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FOR the first time, the Specialty Equipment Market Association's annual exhibition at the Las Vegas Convention Center attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

The event, part of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW), is a cornucopia of auto- and truck-related products. Although most of the exhibits involve cars, there were still a wide range of truck equipment and accessories on display.

SEMA represents the fastest growing segment of the specialty automotive aftermarket industry, according to show management. Eleven miles of aisles included light truck accessories, street rod, wheel/tire, restoration, on-board technology, street performance, off-road, restyling, racing, mobile electronics, and import/sport compact performance.

This year's event was attended by more than 100,000 people involved in the automotive specialty equipment industry. More than 1,800 exhibitors had products on display, occupying an estimated 2 million square feet of exhibit space.

According to show management, approximately 1,500 vehicles and more than 1,000 new products were on display.

The buyer attendance also soared, experiencing an increase of 30% percent compared to the 2002 show.

Held concurrently with the SEMA show was the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX). Located in the Sands Expo Center, it included products for the do-it-yourself retail aftermarket and the "professionally installed" aftermarket. It offered visitors more than one million square feet of space. Special show sections included products for machine shops; paint, automotive body and equipment; tools; medium- and heavy-duty trucks; SUVs; and mobile electronics.

The next SEMA show is scheduled for November 2-5.

Here is a sample of the truck equipment and accessories seen at the most recent event:

Freedom to tow (or not) is provided by the Freedom fifthwheel towing system for pulling gooseneck trailers. When not towing a trailer, the Freedom Gooseneck/Fifthwheel system provides unobstructed bed space - the result of an underbed gooseneck with retractable hitch ball. If a kingpin is required instead, the hitch ball can be removed and a kingpin adapter put in its place. Mark Caldwell demonstrates for Putnam Hitch Products, Bronson MO. (www.putnamhitch.com)

ActivGate is a combination bedliner, toolbox, cargo control system, and bed extender. The movable gate extends to the end of the OEM tailgate when open or retracts when the OEM tailgate is closed. Taillights make the truck more visible when the gate is fully extended. Kim Street demonstrates how the gate pivots - vertically to keep the contents of the pickup box secure, horizontally to serve as a workbench. The gate can be removed and repositioned in any of the slots on the sidewall of the ActivGate to serve as a cargo control bulkhead. Notches in the gate help hold ladders and lumber in place. Available now for Dodge pickups, Projx Auto of Madison Heights MI is scheduled to have Ford and Chevy versions ready this spring. (www.projxauto.com)

Transfer tanks are a new product for Better Built Industrial, Pensacola FL. They come in a variety of configurations, including this combo unit (foreground) - an L-shaped tank with a toolbox welded together for stability, says Clint Daws. A 100-gallon rectangular tank is in the background. (www.dawsbetterbuilt.com)

Light-duty crane from Spitzlift now can be mounted in a receiver hitch. Bolt-on bracket also allows the crane to be mounted elsewhere - on or off the truck, says Michael Spitsbergen. The crane has a 700-pound capacity, yet it weighs as little as 27 pounds. Spitzlift Inc, Abilene TX. (www.spitzlift.com)

Capturing overhead storage is the idea behind the new Overhead Storage slide-out model from Cargobat Manufacturing Inc, Kirkland WA. The company's latest product complements the standard tilt down model that Cargobat has been producing for years. The Cargobat is a steel and aluminum framed storage system designed to provide storage and security in trucks with caps. The new Cargobat Slide Out model glides on aluminum track and roller bearings to bring the storage tray out to the user's fingertips. The storage system holds up to 300 pounds of cargo. (www.cargobat.com)

Contractor box is designed for those needing quick access to small items such as hand tools, yet also requiring storage space below for larger items, says Fred Martin with Pro-Tech Industries, Vancouver WA. The company is offering the contractor box on a one-off basis, with full production scheduled by the middle of the first quarter. (www.protech.net)

Remote control snowplow is available from Snow Bear Ltd, Guelph, Ontario. The PolarPro Flexblade plow fits on a front-mounted receiver hitch and can be lifted or lowered with a wireless remote control transmitter that fits on a keychain. The plow also can be angled manually, says Claudia Demandt. (www.snowbear.com)

See but barely seen. A television camera mounted on the tailgate of a pickup makes hitching up a trailer a solo process. Although barely visible on the tailgate, the camera provides a clear view of the trailer and hitch by means of an in-cab console. The Straight Shot is available from Trailer Technologies, Layton UT, says Steve Luchsinger.

Cab protector from Weatherguard (www.knaack.com) has hollow-tube pathways for enclosed wiring. Accessories include rectangular or round bases for lighting and a ladder mount extension, says Jim Radous.

Sliding toolbox moves on ball-bearing slides that allow the toolbox to fit beneath a closed tonneau cover. It is a product of Geneva Manufacturing, South Elgin IL. (www.genevaproducts.com)

Keeping cargo secure is easy with six-foot and eight-foot slide-out drawers from Tuffy Security Products, Cortez CO. The drawers can be locked into place in one-foot intervals. The eight-foot drawer can hold 600 pounds when fully extended, Jeff Schell says. (www.tuffyproducts.com)

Bedslide is a sliding deck system for consumer or commercial use. The new Contractor Grad model has a greater bearing surface, a powder-coat finish, four-inch aluminum side rails, and a marine-grade plywood deck topped with a quarter-inch rubber mat. The base frame now has a 5% angle (slightly higher in the rear) to improve slide performance and eliminate the need for a spacer kit for those applications where the tailgate is not completely flat. Models available for the Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade have become one of the company's best sellers. It is a product of ITW Inc (formerly Innovative FabWorks) of Central Point OR. (www.bedslide.com)

Stellar X-Tra-Lift is now available in a 6-1/2-foot box version, Stellar Industries, Garner IA. This version comes with a 1,300-lb capacity, detachable platform, and light bar. It can be used for a variety of applications, including transportation of building materials, appliances, or other cargo that may be too heavy or awkward to load manually. (http://www.stellar-industries.com)

Helper springs boost cargo and towing capacity, improve cornering, and reduce wheel hop without hardening the ride, says Steve Bartleet, CEO of Supersprings International, Carpinteria CA. A patented roller and shackle system puts the springs to work only when needed. (www.supersprings.com)

Special delivery is provided by this aluminum car carrier from Featherlite Inc, Cresco IA. The trailer complements other lines of car carriers the company has developed, including an enclosed trailer and a full truck trailer for transporting and servicing race cars. (www.featherliteinc.com)

Leave it behind. The "Pull Out" tool chest is designed to hold all the tools a work crew needs, freeing the truck for other applications. Geoffrey Miller displayed the product to license the technology, supply manufactured units at wholesale, or to seek other contractual arrangements. Miller is president of The Pull Out Corp, Ardmore PA.

Combination roll bar and ladder rack is now available from Slide Systems LLC, Canstota NY. It is offered with a choice of anodized or powder-coat finish, says Rick Clonan. (www.slidesystems.com)

Wild West Series is a full front replacement for full-sized pickups and most full-sized SUVs. They are available with optional winch mount from Tietjen's Lone Star Truck Equipment, La Grange TX. (www.lonestartruckequipment.com)

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