November '18

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40 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2018 According to an article in the New York Times, for the last few years the auto industry has been roiled by a significant shift in consumer tastes. In droves, Amer- icans are turning their backs on family sedans and small cars and flocking to bigger, roomier models like sport utility vehicles and trucks. We're seeing more pickups than ever before come through our shop, not only for leather upgrades, but pricey, custom builds as well. The Times article went on to say that there's a new dimension to this trend— upscale buyers who long favored Lexus, Cadillac, Jaguar and the German luxury brands are gravitating to trucks and SUVs as well. They are often buying special-edition, fully loaded models, like a Ford Raptor that sells for as much as or more than BMW's flagship 7 Series sedan. We are noticing this trend evolving into buying the truck at the lower trim level and using the money that would've been spent on the loaded or limited-edition F-150 or Ram to design a custom limited edition package with a lift kit, wheels, appearance add-ons and custom leather interior. As this trend evolves, shops across the country will have the opportunity to grow in areas with bulk packaging along with custom leather interiors. WORTH WATCHING I was curious to see if other shops around the country were experiencing the same phenomenon as we are, so I brought it up to members of our Restyler's United group at our meeting last month in San Diego. The reports from other shops around the country seem to indicate that this leather trend will continue to grow. A part of the meeting was a visit to the Katzkin leather interior plant. During the tour, I noticed employees assembling a sub- stantial amount of red leather interiors. Next to the various shades of red were blues, along with leather interiors varying in bold contrast stitching. It appeared the plant was experiencing the same demand for bright colors that we've noticed in Illinois. One thing that caught my attention was how serious the staff was regarding issues related to quality control. Naturally, as demand for custom leather designs around the country increases, so does the potential for flaws. We see a lot of base-model vehicles come through the shop for leather kits similar to those found in higher trim levels. Bold Choice A

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