MGP: We have built a system that is very flexible, very fast and very efficient. We are really proud of that. And since we have everything in house, once we do the develop- ment, we have full control over the quality, and it also helps us turn around any custom choices that the customer wants quickly. Let’s talk about the customization for a second, what are people wanting in customization? What’s trending? MGP: It’s interesting. Probably the biggest cus- tomization we do is color matching. Say somebody owns a specific vehicle, like maybe a sunburst orange Corvette, they’ll often order the factory logo engraving because it matches their car. But they will also do a color match where we paint the caliper covers with an automotive paint that is an exact match to the color of their car. That is probably our highest customization request. After that, people want a custom engraving. We do that as well, but it’s all over the board. It costs an extra $150 for a custom engraving, so that’s not as popular as the painting but we still get requests to do a lot of it as well. A good example are car clubs. Their members like to upload their club logo to our website for their custom engraving and from time to time we will get some incredible custom designed artwork uploaded to be engraved from individuals as well. The custom engravings are fun and the customers love the result! With the painting, are customers looking for the calipers to disappear in the color of the car or are they looking for them to stand out? MGP: Actually, in most cases they are looking for the covers to stand out. For example, if you take that Corvette again, if it’s orange, they may have chosen silver or black wheels. You put the orange caliper covers on the car so it really stands out and it looks like it’s a part of the car. It works the other way too. If a customer has wheels that are the
By John Allaire
I was fortunate enough to get licensing with Ford first then GM, MOPAR and a couple years ago we got Honda and Acura as well. Once we got into the licensing, that helped give us a more legitimate product and we really gained a lot more attention. With the uniqueness, the fact that caliper covers change the four corners of the car and the profound visual impact they make behind each wheel — it has really taken off. You manufacture the caliper covers in house, in San Diego? MGP: Absolutely. My background is in manufac- turing which made that part quite easy for me. We do all the development and we go right to the dealerships so we can take pictures and take measurements and make sure there’s clearance from the wheels and rotors and anything else that needs to be looked at. The goal is to cover every car. I visit every dealer- ship I can. I’m constantly trying to work out ways to get our calipers on their cars. We recently pur- chased a 3D scanner that has been crucial in not only expediting this process, but also producing even better fitment and we are excited about pushing harder moving forward. That must be a tremendous number of cars! How many different types of vehicles can you put your caliper covers on at this point? MGP: We currently have over 5,000 different vehicles which extrapolates into about 140,000- part numbers because of the multiple sub-mod- els, color options and licensed engraving choices. So, with your manufacturing process, it must be pretty customizable in a short period of time.
MGP is an American-based company with a man- ufacturing facility located in San Diego, California. After years of extensive research, the company has developed a process that allows them to take the technology used in the aerospace and recre- ation industries and translate that into aftermarket products for automotive enthusiasts. MGP Caliper Covers combine state-of-the-art technologies, along with 30 years of engineering experience, to offer the highest quality aftermarket parts that are held to OEM standards. Spotlight on Business Magazine looks back on our conversation with owner Mike Barland about the company and their unique products. Spotlight on Business Magazine: Caliper covers are a pretty specific and unique product. How did you get started in the business? MGP: In my previous business, I was making titanium golf clubs. And at the time, I had pur- chased a suburban and had 22-inch wheels put on it. It was nice and we had done a few upgrades on the wheels and we put TVs in it for the kids. I washed it after installing the new wheels and sat to have a beer and admire my awesome truck, and the ugly brake calipers blatantly caught my eye immediately. I knew that there was a product out there to paint them, but I didn’t really want to use paint. First of all, the paint doesn’t stick well to casting — I’m a manufacturing engineer, so I know a lot about castings. And secondly, the brake dust gets everywhere. So, I sat out there and drew up what was in my head, and what I thought would work to cover the calipers. From there, I took the ideas to my facility and worked with my tooling guy. We developed some caliper cover prototypes. I tried them out and we found that making the cover itself wasn’t a big deal. But the fastening attachment was where it really took some thought and effort. The fastening mechanism was the hardest part to develop?
MGP: Yeah. I came up with this clip design, got it patented, and then after a few years, I lost my golf business. It ended up all going over to China. I had this idea already developed and I had some pro- totypes. So, I built maybe 30 or 40 different sets for different types of vehicles. I tried them out on friend’s and family’s cars and things were working well. At that point I was ready to try and make a go of this. What were your initial steps to getting the new product out into the marketplace? MGP: I kept going to SEMA [the Specialty Equip- ment Market Association show] and petitioning them to add caliper covers as an accessory, which they eventually did. Once we were about a year or so into manufacturing, I started asking Ford, GM and MOPAR for licenses.
JUNE 2019 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JUNE 2019
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