Mastering Their Craft, Eager to Expand Their Network
Envy Motorsports exists today as Tucson’s go-to shop for tuning and vehicle installations—especially within the Jeep category.
Bob Southard has spent the majority of his life entrenched in the automotive industry, working primarily as a distributor. A self-professed “Jeep guy” and lover of just about anything with a seven-slot grille, Southard was determined to open a shop capable of providing Arizona customers with excellent service, whether their vehicles were Jeeps or otherwise. Southard specializes in marketing and online work, and he eventually found the missing puzzle pieces he needed to open his business: a master tuner and an installer, both crucial pieces to the shop he always envisioned.
In 2014, Southard and three others took on a Jeep build together. It ended up as a feature vehicle at the SEMA Show and was ultimately the catalyst to open the shop of their own. With the team in place, Envy Motorsports opened its doors for the first time shortly thereafter. We spoke with Southard to find out how he managed to launch a performance shop in the Amazon era.
SEMA News: With the shop now up and running for a few years, what does Envy Motorsports look like today?
Bob Southard: From the beginning, our intention was to be a full-service shop. We often say that anyone can just bolt parts onto a vehicle, but rarely does a shop enhance a vehicle’s performance with professional, expert tuning. Evan, our dyno/tuning specialist and co-owner of Envy, can work on just about anything, so installing tunes and upgrading performance is a large majority of what we do. However, we are still equipped to install cosmetic upgrades to a vehicle as well as work on custom graphics.
When we initially opened in early 2015, our dyno was off-site. Now it has made sense to bring everything in-house and make a few other improvements in the process. Our new shop is about 2,500 sq. ft. and includes three installation bays, one mobile dyno—a piece of technology we are currently developing and are very excited about—and an office space.
The shop has three installation bays along with an in-house dyno.
SN: How did the SEMA Show play a role in Envy’s founding?
BS: Myself and the other few who founded Envy all have long histories with the SEMA Show. In 2014, we joined forces on a Jeep build that made it to the Show floor that year. One year later, we opened Envy, noting the camaraderie and unique abilities of our work as a team.
Later that year, Envy built an Edelbrock-supercharged Wrangler for the Show. Most recently, in 2017, we had the honor of building a TJ Jeep that was selected as a feature vehicle by the Light Truck Accessory Alliance, so there is a history with SEMA builds and this shop that goes back several years. It is one that we hope continues well into the future.
SN: What products does Envy sell, and how does it go about selling them?
BS: A significant portion of our business is installation and performance tuning, because our shop caters to that so well. In addition to our service capabilities, we run and maintain a parts catalog online. Our roots run deep with the Jeep brand, so you will find many parts and accessories for Jeep, though the parts we sell really do run the gamut from truck and SUV to sport compact.
The products we sell are cultivated through long-term relationships, including a few that actually feature Envy Motorsports branding, because we played an active role in their development and manufacturing. Such is the case with our new tuning solution for the TJ Jeep that we developed in conjunction with Haltech.
Our other Envy-branded products are a line of air intakes and fan shrouds for Magnum Power superchargers—again something we played a role in developing. The other featured products are those from manufacturers that we have long-standing relationships with and whose work we trust immensely. S-Tech and Team Tech Off-Road are great examples of that.
We are not a brick-and-mortar shop, but it is worth noting that this is by design. In past market research, we noted that customers have fast, free shipping at the very top of their priority list when it comes to buying parts. And that is accomplished with the online channels we use to sell, including Amazon, eBay and Walmart. Keeping overhead low and selling solely through online channels has been a great complement to the work we do in the shop.
Pictured (from left) are Bob Southard, owner and marketing head, Evan Smith,
co-owner/tuning specialist, and Carlos Campas, shop installation head.
SN: Describe your sales breakdown and what markets are the most prominent.
BS: As an Arizona native with an Arizona-based business, we do see a big share of business from local customers, many of whom end up requesting that we install their products after their purchase. That said, because we sell many off-road products, the Mexican market has become something major for Envy. I encourage other retailers to look into Mexico as a viable market to sell products. Mexico is big with Jeeps and is looking to buy quality parts to fit that niche. Such is the case with S-Tech switches, which sell very well for us.
SN: Can you name a few best practices that come to mind with Envy?
BS: If I had to describe our entire philosophy when it comes to existing as a business, it always comes back to communication with our customers. Go to the SEMA Show and network with customers, both old and new. I cannot express just how valuable that resource is to a retailer/shop. Beyond that, we keep communication lines open with customers past the typical shop hours. If I have to answer a text from a customer in the evening to address something in a moment of concern, I will. Keeping communication open and available at all times with customers is paramount. Have phone numbers, both shop and mobile, and be as accessible as possible.
1545 S. Craycroft, Unit 2
SN: What does the future look like for Envy Motorsports?
BS: Envy Motorsports is looking forward to building on what we have created. One of the major areas we focus on as a shop is embracing technology in as many ways as possible. We have an in-house 3-D printer, which is used for product fitment and development. In addition to keeping up with this very useful technology, we will continue to build a portfolio of technology that will allow us to best serve our customers.
We feel strongly about staying relevant with shop technology. The moment you fall behind with keeping the shop tech-savvy is the moment that you preclude potential business and efficiency.
Apart from our efforts in keeping the shop technologically advanced, our major shop goal is to start taking on more ground-up bespoke builds. We work frequently with product installations and have a detailed history with SEMA builds. It only seems fitting to start building custom cars from scratch.