Fun-based accessories help Vertically Driven Products reach UTV segment
Entering the side-by-side accessories market in the latter part of the first decade of the millennium proved to be a fruitful venture for many companies. Vertically Driven Products was no different.
The Long Beach, Calif.-based manufacturer jumped into powersports just as Polaris released the RZR, creating an all-new pure sports niche in the side-by-side market. The move was a positive step for a 30-year-old plastics company that was already playing in the Jeep world.
“I got involved in Jeep accessories and then realized, wow, the UTVs are coming out. That’s a market I shouldn’t miss because no one’s done what I’ve done in the Jeep world in … the UTV world. So that’s how I came in,” VDP president Jeff Jacobson said.
Jacobson Plastics, Inc., VDP’s parent company, has been manufacturing plastic products for companies such as Boeing and Callaway Golf since the 1980s, but Jacobson is an inventor at heart, so he wanted to bring his own line of products to market. VDP now creates more than 20 Jeep and 18 side-by-side products.
VDP’s best sellers in the side-by-side segment include its 6-Can Tube Cooler, Sound Bar, Sound Wedge and Organizer Bag. Products in the line are designed to fit Yamaha, Polaris, Kawasaki, Arctic Cat, Honda, Kubota and Can-Am side-by-sides, with universal products available to fit nearly every make and model.
Each item was invented by Jacobson to address a need in the market. VDP’s bags, for example, were developed after Jacobson realized he was carrying a slew of items — including keys, a wallet, a camera, sunscreen and beer — on each ride that could be carefully tucked away if such a product were available.
“I developed the components to allow this lifestyle to go with you off-roading and have all that you need,” he said.
Each product is unique and priced competitively, characteristics that attract both dealers and consumers.
“We build OEM component accessories at half the price, and everything that we make is unique and original — nothing’s been copied from someone else,” Jacobson explained. “It’s my nature being an inventor to have the pride of showing everything that I’ve developed, and that way I have a much easier sell when I go in because I say, ‘You can’t get this from anybody else.’”
VDP manufactures almost all of its products out of its 65,000-square-foot facility, where 80 employees share three eight-hour shifts. When VDP needs components from outside manufacturers, each piece is opened and quality checked before being used or distributed. The company goes to great lengths to assure that customers receive high-quality products in packaging that will keep them protected until opened.
“I do everything from the bottom until the product’s in a box, shipped back and forth UPS twice to New York and back, and I know the box and the product won’t get damaged. Then it’s ready to sell,” Jacobson said.
Since teaming up with Parts Unlimited a few years ago, VDP’s side-by-side product volumes have quadrupled. Jacobson has worked hard with reps and dealers to offer them the best advice for selling and profiting from his products. This summer VDP released new point-of-purchase signage to highlight all the products in its side-by-side line. He says physically stocking the product is the best way to make it move.
“Put up a couple of items that people can say, ‘Oh, there are accessories available.’ Don’t make them dig out a book,” he advised. “Show some stuff that everyone has an appeal for, like a 6-Can Cooler, an Organizer Bag, everything that’s under $30, then hang the POP chart with a sound system under it all and say, ‘We carry this entire line.’ Then people are coming over and going ‘Oh, there’s a whole world here we didn’t know existed, the world of UTV accessories.’”
Though VDP’s side-by-side line has nearly reached the number of Jeep products the company carries, the work is never done. Jacobson’s mind is always searching for the next great “gotta-have-it” product.
“Fortunately everybody likes our line,” he said. “It’s a friendly, cheerful, makes-you-happy kind of product line. We’re not selling spark plugs; we’re selling beer holders and sound.”