Former President SEMA
Charles R. (Chuck) Blum, CAE, is today recognized as a prominent leader in the automotive aftermarket, the result of achievements throughout his career, which can be traced to old-fashioned hard work. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Chuck followed traditional educational patterns, and rounded out his formal education at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Soon after school, following service in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper, he entered the automotive aftermarket in sales, a beginning which would eventually develop into sales management positions. He served for 22 years at Keystone, working his way through the ranks to become vice president/sales and marketing. At that time Keystone was one of the most successful wheel companies in the aftermarket, in no small way the result of Chuck’s hard-driving and creative sales management techniques.
More than 10 years ago Chuck assumed the president’s position at SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. He did so armed with experience as a member of the SEMA Board of Directors, and he served a term as Chairman of the Board. In those days the SEMA universe of manufacturers and distributors was a small part of the overall aftermarket, but there were strong signals of growth and potential expansion. The SEMA Show was produced by an independent contractor in behalf of the association; the exposi-tion prospered, gaining in popularity as an important annual event in the aftermarket, but Chuck, as the new president, wanted more out of the show so that businesses served by SEMA would prosper as a result of additional benefits.
Under his guidance, the show was taken “in house,” produced by SEMA, and since that dramatic change, not only has the show’s growth been unprecedented, but so too has the association and the aftermarket segment it serves. The SEMA/AI Show is today regarded as the flagship trade exposition of the entire automotive aftermarket. Industry veterans agree it all came to pass under Chuck’s leadership, his management techniques, and a relentless pursuit of quality and service to the participating businesses and principals of the companies served, those whose ongoing successes can be traced, at least in part, to the productivity of the annual SEMA/AI Show.
It was Chuck, along with principals of MEMA and ASIA, who put together Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, the consolidation of aftermarket trade shows that results in the SEMA/AI Show and the APAA/Big I Show in Las Vegas at the same time. It is a historical achievement, showcasing for the world the vastness of the U.S. aftermarket industry.
In 1990, following months of study, Chuck “earned his stripes,” the Certified Association Executive honor, a title sought by principals of all associations. CAE, the acronym, is to association managers what MD is to the medical profession.
Chuck’s association management skills are reflected in the many and diverse services offered to SEMA members, and there is no denying that the efforts-and successes-of the association benefit the automotive aftermarket overall. From activities in the legislative and regulatory arena to foreign trade to unique member services, the association is at the forefront of activity. SEMA is looked upon and admired as a trendsetter association of the aftermarket.