2019 in ReviewIn 2019, we achieved the following.
- Identified a mechanical engineering partner with a background in Automotive design that has designed a number of parts for us now
- Established a strong working relationship with our CNC contract manufacturer
- Switched eCommerce platforms and built a lot of automation for pricing and inventory management surrounding aftermarket performance parts shipped from our distributors.
- Exceeded turbo and pump sales goals by August!
- Made progress on the Dyno car after working through unforeseen title issues
- Went to SEMA. Took a lot of educational classes and met a few vendors that my provide value down the line
- Aftermarket Part Suppliers
- Built a trusted relationship with our Holset supplier. Our order process has become very easy. Thanks to problems with the US Customs and freight forwarders we have been able to establish a high level of trust with each other by working through our adverse situation.
- Was accepted by two of the largest aftermarket performance part distributors in the USA despite not having a retail location. This has expanded the product line substantially
- BenzForce Products
- Brought our own branded H-Beam rods to market and started a discussion with a rod manufacturer in the USA that has been involved in racing for over 50 years
- Created Holset turbine v-band and compressor accessories
- Revised the om606 oil fittings
- ALDA cap creation for the om603 pump upgrades
It was not all roses though, here are the thorns from 2019:
- Dyno car is progressing way to slow. Initially, there was an issue with the title that took about 3 months to clear up. Once that was done, the car fell to the bottom of the list in terms of priority and the scope of work on the car increased
- No manual transmission offerings were created
- I did not progress to offer custom work. My goal was to take on a couple of basic projects last year but that did not materialize.
What does 2020 hold for BenzForce?
Overall 2019 was a good year; all money was reinvested in inventory and working capital in preparation for the road ahead. There have been several suppliers that feed the Mercedes diesel niche but all indications are that the outlook for that market is at its on a downward trend. Supply is becoming scarce, especially on the om606 side, and most of the things to be done, already have been done. Innovation has been pushed to the back seat and vendors, BenzForce included, are just rehashing the same old things – rods are the perfect example. In addition, with Greta and the other environmentalist becoming haters of Diesel technology, registration of modified vehicles is becoming more problematic.
I want to finish what I have started with the dynocar. So many people spew horsepower and torque numbers in forums but there is more to know. I have yet to see concrete information on the effects of changing a single controlled variable (pump, turbo, meth, nitrous, etc) on the engine’s operating parameters and output. I want to do this for the om617 and om606 then its time to progress to gas.
Here are the goals for 2020:
- Secure a property. Things have been set in motion to switch up our lifestyle to either include a new house and commercial property or a larger property with enough room for a decent shop. Ideally, the commercial property would be the way to go as rental income from additional buildings on the property would pay for the building I use over time.
- Build out the offering. I now have well over 300,000 aftermarket parts available to me. I hope to build out the forced induction, engine, brakes and suspension categories with everything relevant to Mercedes or universal products that can be used in our builds. I also need to go in and tag products with chassis and/or universal fitment.
- Consistent pricing. I have worked to give the best deals I can. My goal is to simply offer all products at the lowest price I can rather than package deals. It is simpler for the consumer to just buy what they need and it is easier for me from an inventory perspective. I will still offer flash sales and other price breaks when a surplus of inventory is on hand from misaligned forecasting but I want to do a better job of making sure everyone pays the same price.
This year I would like to wrap up all development and manufacturing for om617 and om606 parts. I expect this to include the following but may change based on what I need for my own use of these engines in the dynocar. Other vendors have some of these but aesthetics and quality are pretty important to me so I would want them built my way.
- Turbo drain tube with AN fitting (pan drain tube)
- A turbo builders kit that includes oil lines and oil drain
- Possibly a cooling option or at least more information on intercoolers to fit in unmodified engine bays
- I would like to look into making custom intake manifolds. I do not have a casting partner but I think it would be interesting to financially vette the idea.
- Still considering a manifold kit or reselling prebuilt manifolds
- May move forward with more rods and springs made in the USA.
- Bolt-on manual transmission option. I would like to leverage a stock flywheel, clutch and bearing in the solution and have a custom bell housing. This is now a low priority as other manufacturers already have solutions though I would prefer something simpler with more off the shelf parts
- Possibly a throttle linkage kit that can be used both on the 617 and 606. This would be a cable linkage and I would like to include a throttle position sensor option and ball bearings at the swivel points.
- I am thinking of possibilities with turbine housings. The only HY Holset I can get is a knock off, which I am not interested in, so I am considering my options.
- A HE221 builders kit for T3 connections.
Moving to Gas: Nothing has changed here and I do not know if it will happen in 2020 but gas will happen. As of now, the m272 is what I have been thinking the most about. The m103, m104 and AMG models are pretty much covered by Turbo Bandit, Weisco and others. What about the common modern chassis cars? The m272 has a huge audience and no representation in the market.
Customer Builds: I posted a picture of my w123 sitting on our storage lot on Instagram a while back and someone said, “Isn’t that your daily driver?” I didn’t respond but the answer is: Yes, it should be. With the dynocar taking up the garage and no parking allowed in the streets in the neighborhood, we cannot accommodate another car at our present residence. Not having space I need has been a huge problem and has prohibited me from accepting work from others. If we can secure new properties this year that may change.
One thing that needs to change is the talk of money. BenzForce is a private company, not public and there is no obligation for me to report numbers. Its private. I went to lunch with a BenzForce follower this week and he was adamant about knowing how much money BenzForce makes. He is not the only one. In fact, it seems that someone asks me almost weekly about it. That information will be off the table going forward.
I think people think they can run out and just start a business and instantly achieve what BenzForce, Dieselmeken, Dieselpump UK, and others have but knowing sales numbers are only part of the business equation. There are so many other aspects to the business and the time it takes to build a reputation.
Anyhow, here are the numbers:
- Last year compared to 2018
- Sales increased by 321%
- Orders increased by 436%
- Returning customer rate increased by 28%
- The average order value decreased by 22%. This is misleading given the increase in sales volume and number of orders.
- Average order value … ha, wouldn’t you like to know? All I will say is that it is many hundreds of dollars.
- Misc. 2019
- Product line only catered to 2 different engine platforms and a limited forced induction selection
- Moving to the new platform took me offline for almost a month hurting sales
- Three sales channels: Amazon (testing), eBay and www.benzforce.com
- Continued operating with no debit. All revolving credit paid in full at each statement interval. Revolving credit is used as an easier way for suppliers to charge an account in an ongoing manner rather than collecting payment for each transaction. This is how our Bosch partner and all distributors operate.
- This year
- The new platform has over 3000 products on it right now. Not all are turned on yet but those are relevant products for Mercedes applications or universal products that are applicable. There are many more I have excluded because I do not feel they are in the realm of “performance”
- More BenzForce branded product offerings and kits will be added this year
The foundation has been laid with a strong focus on process, offering, customer service, and vendor selection. The addition, of high quality and higher value content for awareness and instruction will further strenghten the brand and ultimately sales. As it is, BenzForce is now a strong global brand and if we keep doing these things and stay true to the vision then the potential is incredible.
Keep in mind that BenzForce did not originate with the hopes have generating buckets of money. Its purpose was to provide products for people like me that didn’t know where to turn. Also, sales do not equal profit. They are two totally different things. I have very little overhead so I don’t have to price products very high. The expectation is to continue ordering custom parts in obscene quantities to keep prices down. Also if (hopefully when) we can offer build services the game will completely change.
Please focus on the vision, what we can offer to help with your build and no more money questions please.
That’s all folks! I invite you to drop me a line or share your thoughts.