Smaller name, bigger goals – January 22, 2007

You can’t reinvent the wheel, but that’s not stopping specialty wheel manufacturer Douglas Wheel from embarking on an ambitious campaign to rebrand the company, expand its wheel lines and explore diverse new product offerings.
“The market has matured and the competition has become formidable,” said Paet Hidalgo a strategic marketing consultant working for Vista, Calif.-based DWT. “It was time to make a recommitment and rejuvenation of the brand.”
For starters, that means shortening the company name to DWT, which stands for Douglas Wheel Technology, and modernizing the company’s logo for a more iconic look. Under what is now DWT, high-performance wheels will be one division under a larger, more diversified company.
“We haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater,” Hidalgo added. “What we hope to be able to do is create other components that have synergy with DWT’s products, but that are operated as individual components under that umbrella.”
Creation of a limited DWT men and women’s apparel line will be the first step toward that diversification. It’s a move Hidalgo says will help the company be viewed as a more authentic brand in the eyes of both consumers and racers.
Initially, that could include about a dozen apparel pieces, from beanies and jackets to smaller accessories like wallets and key chains.
Product-specific additions are also on the table and could include two- and four-wheel carrying bags.
“We’re not looking at coming out of the gates with a complete [apparel] line,” Hidalgo said. “We want to come out with some stuff that we think is relevant.”
Other products will be coming to market, but details have yet to be announced.
Hidalgo said the changes are the biggest in the history of the company, which began selling high-performance wheels in 1991 and has previously focused on performance-oriented sheet wheels. The evolving business plan, he said, runs through 2009 and will include “consistent product launches of new and innovative products.”
The company also plans to enter the utility side of the ATV wheel market, which is exemplified by more highly stylized wheels sold by competitors such as ITP, AMS and Vision Custom Wheels.
It has involved hiring new engineers with a background in cast manufacturing and working with a new extrusion manufacturing and 3D-modeling process that affords more flexibility to create dramatic wheel designs. The existing sport wheel portfolio will be fully rebranded to make the line more consumer-friendly.
All preceded by DWT, the company’s new ATV wheel line now includes Alumilite, LiteCast, MagTech and BluePrint — names designed to direct consumers to the correct product.
Alumilite wheels are roll-forged extruded aluminum sheet wheels, LiteCast are portion-formed cast aluminum wheels, MagTech are cast magnesium utility and performance wheels and BluePrint are machined surface racing wheels.
DWT’s new corporate Web site launches Feb. 5 and will coincide with the company’s desire to complete the rebranding effort in the first quarter of the year.
“The components that go into making a good Web site require all the same core components that are necessary to spread the word about [the] brand,” Hidalgo said. “We are in essence concurrently creating all of the information that you will see reverberated in print media, sponsorships and virtually everything that we do in the public eye.”

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