Being Rob Ferro isn’t easy, between shows family and managing DS18’s Social Media, there’s a lot for me to stress out over. Last week, the team and I flew out to Las Vegas for this year’s SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Call it what you want: a glorified workshop, an overexaggerated audio show or an ego booster, but the DS18 team has always seen the SEMA show as an honor. And rightfully so. SEMA has held the record for the most patronized manufacturer gathering in the United States with over 70,000 attendees every year. SEMA 2022 was no different and marks our first return to the biggest show of the year post pandemic. That’s why, when the DS18 team was having their first dinner with Cris Allen from Limitless Lithium, Hector from SoFlo Cycles, the demo vehicle owners, and Sasha our CEO in SUSHISAMBA, I was stressing out over our booth at the event.
There were still a lot of decisions to make: should we order a light outlet for the booth; where should we place the billboard at our outside booth; what vehicles should be inside or outside? Everything had to be perfect. We didn’t drive three whole days, deal with cops, or set up in the cold all day just to participate: we wanted to make a difference. We’ve been coming to SEMA for close to a decade, and every year we’ve gotten better: but, we went all out this year. So, I was up all night trying to figure out what was the best way to arrange everything.
Walking into the showcase on early Tuesday morning, I could tell I made the right calls. DS18 was everywhere: we had our extremely LOUD staples in the building, the tremendously powerful 6 x 6 Jeep Gladiator and Bronco; Enzo Motoring McLaren, which has an entire rear interior fiberglass enclosure holding over a dozen DS18 Pro Audio speakers had crowds gathered outside to experience what LOUD truly sounds like; Cris Allen’s Ground Pound stunned onlookers with the 80,000w sound system, featuring a Ford Expedition decked out with over 100 DS18 speakers including 6 massive 15-inch Hooligan SPL competition subwoofers; Johnny Schultz Sky High Astro Van pumped powerful bass through the crowd with 12 Hooligan 15’s and 40 full range speakers powered by the Hooligan 10K’s; and as soon as you walked into the event you’d see a beautiful bike from SoFlo Cycles backed by our best-selling products. There was no chance we wouldn’t get attention from everyone at the show.
As soon as they opened doors for spectators, like a magnet, our booth drew all of them to us immediately. Everyone on the team had their business cards and our booth was lined with lanyards and show bags. Before the show was even halfway through most of them were gone.
It was nice to see some familiar faces. I can remember previous SEMA shows where we got fifty or sixty visitors at most. Now it felt like we had people coming just to see us. “I was hoping you guys were back,” one spectator told me, “Every time I see you guys you get bigger.” Of course we do, I thought. That’s what this show is about. At least that’s what it means to DS18. I see every SEMA show as an opportunity to grow. I’m inspired by the opportunity it gives us to benchmark and improve ourselves. Why wouldn’t we get better at every show?
Wednesday’s show was just as exciting. A whole new batch of fresh faces came to our booth and were in love with the products we had on display.
Although two years removed from the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects were on display throughout the entirety of the event. “How did you guys survive the pandemic?” patrons asked. I hadn’t really thought about it before.
We worked our butts off through the pandemic to make sure we were never just trying to survive. Our entire team united to give each other the strength to work through the toughest periods of the pandemic. Being able to attend the SEMA show this year was a product of the unification we went through as a team during the pandemic. None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication from every person at DS18.
That’s why when Thursday’s show came around, I decided to have some fun. The bike SoFlo Customs provided us with was LOUD! So, whenever I was demonstrating it, I had to make sure not to blast over the other booths in our area.
But isn’t that the point, I thought.
On Thursday, I decided I was going to give the showroom a taste of what LOUD felt like. So, I turned the volume up every chance I got. The spectators loved it: but the other exhibitors and security were not enjoying it as much as I thought they would. They threatened me so much I started to feel like Scarface. “Make way for the bad guy!” I said before getting the bike to its MAX! The crowd loved it.
There was nothing like it. Pictures could never do it justice. SEMA was the experience of a lifetime. Another reminder of how far we’ve come and how much work we still need to do. I’d say we made a pretty good impression, but I’m still not satisfied. Next year we’re coming back even better to solidify ourselves as a powerhouse in the audio industry, and I’ll stress just as much as I did this time.
Hopefully we’ll see you there!