Cap World is a SEMA-member company specializing in truck caps, truck trailers and other truck accessories—or, as the company’s website proclaims, “everything but the truck.” Alongside a recent 30-year anniversary milestone came recognition from the Light Truck Accessory Alliance (LTAA), as Cap World was named Retailer of the Year for 2015. Each of those accomplishments explains how Cap World has stood out as a retail success story.
Retail Store Review
Before opening a brick-and-mortar retail location in 2014, Derek Dobson, owner and managing partner of Dale’s Super Store, traveled to swap meets up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest to sell aftermarket performance truck parts and accessories. Now operating out of a 2,200-sq.-ft. facility in Bradenton, Florida, Dobson has four fulltime employees, including himself, and one part-time employee, and he is in the process of expanding into a new 7,000-sq.-ft. building in Bradenton.
Founded in 1979 and remotely located in Waynesville, Ohio, Ken Steele’s Solar Shade Truck & Car Paradise remains steadfastly brick-and-mortar in a day when online retailers are increasingly pressuring such business models. Yet after laboring through some admittedly tough early days, Steele has built a profitable three-bay, 6,000-sq.-ft. retail operation that sells and installs an impressively wide range of aftermarket accessories, including window tinting and trike conversions. In the process, he’s attracted a loyal customer following throughout his far-flung region.
Located in Covina, California, Bert’s Mega Mall has a celebrated reputation as the nation’s largest powersports super store. Originally a bicycle retailer, it was bought in 1958 by Ed Seidner, who kept the Bert’s name because he couldn’t afford to change the signage and business cards at the time. Soon Seidner was adding motorcycles to his inventory, becoming one of California’s first Yamaha franchises.
A longtime passion for off-roading helped motivate the Richmond family to launch Southern Off-Road Specialists (SORS) in 2000.
Like so many small-business owners involved in automotive retail companies, David and Kevin Walker were enthusiasts early on. They loved anything with an engine, and they helped pay their way through college by working at a truck accessories store. That experience gave them a foundation in auto-parts retailing, so it was natural that they should start a store of their own when the chance presented itself. David was 21 and Kevin 20 in 2006 when they opened the doors to Custom Trucks Unlimited (CTU) in Auburn, Alabama.
Catering to a small niche market in Europe for the past 10 years, Velocity Automotive Group, based in Munich, imports and distributes parts from more than 500 manufacturers for American performance cars and trucks. This particular niche revolves around the Mustang, which is wildly popular in America but not nearly as common in Europe. However, according to Johannes Crepon, the company’s owner, the American performance market in Europe is still exciting because it’s so diverse. The customer base ranges from aging enthusiasts who have always dreamed of owning and restoring a vintage Mustang to Millennials who prefer late-model Camaros, Corvettes and Ram trucks.
H&H Classic Parts Perseveres Despite Changing Business Climates
Initially a one-man operation run by Herman Smith, H&H Classic Parts opened its doors in September 1987 as a hobby that got way out of hand, according to Smith’s son Tray, who is now vice president of operations and sales. The company has since grown in size by 300%.
Founded by Alex Shen 18 years ago, SP Engineering began as a tuner shop in a humble 4,800-sq.-ft. facility with three employees in City of Industry, California. The company has since expanded into retail with a 13,000-sq.-ft. facility, five lifts and 13 employees.
Business has changed drastically for SP Engineering since the Nissan GT-R launched in 2008. The company previously worked with a mixture of Japanese cars and European exotics, including the 2JZ, RX7, 350Z and V12 Lamborghini. Since 2008, the GT-R has represented about 90% of SP Engineering’s market.
The banner at the top of the RCTS Canada website reads, “Technology is the only substitute for cubic inches.” It’s a saying that the retail performance outlet has lived by since owner Reg Riemer founded it in 1996. Over the years, RCTS has worked closely with factory shops ranging from TTE-Toyota Team Europe to HKS to boost its technical and R&D credentials. In fact, RCTS has carved out a specific niche as the only licensed, fully supported HKS Pro Dealer in all of Canada.
“Reg actually started by selling HKS products out of his garage way back,” explained shop foreman Antony Ray. “Soon he had to get a building to sell them out of, and things grew.