Mike Spagnola

Mike Spagnola

Vice President, OEM & Product Development

SEMA Garage

Diamond Bar, CA USA

You have to wake up every morning, push through it, and say ‘I’m not going to let things get in my way’. You’re going to fail, but you’re going to pick yourself up and keep going.


By Roadtrip Nation

Mike Spagnola

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My road in life took a while to figure out.
He took auto shop in high school and loved it; always knew he wanted to race cars.
Once he graduated high school—in between racing and fixing cars—he went to work for a Datsun dealership delivering parts.
Knew he loved the auto industry, but wasn’t sure he wanted to be a mechanic—realized that there were endless other opportunities that he could explore.
Over the last 40 years, he has worked in the import cars business, bought, sold and ran companies, and is now in charge of Product Development at the SEMA Garage.
At SEMA, he is working on pioneering the use of 3D printing to create custom parts for vehicles.
Over the course of his career, he constantly encountered negativity from the people around him who were convinced he was going to fail.
Believes that to succeed you need to: work hard, take risks, ask questions, talk to a lot of people, do your research and jump in!
Says that the auto industry is “loving and anxious to see the next generation come in”; encourages young people to not be shy and befriend people that can help you on your journey.
Keep following my journey


Vice President, OEM & Product Development

I serve as a resource and liaison for SEMA members and automakers & help develop aftermarket automotive products.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

My day is mainly spent sending emails, giving and receiving phone calls, guiding our staff to ensure they have all of the resources they need to do their work, and working on big-picture projects that will continue to move the ball forward.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

You can't be shy. This industry is welcoming and excited to see the next generation come in, but you have to get out of your comfort zone and embrace that. You have to engage with the industry in order to learn all that you can and outwork the person next to you. Learn about business, finance, and mechanics.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

The automotive industry is so diverse, you don't have to be a mechanic if that doesn't interest you. If you have an interest in sales, marketing, business, technology, etc. there is a position for you. Don't think that your passion for cars or this industry has to be limited.

Recommended Education

My career is not related to what I studied. I'd recommend this path instead:

Business/Commerce, General
Automobile/Automotive Mechanics Technology/Technician


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"If they couldn't do it, what makes you think you can? You are going to fail. "

Challenges I Overcame

Learning Issues

Interviewed By

Changing Gears

Changing Gears

Technicians Roadtrip