As car enthusiasts, we are modern day artists, artists that use our cars as the blank canvas where we are able to express our artwork. With most cars coming out of the factory tame and underwhelming, this allows us to freely express our style through our cars by customizing it to our liking, enhancing different elements that escalate the performance and style. When Lexus, Honda, Nissan, Ford and other manufacturers need a car to be modified, they turn to Brian Fox of Fox Marketing for his two decades of experience and knowledge of industry trends. Best of all, he gets paid to do it!
What makes you interested in entrepreneurship?
I took classes to learn about business in college. Pretty much all I learned was actually working in the field from selling cars, to Kirby Vaccums door-to-door. School is important but they can’t teach you common sense there. Either you got it or you don’t.
My grandfather had his own business and my Father was an Engineering Consultant so I guess wanting to be my own boss was in my own blood. Also, after doctors check out my case of ADD, they said I was the worst case they ever tested and won’t amount to anything in life. This drove me to prove the haters wrong and to be my own boss. Pretty much every job I had I got fired from because I saw idiots doing the job wrong in my eyes. They have different motives than I did I guess and wasn’t scared to speak up. I have always told people “how it is.” Sorry, but I’m honest and tell it how I see it. Some people can handle that, most can’t.
From doing sales, what important lessons were you able to take away?
I think the lessons I learned really didn’t come from selling cars. It came from what I wanted to learn, and taking that from my environment. What you learn is about constantly failing and not to take it to heart. Door-to-door sales is the hardest there is in my book because they are not looking for your product, you have to push that on others. It really comes down to presentation and establishing trust with an individual in 3 seconds. You only have one chance to make a first impression. People are big on looks so if you look the part it makes it easy for someone to open that door for you. That was all relative things I picked up along the way and had to figure out on my own. Then, when I got into selling cars, phones, whatever it was it was really a piece of cake. At least someone was coming in your door looking for something, not the other way around.
What triggered so much interest in cars?
Probably from playing with my Matchbox’s when I was super young at my parent’s house. Just always liked them, and then got a serious passion for them when I turned 22. During elementary school and on to college my passion was baseball and learning and playing that game. It was a strong drive to say the least.
So how did you get started in the car modifying business?
Back in 1997 I think I was the first car with a URL address on a car. I was the first person in the tuner scene with a TV show on Speed. It wasn’t about me or glory, it was just about exposing the scene to the masses and trying to inspire others to hook up theirs too. I think I achieved that goal and continue to focus on that. This auto industry is awesome and there are so many good people who just love cars and share the same passion. I just love to meet others who share my passion too. We just always have something in common and that is the love for cars.
How did you get contracts with large companies early on? Did you have a ‘big break’?
Pick up the phone and called them pretty much. Now it is the other way around, folks just call me when they want the vision.
I don’t think a big break was what you want to call it. I became successful because I had the vision to see where the market was heading and got in on the ground floor. My friends on the West Coast wanted to connect with the buyers on the East Coast. I developed a business model that helped them on this side and that is why they used me. I had the experience and work harder than anyone I know. Without hard work and dedication you can’t make it period. Things in life are not easy and some people think things are just handed too you. I wish. I started my business out of the basement of my Mom’s house. I didn’t get any money from anyone, and now I have 4 brand new Lexus’s sitting in my driveway, a nice house, 3,500 sq. ft facility, life is good! And you know what? I’m self made and proud of it!!! I busted my ass to get here but I got here by helping others. Also, many people helped me too and grateful to each one for their help too. I just share my success with them because they helped get me here. In life it is about teamwork, and that is what I’m all about. The TEAM concept.
Who are some of these people that have helped you along the way?
