Eric Grant, SEMA’s first executive director and member of the SEMA Hall of Fame, passed away on Dec. 23.
Grant’s contributions to and impact on the specialty-equipment industry are not based on producing performance parts or increasing vehicle speed, but his importance to the growth of the automotive aftermarket and SEMA’s early years cannot be disputed. In the ’50s and ’60s, local, state and federal governments were increasingly regulating emissions and vehicle performance parts to address air quality and safety concerns. The aftermarket felt threatened, and yet the industry surprisingly tapped one of the most ardent regulators to lead SEMA. That was Grant. He turned out to be the right man for the job at exactly the right time, ushering in a period of tremendous association growth. As executive director, he was instrumental in changing the name of what was then known as the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association to the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association. A bylaws change also opened SEMA to the entire range of aftermarket businesses, from manufacturers to distributors and from retailers to service providers. (That inclusiveness would eventually lead to the organization’s Specialty Equipment Market Association moniker, which is still in use today.) Source: SEMA eNews