By Chad Simon
Velocity Automotive Group Serves Up American Performance in Europe
An automated 11,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Germany houses parts from more than 500 manufacturers.
Catering to a small niche market in Europe for the past 10 years, Velocity Automotive Group, based in Munich, imports and distributes parts from more than 500 manufacturers for American performance cars and trucks. This particular niche revolves around the Mustang, which is wildly popular in America but not nearly as common in Europe. However, according to Johannes Crepon, the company’s owner, the American performance market in Europe is still exciting because it’s so diverse. The customer base ranges from aging enthusiasts who have always dreamed of owning and restoring a vintage Mustang to Millennials who prefer late-model Camaros, Corvettes and Ram trucks.
Extending the Portfolio
Velocity’s assorted offerings include repair, performance, restoration and custom modification parts. Some of the company’s best-selling parts are light modifications for late-model cars, brakes and suspension upgrades and other small modifications that enhance a car’s performance and appearance. The retailer is currently working to extend its portfolio to be able to serve all cars and trucks.
“We are focused on specific cars and not the manufacturer lines, so we sell a little bit of everybody’s parts,” Crepon said. “Since we already have relationships with all these manufacturers and vendors, we want to sell everything they offer. Our goal is to get our hands on everything that is out there in the market.”
With 11 employees, the company operates three facilities, including an automated 11,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and an office building. A small consolidation warehouse in the United States enables the company to order, gather and ship every part from any vendor in the United States and Canada to Germany for distribution in Europe on a weekly basis.
A Velocity employee meets with a client in the customer receiving area to discuss customization options.
Velocity’s latest build is a ’66 Ford Mustang Trackday Edition. Modifications include an independent rear suspension, fuel injection and a rollcage.
According to Crepon, the financial crisis—which didn’t hit the American car business in Germany until 2012—was the biggest challenge he’d ever faced. Velocity experienced a lull that year, but since then, sales have increased by 15% per year.
In addition to the recession, Velocity’s “permanent” challenge is constantly coping with small businesses coming into the market that destroy pricing by disregarding high shipping costs and customs fees.
“They’re in business for half a year and then they disappear,” Crepon said. “They make the market appear to be lower priced than it actually is, and once one disappears, another one pops up.”
Spread the Word
Owner: Johannes Crepon.
• Sales are up 15% per year since Germany’s 2012 financial crisis.
• Offers customers a high level of professionalism, with fast delivery and reliable service.
• Participates as a receiver in the SEMA Data Co-op.
• Operates three facilities, including an automated 11,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and an office building in Germany and a small consolidation warehouse in the United States.
• “Permanent” challenge: small businesses that come and go and destroy pricing by making the market appear to be lower priced than it actually is.
Crepon believes that his business’ grade of professionalism is what sets it apart.
“We are not like the little Mustang specialist shop that you can only call in by phone and order your parts,” he said. “We try to offer a high level of service, which is why we’re growing.”
The retailer is able to offer such a large quantity of parts because of its ability to move them, which benefits the customer because parts are delivered faster and service is more reliable, according
“We go one step farther, making each process in the customer’s purchase an experience,” Crepon said.
Crepon has attended the SEMA Show every year that Velocity has been in business. He uses the Show as a conduit for creating and fostering vendor and manufacturer relationships. Velocity also builds show cars as a means of gaining media publicity, and they are displayed at trade shows and conventions throughout the year. Satisfied customers are encouraged to spread the word, which Crepon considers his best form of advertising. The company also engages the public via social media, blogging and a newsletter that provides updates on new parts, specials and industry news, including when new Mustang models are being launched.
To enable future growth, Velocity participates as a receiver in the SEMA Data Co-op. Crepon would like to see more parts enriched with valuable data to make it easier for customers to find the correct parts, and he believes that the SEMA Data Co-op is a great source for
As a seasoned retailer who has experienced the economic highs and lows of the past 10 years, Crepon suggested that novices get their pricing right if they want to survive and also search for good partnerships.
“I see a lot of people out there trying to do everything on their own,” he said. “It works to some extent, but in total, it’s not really what you want to look for.”