Growth in sales, OEM work leads to new hires
As the sales of side-by-sides are surging, OEMs and dealers aren’t the only ones benefitting. Accessory-manufacturer Pro Armor has seen “unbelievable, phenomenal” growth as of late, sales and marketing manager Fred Brayton said.
Because sales of Pro Armor products are increasing at such an intense clip, the company has had to hire 30-40 new employees in the past year, bringing its total workforce to nearly 100. And more are still being hired.
“Just for current and future projects, we need to add another dozen-plus employees,” Brayton explained.
Pro Armor is most well known for its doors, cab enclosures and harnesses, but the company has also been adding other products lately.
“We’re extremely innovative with new product,” Brayton said.
This past winter, Pro Armor added suspension seats to its offerings, and full production and delivery of those began this spring.
“We’re up and running with multiple seat colors. We’re able to do different colors, embroidery, custom seats, more than one style of seat,” Brayton said. “Whatever the OEMs are doing, we doing that kind of thing.”
The company focuses mostly on innovation, value-adds and R&D. Later this summer, Pro Armor plans to launch a roll cage that has already been tested to the specifications OEMs will have to meet by 2014.
“Just coming up with new ideas is great, but you have to make sure you come out with a quality process, so you have to do due diligence,” Brayton explained.
Value-adds on the doors include graphic kits, increase storage, a net system and improved hardware. Each harness includes a LED light and a cell phone or iPod holder, and the seats feature a quick-release system, lanyards already fished through the seats, ID pockets, goggle holders and seat warmers.
“We already try to have a competitive advantage when doing products, and that kind of helps lead into the innovation part,” Brayton said.
Once a product is developed, it undergoes extensive testing by Pro Armor staff, end users and a third-party facility. Each product is also tested on multiple racing circuits with several racing styles, and each is exposed to mud, desert and other natural elements.
“Anyone who has been in any of these cars, we put them through hell,” Brayton said.
Because of this attention to detail, many custom builders choose Pro Armor parts. OEMs also turn to Pro Armor for some of their accessories.
“I firmly believe we’re the go-to for OEMs. They use a lot of people, but for many of them, we have some big, big things coming up,” Brayton revealed.
That the company is chosen by builders and OEMs, the return and warranty ratio is less than 1 percent and customer service is strong leads dealers to be confident in carrying Pro Armor products.
“We feel like we support them, and they support us just as much back, so we do incentives. We have a really great program in place with dealers with awesome incentives,” Brayton said, adding that Pro Armor is always looking to be sold in more dealerships.
He said Pro Armor’s average side-by-side accessory customer is a middle-aged professional. Those customers used to focus mostly on accessorizing Polaris’ RZRs, but Brayton said products for the Arctic Cat Wildcat and the Can-Am Commander are also growing in popularity. Those buyers are leading the pack in increasing side-by-side vehicle and accessory sales, and Brayton expects this trend to continue.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “I firmly believe this industry is going to double in size. The side-by-side industry as a whole definitely has a lot more to give.”