Ingenuity Fab & Speed

SEMA News—March 2019

RETAIL SPOTLIGHT

By Grant Walter

Ingenuity Fab & Speed

How a Social-Media Post Altered the Course of One Hot-Rod Shop in Texas

  Retail Spotlight
The brick-and-mortar retail space serves as a lobby, but sales there are far outpaced by online retail via Amazon Prime, Etsy and the company’s website.
   

When the story of Ingenuity Fab & Speed (IFS) began five years ago, Joshua Boucher was building chassis for a local shop. Like many, he was creating custom designs and fabricating parts for each job, pouring his creativity into them. His parents, aftermarket veterans, convinced him that he was giving his genius away. He realized that he had everything he needed to take ownership of his abilities and work for himself, so he incorporated IFS as an LLC in Montgomery, Texas, and hired his parents soon thereafter.

With his coachbuilding expertise and their business experience, the company has grown considerably from its 1,300-sq.-ft. beginnings. It is still in the midst of rapid evolution, having grown from a hot-rod shop into a retail manufacturer, parts dealer and more. Only weeks before the writing of this article, IFS moved into its new 9,000-sq.-ft. space. SEMA News caught up with Boucher just as the dust was settling.

SEMA News: How has IFS evolved since the beginning, when you were building cars by yourself? How did it grow into the business it is today?

Joshua Boucher: Well, it’s a funny story. We made a custom crossmember for a customer’s ’80 Chevy truck, because you could never really get a dual exhaust on those with the stock crossmember. He took it home on a Friday night, posted the mod on C10 Nation or one of his buddy’s websites, and we had more than 10,000 hits by Monday morning. People were calling and wanting to know, “Where do I get this crossmember?” That really jumpstarted us into manufacturing. Prior to that event, everything we built was a one-off custom part.

I’m also a coachbuilder. We do a lot of pre-war cars. We have several wealthy people here in the area, and I work on their Stutzes, their Deusenbergs, Rolls Royces. I’ve built nine cars for one guy in the last four years.

We are dealers for Flowmaster, and I actually got an email two days ago that we now have full access to the Holley family—MSD, Mallory. We’re Vintage Air and QA1 dealers. We’re also one of the few Öhlins automotive shock dealers in
the country.

  Retail Spotlight
Scrap metal from the shop is converted into functional and sculptural pieces ranging from coat hangars to etched impressions of customer cars.
   

SN: So you are a custom/fabrication shop that has become a retailer. How do you handle the trend toward online shopping via Amazon, eBay, etc.?

JB: We actually sell on Amazon and have a full store there. We sell on eBay, Etsy and our website. We are Prime sellers with Amazon, which means everything has to be shipped within two days. We haven’t failed that commitment once yet. In fact, we usually ship things on the same day. So far, we’ve been able to keep up.

I would love the day to come where I have to hire three new welder/fabricators. I have the room, and I already have the welding machines.

We also have a sub business called IFS Metalcraft. We make all the leftover ends of the metal that come off the tables into automotive art pieces. We make coat hangars, hose hangars for the shop, automotive art, all kinds of stuff. So the scrapper’s getting less metal from us. When we build a car for somebody, a lot of times we actually make a custom piece of automotive art to go with the car as a thank-you gift.

SN: You do business on at least four fronts: fabbing/building, retail manufacturing, parts dealing and sculpture art. What is your biggest earner?

JB: Manufacturing is holding its own and showing a lot of potential. In fact, we’re currently developing four or five new products that we’ll be debuting over the summer.

If you spent a day here, you would probably assume that manufacturing and online sales were our main business, because that’s what’s headed out the door. But if you open our books at the end of the year, our custom builds are by far the biggest earner.

We aren’t building $20,000 cars. We’re building $200,000–$300,000 cars. Those people want Wilwood brakes, front runner connecting kits that cost $20,000 by themselves, etc. So because of the quality of our builds, the hot-rod shop is still outperforming manufacturing. Many times, someone will buy one of our crossmembers and then that will turn into wanting trailing arms, LS swap mounts, etc.

SN: What is your biggest market sector then? Who are your typical customers?

JB: In the last year and a half, it has definitely been trucks—specifically, ’50–’87 Chevy trucks. Most of them are Pro-Touring trucks. Very few are ’bagged. I don’t know if it goes against the national average, but we don’t actually do that many ’bagged trucks. Most of our customers want a static drop—low all the time. That’s the trend for our customers.

As far as who they are, there are two separate groups. Right now, we have the 30- to 40-year-old group that is building kickass, badass trucks. A lot of them have just come into their own. A lot of them are business owners who have gotten to the point in their lives where they have some disposable cash, and they want that pickup or car they had in high school. It’s the same story as the old guys, just different vehicles.

That’s our other group: the 60-and-over group who want the street rods and hot rods. We work on a lot of ’40s Fords and Chevys.

We used to do sub work for other shops because of our coachbuilding abilities. They would quietly send us a vehicle when they really needed fine, quality work done on that front. We don’t do that much anymore.

SN: What’s on the horizon for IFS right now?

JB: As I said before, we are developing several new products. If you wanted to compare us, I guess we’re a very, very small version of the Roadster Shop or Art Morrison, because we build our own chassis, A-arms, bracketry, four-link kits. We are currently working on a full front K-member. It’s going to change things a little bit for the industry, and we’re very excited about it.

  Executive Summary
 
Fab & Speed
10338 Commerce Row
Montgomery, TX 77356
  • Owner/President: Joshua Boucher
  • Established in 2013.
  • Just moved into in a 9,000-sq.-ft. space.
  • Began as a fabrication and coachbuilding shop; now does upholstery, paint, art/sculpture, manufacturing and retail sales.
  • Customers are mainly looking for high-end vintage truck and hot-rod work; many are entrepreneurs, both young and old. Currently no commercial business.

We’ve usually been capping things off around ’80, but the next big wave is really the ’88–’98 trucks. We haven’t been sitting on our hands. We are taking the “ingenuity” in our name seriously.

SN: What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs who are out there trying to forge their own paths?

JB: I would definitely say watch your overhead. Overhead is huge. And baby steps. Grow slowly. Pay attention to your market. Pay attention to your customers. Listen to what they’re saying, because they’re the ones who are paying your bills.

Sometimes you might have to move in a direction that may not be as comfortable as you’d like it to be. That is because, by doing those things, you might be given the opportunity and freedom to explore and do things that you want to do.

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