Restyling & Truck Accessories - April '15

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Page 60 of 63 April 2015 | Restyling & tRuck AccessoRies 59 line and you have to have new products every year," Hooks says. "Accessories are functional, but consumers are more inter- ested in aesthetics. We're going to have to continue innovating the look of products and pay attention to what's going on in the OE world." Why Truck Accessories? CURT, which is backed by Audax Group's private equity firm, has been manufac- turing towing products since 1993. The company has 550 employees and is focused on keeping its manufacturing operations in the U.S. Since CURT Manufacturing has experi- ence supplying hitches to truck accessory distributors and dealers, the manufacturer already possessed strong relationships with those businesses when it acquired Aries. "They know us and how we can perform, so it's really just a natural fit for us to add truck accessories to our product line," "Hooks says. Not only was the addition natural, it is also a large market, according to CURT. Sales of light-truck accessories reached nearly $6 billion last year, according SEMA Market Research and the number is expected to grow. After the acquisition, sales of Aries Auto- m o t i v e p r o d u c t s in 2014 remained consistent in with numbers from 2013, but the company has plans for a sizable increase this year, according to Hooks. Web Development CURT also recently launched a new web- site for Aries to deliver additional support to customers online, according to Lee Adelman, CURT's vice president of ecom- merce and marketing. In addition to housing installation videos, the website helps dealers stay up to date on the newest applications and the user- friendly design makes ordering products simpler, according to the company. Other additions to the enhanced web campaign include eBlasts and posts to social media platforms to inform customers about new applications and other company news. CURT Manufacturing has a dedicated ecommerce team that serves retailers both online and offline. The team produces print and digita assets such as installation videos, graphics and photos. "Everything we're doing electronically right now is to make doing business easier for the customer," Adelman says. "We have a dedicated e-commerce depart- ment that we are transferring to the Aries brand." Hooks' biggest advice for auto accessory retailers is to get involved in ecommerce. "We always support our dealers, even to the point of making a website for them if they need one," Hooks says. "If they don't try to get into ecommerce, they're missing out. It may only be 10 to 15 per- cent of the purchases out there, but 70 per- cent of people do their research on the Web before making a purchase. You need to be out there, so they can find you." 'Add Us to Your List' Hooks encourages dealers who want assis- tance getting their business on the web to communicate with either CURT Manufac- turing or Aries Automotive. "We're very advanced ecommerce wise, and we have a lot of assets that our cus- tomers can use," Hooks says. "When they come see us at the show, they'll see all we have to offer." Team members from both companies also will be available to walk customers through products and processes at 2015 trade shows. "Customers are going to be shocked at how far Aries has come in this short amount of time," Adelman says. "So be sure to put us on your list." Aries Automotive produces vehicle protection products like grille overlays and bullbars

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