SEASIDE — The owners of Seaside Muffler and Off Road recently turned heads with a customized truck at a Las Vegas trade show as their business continues to grow.
Tim and Danielle Wing bought the company in 2011. They got started in the business from working on their own vehicles.
“We customized our own vehicles — lift kits, wheels, tires, exhaust,” Danielle said. “We were a customer of Guy Williams for many, many years, and we developed that relationship with him.”
Williams approached the couple in 2009 about buying the business. They weren’t quite ready at that point, but he was patient.
“He wanted us to have it, and he was willing to wait until we could figure out what we wanted to do,” she said. “One day we decided we were fed up with the work environment we were in — the money was great, but in the end we decided it just wasn’t what we wanted to do.”
The husband and wife team took the leap and now operate the business together.
The shop primarily performed muffler work and repaired radiators when they took ownership. They added off-road customization and sold the radiator side of the business.
“Unfortunately it’s a dying industry,” she said. “The industry has turned to aluminized and plastic. There’s no repairing of that. There’s nobody out there that has the old-fashioned copper and brass unless it’s the big trucks and old tractors, and they’ve been repaired so many times.”
The customization side of the business now represents the largest percentage of the business, she said. The company installs lift kits, lowering kits, LED lighting, custom headlights and tail lights and diesel performance kits, to name a few.
Diesel performance refers to modifications that increase fuel economy and horsepower such as custom injectors, exhaust and tuning.
They’re building a strong reputation with their work.
They were invited to build a custom truck for the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show in Las Vegas in November.
“It is the largest aftermarket accessory car and truck expo in the whole entire world,” she said.
Anything and everything for vehicles is on display, but it’s not open to the public; it’s by invitation only.
“You can’t just build anything and be able to go to SEMA,” she said. “You have to prove to people that you can build something and have the quality work in it, and they invite you to come.”
They customized a Dodge Megacab sponsored by BDS Suspension. Other companies, including American Force Wheels, Toyo Tires, Rigid Industries, Prismatic Powders and Royalty Core asked to have their products on the vehicle.
The couple spent countless hours after closing and on the weekend customizing the truck; they didn’t have the luxury of assigning workers to the task during business hours as many companies do.
“We were taking time away from our family to do this,” she said. “Our kids were here every evening with us, building this truck. It’s hard at that age to have young kids to take away that family time, but we wanted to show that you don’t have to have eight to 12 people to build a truck, that a simple husband-and-wife team can do just as great a job.”
They customized a 2012 Dodge Ram 3500 HD. Their choice of vehicle had a marketing aspect: They’re Ford fans, but they wanted to show they can work just as well with Dodge.
The truck was displayed in the Fox Racing booth with smaller Baja racing rigs.
“We stuck out like a sore thumb, because we had a 12-inch lifted truck that was sitting above everything,” she said.
The booth got good traffic, and the Wings’ Dodge got good comments.
She emphasizes that the customized vehicles are still practical, including the fancy Dodge they took to Vegas. They drove it home and used it as an everyday vehicle before selling it.
While the flashy grilles, custom light bars and lift kits get much of the attention, the company still does a good business keeping mufflers in good working order.
“For us on the exhaust side, regardless of whether the economy is not doing good, it’s a priority,” she said. “When you have a vehicle that’s not running top notch, you have exhaust fumes or a muffler that’s falling off, people have a priority. That’s one thing they have to fix.”
Materials costs have risen, she said, but the Wings have worked to remain competitive in the market for all price points.
“You can tell when people come in here, they are in desperate need of something fixed,” she said. “Your mobilization is priority, getting to jobs, to school, to doctors appointments.”
They’re sympathetic toward people struggling to keep their cars running.
“We want people to understand that whether it’s a $500 car or a $500,000 car you’re still going to get the same quality of work regardless of the vehicle or what it looks like,” Wing said. “We don’t judge what the vehicle is; you still will get the hundred percent quality we put into anybody’s vehicle.”
Wing said the company offers a variety of choices for those on a budget and for those who want high end.
“We realized the economy isn’t perfect, but people still want to be trendy, so if we can offer something and still give it to them at a cost that’s not going to be too expensive, a lot of people are going to be interested,” she said.
And they’ll continue to seek the latest trends and products.
“We have a fun job,” she said. “It’s not a job to us; it’s a passion. And we love having our customers excited.”