Representatives from 11 specialty auto car equipment companies based in California are traveling to Dubai this weekend, hoping to export some of the state's signature car culture products to new markets in the Middle East.
Most of the companies are manufacturers of specialty equipment designed to boost the performance of stock cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. Some of the products enhance the experience of owning a car. Others help protect them.
The companies are Coverking, located in Anaheim, EBay Motors of San Jose, Gibson Performance Exhaust of Corona, Injen Technology of Pomona K&N Engineering Inc. of Riverside, and McLeod Racing of Placentia.
Others are Radflo Suspension Technology of Fountain Valley, Transamerica Wholesale of Compton, Prolong Super Lubricants of Irvine, Smart Inc. of Inglewood, and World Motorsports of Torrance.
They are part of a larger contingent of 41 companies on the trip that are members of SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Assn. SEMA represents more than 6,500 companies in the $30-billion automobile aftermarket industry.
In 2011, SEMA was one of five participants of the U.S. Commerce Department's Market Development Cooperator Program for 2011.
As part of the program, SEMA received $500,000 in matching funds for 2011 to 2014 to support U.S. manufacturers that export specialty automotive products to emerging international markets.
It's part of Presdient Obama's National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by 2014.
Some SEMA members already have thriving overseas markets, but others haven't even begun to test international waters, said Peter MacGillivray, vice president of communications and events for SEMA
"Some of them are mom-and-pop companies that have never had sales outside of the U.S.," MacGillivray said.
This will be the second trip to the Middle East for Radflo Suspension Technology, which manufactures a line of suspension components and shock absorbers designed to replace original equipment on off-road trucks and SUVs.
Another Radflo line is off-road racing shock absorbers for vehicles that are used in such races as the Dakar Rally and the Baja 1000.
Mike Crosby, in charge of sales and marketing for Radflo, said the United Arab Emirates has become an important market for the company. He said Radflo was hoping to expand sales to other parts of the region.
Middle East customers "tend to modify their vehicles to a much greater extent than even our customers in the U.S.," Crosby said. "It's definitely a rapidly growing market."