Local employees assure top-notch quality
Spectro is a well-known brand throughout the powersports industry, but company president Alex Josefson says one of the most surprising facts he often shares with people is that only
20 people work for Spectro. And of those 20, only five work hands-on in manufacturing — one blender, three packagers and one shipper.
Spectro has operated out of Connecticut for its entire 50 years as a company. The business was launched in Bradford in 1966 and moved to the current facility in Brookfield in 1975. In the early 2000s, Spectro added more warehouse space on to its Brookfield headquarters.
“In this facility here, we blend the products ourselves; we package them, and then we ship them out,” Josefson told Powersports Business.
While there are several factors that allow Spectro to stay in the U.S., blending the oil in America is extremely important to the company.
Since Josefson’s grandfather Robert Wehman launched Spectro in the ‘60s, the company has been based on quality. Wehman worked for Saab before launching his own company, and he took what he learned about oil in the automotive business and brought those best practices to the powersports industry.
“Coming from the automotive side, he saw how certain products were being cheapened to make better profit margins or to beat out competitors. He saw inferior products being made and how it was really hurting the automotive industry, and he tried to fight against that. He was always a quality-centric guy, making the best quality product available and teaching the consumer,” Josefson said.
Blending, bottling and packaging the oil
in-house allows Spectro to keep a keen eye on its quality, which the brand has built its reputation on. Because Spectro oil can cost $1 to $2 per quart more than other oil, the company has to prove its effectiveness and teach customers the importance of using high-quality oil to maintain healthy engines.
“I always tell people we are the cheapest form of insurance because if you’re using a poor-quality oil and not changing it enough and doing all these things to save money, you’re going to end up costing yourself more in the long run. You spend a little bit less here and there, but it ends up hurting you,” Josefson said.
During the recession, he noticed a decrease in the number of people who were willing to pay more for American-made products, but he has seen that trend come back. After all, Josefson explained, at even $2 more per quart and two oil changes per year, it would only cost $16 more annually for an average rider to use Spectro oil instead of a cheaper brand.
“In the last year or so, there’s really been a resurgence of American pride and desire to purchase American products and support that. It’s something we love to see,” he said.
To entice those customers who are mindful to buy from American companies, Spectro has an American flag on each bottle, with a message that says, “Made in the USA.”
“It’s something we’re really proud of, and something we want to continue forever. And even in Connecticut, we’ve been there since Day One. It hasn’t been easy, but we love doing it,” Josefson said.
Josefson admits that blending oil in the U.S. is easier than manufacturing parts in America.
“Oil is so heavy and costly to ship that to try to have it done in a country like China, or to try to have it done outside of the U.S. and have it shipped in, you’re kind of negating any costs that you would gain from not having it here. That’s the biggest thing we have going for us. It’s not like it’s a small plastic part or something of that nature,” he said.
Spectro is able to develop its products with a lean staff of 20 because they’re focused on efficiency.
“We’ve set up our entire line and our production facility for efficiency, and that’s really where we’re able to stay in business in Connecticut and in the U.S.,” Josefson said.
In addition to its manufacturing, Spectro also houses its customer service operations in Connecticut.
“Because we take our products so seriously, and we know them so well, if somebody calls our 1-800 number or calls any of our phone numbers, it comes right to the factory here in Brookfield. We do our own tech calls,” he added.
Since its inception, Spectro has put an emphasis on taking care of its employees.
“We do pay all of our employees a good, livable wage. We support everybody. Everybody has health insurance through us. There’s a reason why a majority of our employees have worked for us for 10, 20, or even 30-plus years. It’s because we take care of our employees. So it’s just a different model of business,” Josefson said.
In fact, three years ago, Spectro’s oil blender retired after 47 years with the company. Justin Provost, the new blender, trained under the original blender for a year and a half before taking the reigns.
“In 50 years of business, we’re only on our second guy blending the product,” Josefson exclaimed.
When Spectro asks its customers to buy American-made, the company also heeds its own advice.
“It’s not just our products that are made here in the U.S., but also most of our components come from the North American market,” Josefson reported. “We don’t go to China; we don’t go to the Middle East; we don’t go to South America. Everything we do is from the U.S. or Canada, pretty much — all the bottles, caps, labels, boxes, all the componentry comes local also. Our No. 1 thing is we want to do quality products; we want to try to support the U.S. as much as possible.”
Though some products may cost more coming from the U.S., Spectro wants to deliver high-quality oil in high-quality packaging.
“It’s why we work with a lot of local businesses in terms of our suppliers to make sure that we’re getting the best quality stuff, that there’s no issues with the manufacturing on their end and then with ours. Because our word to our customers, we live on that, so we can’t afford to let even a little issue happen,” Josefson said.
If anything were to be suspect with the materials, Spectro staff can quickly visit its suppliers.
“For us, I can drive to three or four of our suppliers probably within a 10-hour window, so if I have any issues, I’m there, I’m checking it. Luckily, I haven’t had any,” he said.
To date, Spectro has yet to recall any of its products, but processes and procedures are in place for when potential issues are brought up. Each bottle, for example, features a five-digit quality-assurance code on the back, so Spectro can track it back to its origins.
“We legitimately care about our products,” Josefson said. “It’s interesting to see this place when somebody calls up with what they think is an issue with the oil because it’s like full-on lockdown mode. I’m talking like DEFCON 1 at the White House because it’s such a rarity, and it’s just interesting to see everybody just doing research, and we start sending the product out and double-checking, and we’ll call back product from a couple of different locations just to see if it is a systemic thing. Not once yet has it actually been an issue with the oil. It’s been some other extenuating circumstance.”
He added, “We take our products very seriously here.”