As I write this, I am hot off the heels of my annual trip to Las Vegas for industry week, where most of my time is spent on the SEMA Show floor. My feet are still numb. It’s been two weeks.

This year marked my second in-person SEMA—though I’ve been with the magazine since 2019—and things were certainly different than last year. For one, there were more people. As a super-fast walker, it was hard to find a path I could traverse at my 15 km/h striding pace without running into: a) someone I know; b) an intriguing event at a random booth; or c) a clog in the crowd, caused by a hoard of slow walkers. You can never blame them, though. There’s just so much to stop and see at the SEMA Show.

The second difference was a tad more personal. This year, I was asked to be part of the Global Media Awards program; an honour bestowed upon me by SEMA Show Media Relations Manager Juan Torres. I’ll be honest: when I received the email, my first thought was, “You’ve got the wrong gal.” A classic symptom of imposter syndrome. It was a brief thought. After almost five years of daily reporting on the industry; hundreds of events attended and hands shaken; and dozens of lifelong friendships formed, I have a decent understanding of how things work around here. But there’s always more to learn. That’s why I’m still here.

It’s always a bit surreal to meet new people that know who I am just by looking at me, especially when they are names I’ve heard circulating around the industry or have seen in my email, news articles or elsewhere over my near five years in the industry.

One of the first times I was “recognized” was in the Las Vegas airport after SEMA 2022. I had my headphones on; nails tip-tapping away on my keyboard. Someone tapped me on the shoulder, pointed at their computer screen (with our website in their browser) and flashed me a thumbs up. A year and a bit later, I’m friends with that individual—I’m not quite delusional enough to believe I have fans— and the work they do is top-of-the-line in the industry.

This is all to say that, until I started attending events, I really wasn’t sure if I had the hang of this. I grew up in a family of classic car lovers—Mopar gang—but never had real experience with bodyshops, business or even cars in general, aside from knowing how to drive one. It wasn’t until I saw the support of the industry and got props from people I myself admire that I gained the confidence I have today. All of this rambling is just to say thanks, really. Thank you for welcoming me into this industry with open arms.

Those that know me are well aware of my go-to response when asked how I got into this industry in the first place. My middle name is quite literally Mercedes. I may not have known I’d end up in automotive, but someone in my family did.

Here’s to another year of success and good times. All the best!

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