The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has a primary goal in mind: to help automotive businesses to succeed. With one of the largest automotive trade shows to help manufacturers showcase some of their best products, you’d think that SEMA has its proverbial hands full, but that’s just a part of what they do.

We visited SEMA during Collector Car Appreciation Day last year at their headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, to not only see some great custom cars and trucks, but to also get a first-hand look at the newly developed SEMA Garage. Like many garages for gearheads, SEMA Garage was built for gearheads with high-tech tools and equipment that many smaller shops may not have access to.

The SEMA Garage and Product Development Center provides full emissions-testing Ethylene Oxide (EO) certification, as well as providing the tools and equipment to help produce parts for testing and prototyping. You see, SEMA is in it of us, not themselves, and they spend a lot of time supporting the industry and lobbying to fight legislature that threatens our hobby.

One area that we toured last July was the Photo Cove. The Photo Cove is an area that SEMA set up at SEMA Garage for media and manufacturers to take professional photos of anything from a small part to a complete car, all at reasonable and affordable rates. The Industry Innovations Center opened for business in April, 2014, to the photography of celebrity builders Pete Chapouris and Jimmy Shine of So-Cal Speed Shop to photograph a project car they’re building for Billy Gibbons – yes, that guy from ZZ Top that loves custom cars.

“With the opening of the photo cove, the SEMA Garage is able to help SEMA members throughout the entire product development cycle,” said Mike Spagnola, SEMA VP of OEM and Product Development Programs. SEMA members can use equipment in the SEMA garage, including a high-tech 3D printer, to create a prototype before testing the product, and utilize the photo cove to shoot product photos. “The SEMA Garage can literally cut the entire product development process down to six weeks,” said Spagnola.

A SEMA Garage Open House is being planned for Thursday, July 17, 2014, and is open to SEMA members and those interested in seeing the more than $1 million worth of tools and assets in action. Look to SEMA about mid-June for more information and details about the Open House. For any questions about SEMA Garage or the Photo Cove, please visit the SEMA web site.