By David Smith, President
Two years ago it seemed as though the world was going to end. The reports from the media predicted an economic depression akin to the 1930’s. Things here looked fairly grim back then as well, and it wasn’t just the economy. As 2009 dawned we were facing yet another Federal lawsuit from old man Shelby, sales were down about 25% and as we would go thru the year we would face numerous business challenges that would test our commitment to the Factory Five tradition of continuous product improvement.
I wrote a blog at the end of the year, and again at the beginning of 2010 speaking about Factory Five’s plans. This morning I went back and re-read those posts. I was amazed at how things turned out for us in 2010, and I can’t wait to look back next year at this time to see if the plans we have for this year work out as well as the ones we laid a year ago!
I am anxious to tell you about the exciting plans we have going forward. Running this company is a great honor and a great responsibility. In the truest sense, I work for you and, as we head full-speed into 2011, I feel an obligation to look back and at least summarize what we’ve done, so that you can weigh our plans for the year ahead truthfully. For a company whose recent focus was survival and re-investment, the last few years (and 2010 in particular!), have been pretty impressive. Here’s a short summary of the major milestones from the past year or so.
Production: We built and sold just over a thousand chassis kits in 2009 & 2010! That’s taking care of one person at a time and building one car at a time!
’33 Hot Rod Success: Two years ago at this time, we had just shipped a handful of our new ’33 Hot Rod kits. Today we have built close to 300 of them and the car has been everywhere!
Defeated Shelby: In 2010, we beat Shelby outright in his lawsuit over the Daytona Coupe. A few months later we won again and our objection to his attempt to register the shape of the 427 Cobra was successful in U.S. Patent and Trademark Court. To my knowledge we are the only company to ever beat Shelby in court. The tremendous financial burden of this legal action is over.
New Mk4 Roadster: At last year’s Winter Open House, we launched our newest version of our best-selling car, the Mk4 Roadster, a project that we had invested in as the economy cratered. Today, sales of the new, better, faster, stronger Mk4 are great.
New 2nd Gen GTM: Last summer at our massive June Open House, we unveiled our new 2nd Generation GTM, taking our flagship Supercar to the next level with big improvements in quality and a nicely re-designed body shape, among other things.
$9,990 Stage 1 Hot Rod: As Hot Rod sales grew through 2010, we listened to Hot Rod customers who wanted a stage 1 chassis kit for less money so they could get busy building their cars. Last October, we launched a $9,990 stage 1 package to help guys get started on their 33 projects.
On-Line Community: In 2010 we launched our Facebook site and invested more in the on-line community. We also began the process of integrating more into the electronic medium (a lot more on that in a bit).
Factory Five on TV: Last year we explored an all-new medium for us in broadcast TV. The Factory Five cars and community shined on Speed Channels’ Two Guys Garage, and Spike’s Horsepower TV and MuscleCar TV. We have several shows scheduled for 2011.
Partners: While other companies were shorting their suppliers thru this economy, we invested in those relationships. We strengthened our relationships with our partners like Ford Racing, GM Performance Parts, Solidworks, Stewart Transport, Koni and and many others. These relationships will prove to be crucial going forward into 2011 and beyond.
15 Year Anniversary: 2010 was our 15 year anniversary. We celebrated this milestone with 15 weeks of fun ideas and capped it off with a special edition Mk4 Anniversary Roadster, of which, only 15 will ever be made.
Too much to mention: From Shows and events, our Open House, customer events, friends made (and some great ones lost), there are simply too many other things to mention. I am here 6 days a week and the stories of 2010 at Factory Five won’t fit in a web post, but I can tell you the people here have worked exceptionally hard and with such integrity… It was a wonderful year!
Looking back at all we’ve done, it’s difficult to believe the strategy was simply survival and refinement/reinvestment… We’ve done so much more than that!
But that’s the past. We survived better than we guessed. But we don’t exist to survive and survival in business is no long-term strategy. The road ahead is growth. We want to grow the company and community and in a way that makes a positive difference in peoples lives.
To do this requires us to focus on new challenges like exports into the global markets. In order to bring the Factory Five experience to more people, we’ve got to leverage the talents and skills we’ve learned over the past 15 years to make truly revolutionary new products that deliver HUGE value for even less money.
I want to tell you about five new projects that help us towards these goals, the biggest of which is the next Factory Five model. I hope you will join us as we travel the road ahead together.
The lesson of our Winter Open House is that if you give people free pizza they will endure long speeches from a boring President. The other lesson is that the warm days of Spring are just around the corner. The cars are getting prepped, soon the snow will be gone, and we’ll be visited more regularly by the good folks of the Wareham PD for having too much fun with our Factory Five cars.