This is an odd blog for me to write but I get some pretty snarky emails and phone calls sometimes from folks that want to prove they know a lot or are flat out bossy. Frankly, they can suck wind. Wow, how can a business say that? Well, if you have followed BenzForce from to beginning you would understand but given the growth of the company and its current online presence, I wouldn’t expect many to get it, thus this blog. I hope to explain money, competition, the company mission and ultimately what to expect from BenzForce.
BenzForce didn’t just happen. It was the result of a bunch of low quality, boring and embarrassing videos I put out on YouTube and Facebook. I had no clue what the hell I was doing while building my w123 with an om606 but the concept resonated with people. Trying to source parts in the USA was an issue in the early days, so I started buying in bulk, mostly at the request of my audience, and selling the excess off. Later I would bring on the likes of F-Tune, Dieselmeken and others. They, plus Dan at BaggedBenzUK, were always supportive and helped me a lot.
During that time, I had a small Oracle consulting practice specializing in Product Lifecycle Management (explained below). I had a handful of hired guns and we performed technical services for the who’s who in the niche. It was what funded BenzForce and my car. I eventually gave up the practice to gain some of my life back, but the skillset is still what allows me to live independently from BenzForce. I DO NOT need BenzForce money at all. So long as it provides for itself, money does not impact my decisions other than product viability.
Most companies in this niche have owners that live on the income from their venture, but that can quickly change things. Currently, I have a very relaxed return policy, relatively low prices and try to be as accommodating as possible with my time. However, if BenzForce had to become money centric then I may have to resort to raising prices, backstabbing competitors, and offering subpar support after the sale. I have seen vendors do this first hand and have been on the receiving end of defamation. Obviously not everyone in this niche does this but I am willing to bet that these traits resonate a little with some of you.
I like the fact that I am not forced to compete. I can choose to do so when I see a better way at solving a problem, lower cost, etc but competition is not viewed as a threat to the existence of BenzForce as a company. Don’t get me wrong a couple of the personalities out there really rub me the wrong way but I can rest at night knowing my product and service decisions were not based on income. I doubt they can they say that?
The original BenzForce stated vision is to: “foster a cult following and community for old school Mercedes Benz performance vehicles with BenzForce supplying their product needs, advice and build assistance.” What it doesn’t say is to gain profits through product sales. It is to supply product needs. Why is that important? It is significant because excessive profits do not influence my attitude (most of the time) or my actions with respect to pricing or competition.
So why do I do it then. Hmm … good question. I used to really enjoy it but honestly it has become a tremendous amount of work. Many times I have stated that I have never received anything from the business but that is not entirely true … here is what I get:
- Builds. When someone posts a picture of their build filled with my parts and they are so proud of it, it makes me proud. That is the big gotcha - that is why I do it.
- What I need. That’s right, I am the original BenzForce consumer. I make what I want, what I need, how I want to make it, with the quality and price points I want. I approach all parts like that. I also take the parts I need from inventory as needed, though its not too much anymore 😊
- People. I now have hundreds of customers in at least 35 countries. It’s crazy to think about but some have become good friends. People is how this began. Somewhere along the way I think the volume of messages made me lose sight of that but its all coming back into focus. People, building something with parts we provide is the reason for this existing.
BTW, "we" can mean a number of things. It usually means me and my family but sometimes that is extended to the engineers I use too.
What to expect
What is in the future? That is a good question. I don’t see an upside to changing things. I am working to resurrect my old consulting company. Things with Oracle have changed thanks to the cloud so the cost of entry is very steep, but I have a lot of firsts (and onlys) for Oracle Cloud PLM partners so if I can get it off the ground, I think I can dominate once again. The technical challenge is fun, its much (much) more lucrative than car parts, but I can’t say that it has me jumping up and down with excitement. Time will tell but for now, that’s the day-to-day plan.
Most may not want to hear it but I expect a recession. A big one. If that happens, it will be the golden opportunity and the conservative lifestyle we have lived our entire lives will pay major dividends. I am poised to get back into real estate and trading again.
In short, I am not your mechanic, I am not a drifter, I am not your tuner. I sell high quality parts for my (and your) build. I don't need attitude, I don't need your money. What I want is to help you build something cool and something you are proud of.
So what is PLM?
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a discipline that encompasses the lifecycle of product development. It captures product ideation through commercialization and from concept through obsolescence. It is everything that has to do with making a product: suppliers, manufacturers, manufactured parts, bills of materials, revision control, change management, quality control, CAD, documentation, project management, etc. EVERYTHING. This is highly relevant to BenzForce. I see how multibillion dollar a year global product companies run their businesses (process) and who they do business with including supplier and manufacturer management.
My business provided technical services to Oracle partners and private companies from 2012 to around 2016. We handled installations, upgrades, data migrations, integrations, extensions to enforce business processes, etc. I had two separate full-time consultants and another 3-4 on the hook to provide services as needed.
I have been in this space for over 15 years now.