Over its 40-year history, SEMA - short for Specialty Equipment Market Association - has had four names but always the same initials. Whether the group represents the "aftermarket" or "specialty market" industry has been a matter of some confusion, but Carl Sheffer, a SEMA vice president, has found a way around that. "When people ask me what I do to make a buck," he told a group of Automotive News reporters last week, "I tell them I work for Toys "R" Us for big boys."
TIRELESS PURSUIT OF LOVE - One great-grandson, Bill Ford, went on to become the CEO of Ford Motor Co., but you may not be aware that another of Harvey Firestone's great-grandsons, Andrew Firestone, is enjoying some fame as well. Andrew Firestone, 27, is the centerpiece of the ABC-TV show "The Bachelor." The show's purpose: To get a bachelor to choose his future wife from female contestants who appear on the show.
A ROSE IS A ROSE ... Westerners trying to penetrate China's booming auto market might rue the day Canton's name changed to the tongue-testing Guangdong, but Toyota Motor Corp. officials aren't about to let linguistic problems slow them down. At a press conference celebrating a link with China's FAW Group, Toyota President Fujio Cho got around the intricacies of Chinese pronunciations the easy way: by ignoring them. Cho simply used the Japanese pronunciations for the Chinese characters used in his counterparts' names. Thus, he introduced FAW President Zhu Yanfeng as "Jiku Enpuu," and Director Xu Xianping as "Kyo Kenpei."
ON THE HOME FRONT - The Houston Automobile Dealers Association is giving military families a break while troops remain in Iraq. Families of active duty military personnel can get up to $500 in free service through May if their vehicles need repairs. The association's chairman, Bill Smith of Russell & Smith Ford-Honda, says he hopes the program "will serve as an inspiration to other area businesses and associations in the Houston area to make similar offers to help out military families."
LEARNING FROM NISSAN - As of the middle of last week, more than 87,000 people had applied for jobs at Nissan Motor Co.'s new plant in Canton, Miss. When the plant - which doesn't begin operation until next month - reaches full capacity, it will employ about 5,300 people. U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., told the Associated Press that the plant is going to have a "cultural effect" on the state. How? "Mississippians will be better workers as a result of what we learn from and what we see at the Nissan plant."