Side-by-side becomes a hot segment for the company
On a Monday morning in Temecula, California, PRP Seats employees were hard at work, assembling custom seats for waiting customers.
They were bundling materials, sewing, welding, attaching foam and slipping leather over frames as they tried to push out as many high-quality seats as possible.
“Sales are up for us,” marketing director Jason DeArmond told Powersports Business during a factory tour. “We’re above capacity as far as our weekly seat production, so it’s been very busy so far this year. We don’t see it slowing down any time soon.”
PRP Seats is getting about 50 more orders per week than the company has the capacity to produce. Because of this, production time has increased to three weeks from the typical two-week period. But DeArmond explained PRP is still producing seats faster than its competitors, and moves are being made to bring it back to two weeks.
“We really pride ourselves in keeping that production time down. That’s always been our No. 1 priority; that’s just our focus,” he said.
For PRP, the question is: “What’s next?” With capacity overflowing, the company is looking into its next step as it plans for future growth. PRP recently purchased two digital cutting machines to speed up production, but it also has to look at how to add to its staff.
“We’re making plans for the future of where we’re going to expand that, what we’re going to do, whether we’re going to expand it internally or use American outsourcing production,” DeArmond explained.
It’s always been important to PRP that its seats are American made and can be delivered to customers in short order. Therefore, the company is looking at the U.S. for any expansion.
“That’s what we really focus on, and that’s why we really pride ourselves on that, not just using American factories but also being able to quickly turnaround a good, quality product that is made here, but it’s at a competitive price point as well. We really work hard to keep all of that hand-in-hand, so it’s important to us to keep most of it made in America, if not all of it,” DeArmond said.
It’s amazing even to DeArmond that PRP is able to deliver seats with all custom colors and optional features like heaters and lumbar support in a matter of two to three weeks, but customers appreciate that service.
“They like coming in here and checking things out, and they do like that it is American-made because a lot of our customers are very patriotic, very into their country, as we are, so it’s important all around,” he said.
Though PRP Seats started off in the Jeep and buggy market in 1997, the sport side-by-side sales boon has shifted the business.
“UTV is huge. UTV sales is about 2-to-1 as compared to combined Jeep and truck and all that stuff, so it’s really big for us. It’s really been the thing that took us to the level that we’re at today,” DeArmond reported.
PRP was one of the first seat companies to explore the side-by-side segment, quickly developing seats as vehicles like the Polaris RZR hit the market. That experience earned PRP a contract with Polaris, developing seats for the RZR XP 900 H.O. Jagged X Edition.
“When we first started that program, they got seats from all of the major manufacturers, and we were the one that really could come through, not just with production times and pricing, which is important, but also with the quality of the seats,” DeArmond said. “Their engineers tested our seats, and they favored them over the rest of the competition because of the quality of the seats and, again, our production time.”
But seats aren’t the only side-by-side products that are moving well for PRP. The company also sells door, roof and center console bags, with the door bags being the most popular. PRP’s Yamaha YXZ Overhead Storage Bag was a 2016 Powersports Business Nifty 50 winner.
“If you’d judge us just on quantity, we’d be a bag company,” DeArmond said.
With the PRP factory beyond capacity with seats, another company in California makes the bags off-site. The bags are a nice extension of the seat business because they allow PRP to focus on what DeArmond calls the “driver bubble.”
“When you have other products that really fall under your core business of the driver and their comfort and safety, and for that to be another supporting area of your business, that’s big,” he said. “Seats are big — they’re an investment for the user, for sure — and the bags are just such a good, convenient low-priced item that has been very helpful in keeping sales and keeping our name out there, too.”
With success stemming from both seats and bags as of late, PRP is excited about the year to come.
“It looks to be a good year, if it continues the way it’s been going,” DeArmond said. “It’s been very good.”