Get To Know Kelle

I grew up on a Midwestern farm in a family that works together. My father was a master diesel truck mechanic and a farmer the other 16 hours of the day, and he still works the land at 83. I grew up raising hogs and cattle, helping maintain equipment, cutting firewood, and looking after the land. My brother is a career automotive collision technician who taught me to measure, cut, weld, and paint. More importantly, he taught me to always consider the safety of the people inside the car and how quality and conscientious work will protect them. I believe these experiences combining agriculture, animals, machinery, and family forged my core values, sense of personal responsibility, and strong work ethic.

Today, I am deeply involved in the automotive aftermarket industry. With over 20 years of experience as a restoration business owner, overseeing a team of 32, and a previous career as a legal assistant, I’ve gained invaluable real-world expertise in business ownership, team development, real estate, finance and daily operations management.   

  • Restoration Shop Owner – 20 Years – V8 Speed and Resto Shop
    • Operations Manager Leading Team of 32 Team Members
    • Operations and Financial Management, Strategic Planning
    • Oversee all in-house departments including:
      • HR / Team Culture
      • Mechanical
      • Fabrication
      • Bodywork
      • Paint
      • Upholstery
      • Engine Machine Shop
      • Parts Management and Warehousing
      • Marketing / Media
  • Legal Assistant – 13 Years
    • Real Estate and Corporate Law. Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis

I am passionate about industry growth, and I actively engage with schools, speak at career events, and mentor students.  I believe SEMA and its membership have the resources new businesses need to thrive, and I am to help make them more available to members.  

  • SEMA Member:
    • HRIA – Hot Rod Industry Alliance Member
    • ARMO – Automotive Restoration Marketplace Member
    • PRI – Professional Racing Industry Member
    • SBN – SEMA Businesswomen’s Network Member
    • 20 Year SEMA Show Veteran

My experience collaborating with stakeholders – from city councils to educational institutions – translates to effective leadership. I’ll champion initiatives that connect members with SEMA’s educational resources and propel business growth.   

  • SEMA HRIA Select Committee Member
    • Education Subcommittee
    • Membership Subcommittee

I’ve achieved a Master Certification in Shop Ownership from the Drive Shops program learning essential topics such as KPIs, financial strategy, business operations, marketing, and human resource management. I have honed my leadership skills through programs like Discover Leadership and the Vistage Chief Executive Group. These experiences equip me with strategic thinking and executive-level insights vital for effective leadership.

  • Master Certification in Shop Ownership – Drive Shops
  • Member – Vistage Chief Executive Group
  • Master Graduate – Discover Leadership Program

As a business owner, I understand the challenges faced by grassroots and small businesses. I’ll be a strong voice for their concerns, advocating for legislative solutions and fostering the innovation that drives our industry.  

I fully recognize the complexities and challenges involved in leading this organization. Once all considerations have been thoroughly evaluated and a decision is reached, I will wholeheartedly support the board’s directives and work collaboratively to achieve our shared goals.

  • Media Personality – V8 Radio Podcast, V8TV Television
  • Past Member – Women In Automotive Collision
  • Other Skills and Experience
    • Public Speaking, Interviewing, Panel Discussion Moderation
    • Welding, Fabrication, Mechanical
    • Camping, Fishing, and Farming

I am committed to promoting education, advocating for all SEMA members, and enhancing SEMA’s outreach efforts year-round.   The automotive aftermarket has provided me with a rich life full of wonderful experiences… It is my responsibility to help others achieve in our industry as I have.  Working together, we will ensure a vibrant and successful future for everyone who calls the automotive aftermarket industry their home.  

Thank you for your consideration and your vote!

– Kelle Oeste

Kelle Oeste at the Bonneville Salt Flats for SCTA Speed Week
Kelle Oeste at the Bonneville Salt Flats for SCTA Speed Week