Retail Spotlight: Galpin Auto Sports
Embracing the Automotive Aftermarket Gets Results
The retail space at GAS sells branded merchandise in addition to a wide variety of aftermarket products, including wheels, off-road and performance.
When the first Galpin car dealership opened in 1946, the vision was to provide excellent customer service and a unique, impactful buying experience to the greater Los Angeles area. Now, decades later, the Galpin name still encompasses its surrounding community as part of its core identity, but it offers far more to its customers than just a place to buy a new car.
Over the years, Galpin’s growth came as it took on new projects and added personnel. The dealership expanded into multiple OEM brands and eventually into the car customization niche—which led to the opening of Galpin Auto Sports in 2006, the company’s own in-house customization center. Today, Galpin Auto Sports, also known as GAS, is one of most recognizable customization shops in the world and has tackled automotive builds of all varieties and purposes.
GAS President Steve McCord has been with the Galpin family of dealerships for more than 30 years and has personally witnessed much of the company’s expansion. SEMA News sat down with McCord to learn more about how GAS has become such a champion of the automotive aftermarket through its customization work.
SEMA News: Please share the details on how Galpin began as a singular car dealership and has since expanded to include GAS.
Steve McCord: It starts with passionate family ownership. From the very beginning, the Boeckmann family—which owns Galpin—was passionate about cars and passionate about its customers. That recipe has stayed the same regardless of how much we expand or take on new roles.
Also part of the GAS facility, the company’s museum is home to some of cars the dealer has been involved with over the years and was also the location for the popular MTV series, “Pimp My Ride.”
In the early years—especially the ’60s and ’70s—Galpin started to really immerse itself in car culture. We sold super-customized surfer vans and other vehicles that were iconic in that era.
That practice of selling a tricked-out version of a popular vehicle to our customers became such a phenomenon that it eventually took on its own name: “Galponizing.” We still use that term today to describe customizing a vehicle or putting our own Galpin touch on it. Eventually, customers wanted Galponized vehicles of all types, so the Bachman family decided to open GAS in 2006, and it is now our headquarters for all things Galponizing.
SN: How does the GAS business formula work?
SM: Today, GAS works directly with customers all over the world who want a custom car. We get thousands of inquiries each month, ranging from minor performance/cosmetic upgrades to complete bumper-to-bumper bespoke builds. Of those inquiries, I would say more than a thousand cars each month end up receiving some form of Galponization. One of the ways we do that is by working with a range of dealers in the area, allowing customers to buy a car right off the lot brand new and have it sent straight to our facility for work.
Additionally, GAS is one of the few customization shops that actually provides a warranty behind the work that we do. The Galpin Auto Sports limited warranty is three months or 3,000 miles—whichever comes first—after the installation of merchandise or completion of service on the vehicle. Though we do stress that this is subject to the terms and conditions of any manufacturer’s warranty for merchandise.
An example of a “Galponized” vehicle—a Ford F-150 painted in Gulf Racing colors.
I know the fact that Galpin offers a warranty helps our customers feel more inclined to modify their cars, and oppositely, that some people are afraid to modify their cars thinking that they would void their warranty in doing so. We have our warranties in place to hopefully help with this.
SN: SEMA News focuses on best business practices throughout the automotive aftermarket. What are a few of GAS’s best practices that stand out?
SM: I think it’s worth mentioning again that it really does start with passionate family ownership. If you are not overly excited about what your business does each day, I don’t think you stand a very good chance at making it in the long-run. But beyond that, everything should revolve around the customer.
It says it in our own mission statement that we approach each customer with a servant’s attitude. That is, we are not happy until they are happy. There is a reason why people from so far decide to come to us for their projects. They trust us, and they know that the job will be done correctly in a clean facility with knowledgeable staff.
|Galpin Auto Sports|
And speaking of the customer, it isn’t just the individual customer that we try and interact with. It is the collective community. For decades now, the Galpin family of dealerships has been involved with community outreach and interaction. We have hosted museum exhibits, community festivals and much more. It is our intention to work directly with our surrounding community and interact with them as much as possible.
SN: What does the future look like for GAS?
SM: The future holds many different possibilities for us as a company. The GAS name has grown big enough now that we have had other dealers inquire about franchising their own GAS facility, so that is perhaps a direction for us to go. As we continue our work, though, I think it is important that we remember to stay at the top of our game with what we do. New trends and technology are always coming, and it is our job to make sure that we know what they are. At the end of the day, if our builds are not OEM-quality, then we are not doing our jobs correctly. With the way technology is progressing, I think anything we take on in the future will be very exciting to see.