We here at Ridelust.com get hit up all the time to endorse products and companies, but without ever having tried the majority of the products we generally just ignore them. There are times however when a company does come through with flying colors. As most of you have figured out by now I am a complete nut about my cars. I pride myself in keeping my rides in top condition both mechanically and visually so when I need work done to them I research the crap out of the company that is doing the work. I’ll check the blogs, the forums, the Better Business Bureau and any other industry publications that I can get my hands on so as to help me determine whether or I not I want to do business with them. Here in the New York metropolitan area we have loads of custom shops, installers and wannabe fabricators. The problem with most shops however is that their work is sub-par.
Here is a quick visual checklist of what to look for in a shop, be it a standard mechanics shop or a full on customizing facility.
1. Is it clean: For instance when entering the shop take a look around and make sure everything is in its place. Are the floors clean, are the tools, welders, parts, tires and equipment all in a place that make you, the customer feel comfortable about leaving your car there.
2. Employee’s: Do they look professional and treat customers with courtesy and respect, do they pick up the phone when you call and more importantly do they return calls if a message is left. This is a tell tale sign of how they are going to treat your ride. If you walk in and find yourself waiting 15 minutes before you are greeted then this is a problem. Customer service is HUGE in this industry and if they fumble this step in your initial meeting then a red flag should go up.
3. Services: What types of services do these shops offer. For example – can they weld, paint, fabricate, do bodywork, interior and fabric repair and more importantly, do they do EVERYTHING in-house. This is a very important thing because as soon as something leaves the initial shop for which you entered, the chances of things going downhill go up exponentially. Make sure to take a look around the shop, ask for a tour and inquire about past projects and work that they have done.
4. Ask for owner: Ladies and gentleman, this is huge. We all know that customization work is not cheap and at times it shouldn’t be. If you are fortunate enough to find a shop that does high quality work then guess what, they deserved to be compensated for it. A shop owner should be many things. They should be part businessman, part craftsmen and part psychic. A good owner will sit down with a customer and not only go through options, but make knowledgeable suggestions based on their experience in the industry. They’ll also be able to give you a pretty accurate estimate of cost, time frame and expected outcome. I’ll tell you right now that if I don’t like the owner or I get any type of non-cozy feeling in my stomach, I’ll walk out immediately.
I was recently at Proformance Industries in New Rochelle, NY. Their facility is located about 30 minutes outside of Manhattan and I must say that they have an impressive operation. Owner George Gjokaj has managed to create in his facility an operation that encompasses everything I spoke about. First off the shop is clean… like REALLY clean with nothing out place or laid about haphazardly. George is very candid about his shop and was more than happy to give us the grand tour. Keep in mind that this is something that most shop owners are reluctant to do as they don’t want you to see their inner workings.
As we walked around George pointed out some of their services then showed us where each service was performed. For instance Proformance Industries has a beautiful C & C machine that is used for creating one-off custom wheels for any car in any bolt pattern or back-spacing. George then when through the entire design process from start to finish, while all the while answering any and all questions that we threw at him. We then began to notice different things in the shop. An older 1970’s Corvette that had looked to have just been recently sanded down and was awaiting paint. The chassis was perfect and as George explained the car was on its way to becoming a full on pro-touring car for one of their customers. I then began to notice some of the pictures on the walls as well. Mariano Rivera from the New York Yankees, TV’s hod rod hottie Courtney Hansen from Overhaulin’ and NY Ranger Henrik Lundqvist. When I inquired about the photo’s George simply said that they were some of Proformance’s clients. What I really liked though was that he never once mentioned it as part of a sales pitch. When shops have celebrity clients it’s generally the first thing they talk about, George however was more interested in showing examples of his work.
I was at the Proformance Industries facility for the better part of an hour chatting with the guys, looking over their services and viewing examples of their work and to be honest I can’t say enough good things about them. What I came away with was a sense of professionalism that is seldom seen anymore in this industry. The quality of the work and the customer service that comes out of Proformance Industries speaks for itself. They have a great facility, a great attitude and more importantly a great business mindset that is wholeheartedly dedicated to the customer. The best part is that now the east coast finally has a top notch, full service customization facility that can take care of its countless car fanatics.
Make sure to check them out on Facebook as well.