SEMA News—May 2016
By Clint Simone
Cap World Celebrates 30 Years of Growth and Service
This showroom, located at Cap World’s location in Sarasota, Florida, offers a wide range of name-brand truck, van and SUV products.
Cap World is a SEMA-member company specializing in truck caps, truck trailers and other truck accessories—or, as the company’s website proclaims, “everything but the truck.” Alongside a recent 30-year anniversary milestone came recognition from the Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA), as Cap World was named Retailer of the Year for 2015. Each of those accomplishments explains how Cap World has stood out as a retail success story.
The story of Cap World is one of organic growth—a store-by-store expansion that has seen the highs and lows of the industry over the course of its existence. Beginning in Massachusetts, Cap World now offers 12 locations along the East Coast. The company’s catalog of parts and services now encompasses virtually the entire truck, van and SUV markets. SEMA News spoke with the president of Cap World, Charley Holden, who outlined the company’s distinct history with SEMA while also pointing out a few tips on retail success in the process.
SEMA News: 2015 was a good year for you. Cap World won the TORA Retailer of the Year award, and the company celebrated 30 years in business. Can you explain your feelings after such tremendous accomplishments?
Charley Holden: I speak for everyone at Cap World when I say just how excited we are to have won this award. It is a great testament to our company and how we operate. In 2014, Cap World was honored by TORA at the SEMA Show by winning the Ron Webster award for engineering. This award was granted to us because three Cap World employees—Ron DiVincenzo, Mike Wismer and Mike Ford—invented the seven-way interface harness. This invention made it possible to wire a brake light and dome light on a cap without splicing any wires. This year, as you pointed out, Cap World was also honored by TORA at the SEMA Show by being selected National Retailer of the Year. Both of these awards are a credit to our first-rate, dedicated team of hard-working employees, our biggest asset.
SN: Explain what 30 years of growth looks like and how you have reached where you are now.
Each of Cap World’s 12 East Coast locations offers truck accessories and trailers in addition to a full installation center.
CH: We started with one location on Route 1 in Saugus, Massachusetts, in 1984. Two years later, we opened our second store in Norwood, Massachusetts. Today, we have 12 retail locations in four states—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland and Florida—along with our corporate office in Melrose, Massachusetts. We currently have 69 employees. Additionally, we purchase products from 68 vendors. These vendors are made up of manufacturers, suppliers and distributors.
In the early years, truck caps were our main product. Thus, the name Cap World. If we were naming the company today, it probably would not be called Cap World because of our current diverse product line. Today, we sell utility and cargo trailers, bed protection, snow plows, tonneau covers, steps, lights and everything that goes on a pickup truck, SUV or van. Our motto is “everything but the truck.”
SN: What do you believe sets Cap World apart as a truck-accessory retailer?
CH: Not to sound redundant, but I feel that it is our great group of employees that sets us apart. Cap World employees truly are our biggest asset. We represent the best and strongest name manufacturers. In many cases, we are like a partnership with key manufacturers. We are a company of “systems.”
Training all employees is a continuing process. It takes time to develop and learn the systems that make us run. Our webpage, www.capworld.com, is a vital link to our success. Search-engine optimization gives us important information about our customers and drives them to our brick-and-mortar stores. We also do customer surveys. If we find dissatisfied customers, we try to turn them into “raving fans” of Cap World.
SN: With 30 years under your belt, what does the future look like for the company?
CH: We have certainly seen our industry’s ups and downs. Presently, business has never been better, and I believe that the future looks bright. Pickup sales are at a record high, and gas prices continue to drop. New trucks, such as the GM Colorado and Canyon, are selling like hotcakes. Toyota has updated its Tacoma, and Honda has developed a new Ridgeline pickup. The Ford F-150 continues to lead in sales, while Ford is also talking about a new Ranger model. Lastly, other players such as Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz talk about introducing new pickups into the market, which could bring a new customer base. To date, Cap World has had an amazing run, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.
SN: How has being a SEMA member or TORA council member contributed to Cap World’s growth?
CH: SEMA has played a big part in Cap World’s success. We have been very active in the TORA council. I served as president of the Truck Cap & Accessory Alliance [TCAA, precursor to TORA] when it was a stand-alone trade organization. At that point in time, we ran our own trade show. I remained chairman of TORA for one year when our organization was transitioning into SEMA.
There is no doubt in my mind that the old TCAA would have not been able to sustain itself. SEMA was a lifesaver. A few years later, Ron DiVincenzo, Cap World’s general manager, worked his way up the ladder to become chairman. I know of no other company that has had two people do this. As Cap World gave to SEMA, SEMA gave to Cap World.
SN: Lastly, what advice would you offer retailers looking to hone their businesses?
CH: You know, one of our biggest challenges has been finding quality new employees. Learning what makes Millennials tick has also been a challenge. Seminars at the SEMA Show have been enlightening in that regard. Apart from that, I truly believe that getting involved with SEMA is the single best thing Cap World has done. We have a network of dealers all over the United States and Canada.
Go to the SEMA Show! Attend seminars and get involved. Each of these things will help to build a company in the right direction.
To learn more about Cap World and the products it offers, visit www.capworld.com.