Exterior Accessory Product: BedTred by BedRug by Wise, which is like a spray-in bed liner but installs like a slide-in liner.