ARMO named Auto Custom Carpets as the council's latest member spotlight company. In this week's issue, company sales manager Randall Bates shares the company's breakthrough moment and latest projects.
SEMA: Tell us the story of your business. How did you start?
Randall Bates: Auto Custom Carpets (ACC) was founded by Jack Holland and incorporated in October of 1977. Holland had been in the auto trim business for many years before starting ACC. He started out by purchasing the carpet used in the molding operation from OEM suppliers such as Collins & Aikman, J.P. Stevens and Masland. In April of 1984 he purchased Academy Carpets, Inc. in Dalton, GA, and began tufting his own carpet. In January of 1986 he purchased the plant that was formerly operated by the Automotive Division of E.T. Barwick Mills.
For many years, this plant was a prime carpet supplier to General Motors and Chrysler Corp. Through the years ACC has made other acquisitions to become the largest producer of replacement automotive carpets in the world. Today, Auto Custom Carpets is led by President and CEO Ken Howell and employs over 180 workers across two states and five locations. Our corporate office is located in Oxford, AL. We also have three production facilities in Anniston and one in Lafayette, GA. We offer over 40,000 flooring applications to fit vehicles ranging from the 1940's to current-day models. Each is offered in its original color and material and is custom made to meet or exceed OEM specifications.
SEMA: What was your breakthrough moment?
RB: ACC has made many acquisitions through the years with the purchase of Auto Carpet System and the Trim Parts carpet line being the leading edge of the advancement of the ACC brand. With those two companies coming under the ACC brand and style of operations, ACC has gained and maintained the dominant positioning in automotive flooring.
SEMA: Tell us about your business now in 2022 and what projects are you working on?
RB: In 2020 ACC bought and started renovations on a 186,000-sq.-ft building in Oxford, AL. This is a massive undertaking and is led by the COO Brad Williams. Operations will be moved in phases putting the majority of the ACC operations under one roof. While undertaking the renovations, ACC has seen an unprecedented increase in business over the last two years.
SEMA: Tell us about a particular project, product or build you are proud of.
RB: The product that ACC is proudest of isn't one thing you can hold in hand. It's the process of doing business day-in and day-out that they have created through the years. Every order is custom-made when it's placed. ACC keeps zero stock, so at order entry they cut the carpet, mold it, place a heel pad, trim it, bind it and ship it, with most orders going out the door with 72 hours of order entry.
SEMA: What advice do you have for young professionals contemplating a career in the automotive aftermarket, particularly in the restoration segment?
RB: There are so many different roles to play in the restoration segment, not just the flashy parts like builders and YouTube stars driving cars around. There are roles that need to be filled and pay very well. Everything from welders, upholstery, electricians, accountants and computer programmers make up the restoration, hotrod and automotive aftermarket. The only advice is to find something you like to do and become the best at it. The automotive industry is vast, complex and is ever-changing, it's also a great family to be a part of.
Fill out an ARMO-member spotlight form to highlight how your company is contributing to the specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are eligible to be featured on ARMO's social media, SEMA News and future ARMO member updates.