Parts manufacturer growing with off-road niche
More than two decades after launching from a garage, Works Connection is growing, with a move in 2012 and more products on the way.
Eric Phipps founded the company with a goal of supplying off-road riders with some of the one-off parts he had seen on factory racing bikes.
“It was started in 1989 in the owner’s garage, so it’s one of those homegrown stories, where it wasn’t a big thought-up corporate idea or anything,” Works Connection general manager Ryan Burke said.
Soon after Phipps started the company, factory racers were coming to him for parts, and they continue to today. Works Connection makes parts for dirt bikes and ATVs.
“The dirt bike market — motocross, Supercross, off-road — I would say that’s our core audience that we’re going for; that’s where we see most of our revenue coming from,” Burke reported.
The company is best known for its skid plates, frame guards and clutch perches.
“Those are the core products that we’ve built the company on over the years. Those are the products that started in the garage,” Burke said.
But its lineup has expanded. Works Connection’s hour meter has been one of its hot products over the last few years, and sales of its anodized items are increasing. In addition to the products the company makes itself, it also helps distribute a number of other brands.
“We do sell through Tucker, Western and Parts, and we sell dealer direct as well. And then we also sell to the end consumer retail, so we cover every channel,” Burke explained.
Works Connection is known for its high-quality fit and finish. The fact that its products are easy to install is another draw.
“People know if we come out with a product, they’re confident and think, ‘OK I’m going to purchase this from them because it is high quality,’” Burke said.
Works Connection designs and assembles all of its products, but does not manufacturer its own parts. Quality is assured, however, as nearly all of its products are produced within an hour’s drive of the company’s California headquarters.
“We’re literally at the machine shop on a daily basis; it’s like having our own machine shop. Quality control is spot on,” Burke said.
Videos help customer service
On top of the performance of Works Connection parts, consumers and dealers also gravitate toward the brand because of its customer service.
“Our customer service is second to none. We’re literally there for our dealers. If they need something, we’re there for them instantly,” Burke said.
To increase that customer service, Works Connection is pushing to post more product videos on its site. Photos of 90 percent of the products on each unit they fit are already available, and the company is beginning to create videos for all other products as well. A few introductory clips starring former pro racer David Pingree have already been posted.
Burke said the company focuses on business basics — doing what it says it’s going to do. In order to deliver on that promise and to increase its product offerings, Works Connection recently relocated to a new building in Cameron Park, Calif., near Sacramento. The new facility nearly tripled the company’s square footage.
Works Connection’s move will allow the company to add more lines, increase its inventory and improve its fill rates. However, those fill rates need little improvement. With Works Connection’s distributors reporting 98-99 percent fill rates, the company seldom has backorders.
“There are a lot of distributor orders that will ship throughout the year 100 percent complete,” Burke said.
Sales in 2012 were up over 2011, and Burke expects to see growth in some of the product lines this year. Works Connection’s Pro Launch Start Device, featuring a new design, is already surpassing the company’s expectations, and as new products are introduced over the next few months, odds are Works Connection will continue to see sales improve.