A couple people come to mind actually. My buddy Brent from BASF who believed in my vision, and let me create a job for myself and turn a passion into a career for me. I went to the brand many years back and didn’t see the vision, he did. I’m grateful for him to give me a chance and prove my abilities. Also, the whole tuner industry and the over 400 aftermarket manufactures I have had the honor of partnering with on projects over the years. They believed in me and I busted my butt to keep their trust over the years. It wasn’t about a free hand out to me, it was about helping someone. Of course my mother and father for the strong positive foundation they provided for me. They also made me go to Military High School because I got kicked out of public school for being a class clown. That straightened me up and gave me a true understanding of teamwork and trusting in others.
CJ Evers from Denko Performance for giving my first job in the tuner industry. It taught me about custom fabrication, engineering parts, quality, all kinds of things. He was ahead of his time and had a passion for cars like I did. Without his knowledge I wouldn’t be where I am at today. Also, thanks for firing me too, which was the best thing that ever happened to me!
Being a nobody early in the game, you must of faced lots of rejections. How did you get these companies to give you a chance?
You are always going to get rejected, it is life in general. You just need to stay positive and keep your head up. It is easy in life to keep your head down but you must remember you control that aspect. Look in the mirror and love what you look at each day – keep your head up kid! If someone tells you NO, then call someone else who might see your value. There are millions of doors to open and those doors never close unless you set limits on your abilities. Only you know what your true gifts are and you have to believe in yourself. Once you truly believe in yourself, others will too.
Tell us a little bit about Fox Marketing and what you guys do.
We consult for major brands inside and outside the Automotive market place. We are brand builders and that all starts with design/image. Then we figure out who the customer is and how to tailor a program to go after them. The companies I consult/consulted for are chosen by me. I saw a missing piece of their puzzle, and they hired me to bring them that piece. We started the following by designing 69 cars for OEM and Aftermarket Manufactures to market their products for the past 11 years. This exploded our name in the industry, and fellow enthusiasts started paying attention quick to the brand. The cars are the foundation, and what people look for from our camp. We connect well with others because we have built a ton of Import, Euro, and Domestic cars over the years. We can take any car and make it look good, and we welcome that challenge. No trailer queens here, just pure, real street cars you can hop behind the wheel and drive reliable. We do not cut corners nor will stand for that. If our name is on the front bumper, then it is built right.
How has Fox Marketing evolved over the years?
Fox Marketing was created to connect the West coast aftermarket manufactures to the East coast market place. I set up booths for them, built their cars to market the products, supplied the models, help find them distributors, marketed them online; all kinds of things. I created this because no one had anything like this business model at the time anywhere East or West. I started selling high performance parts and showing cars back in 1997. I saw this part of the industry exploding but needed the true experience and learning before I went out on my own. I made $250 a week working for a high performance shop and lived at home with my Mom for two years educating myself. My friends in the industry told me to get out and start my own business. They wanted to be my customers so I listened and did it. I was young and had nothing to lose, I always could start working for someone else again I thought.
I sold parts for years and was sick of the stupid people I had to deal with on a daily basis. There was just so much drama doing it. I wanted to be the middle man between the manufacture and the end user. I was great at setting trends that people copied so manufactures used me to start these trends. I can’t go into every detail here but many things you see even today I was behind the scenes beating on their doors for them to create. Fox Marketing has evolved from the basement of my Mom’s house to have a fleet of Lexus’s and a nice building to call home. I would have imagined but I never stopped dreaming. I am so blessed to have turned a dream into a job I absolutely LOVE!
What was your first car build?
The car that got me into the scene was my 1996 Dodge Stratus. I moved back to the East coast from College in 1997, and met up with a crew of car enthusiasts in town. Another guy Glenn had the same car but had all these performance parts for it. The competition started for me to get into the scene and I set my goals. I went to around 15 shows and even NOPI Nationals in 1997 in Atlanta. I got my butt kicked pretty much but I learned a lot. But, in early 1998 I called Wings West and they made me the front spoiler and touring wing. I started calling up some manufacture to make me parts and they helped me out. Then sponsors started coming and we were the first Domestic car ever shot for Super Street Magazine (the bible at the time). My goal was achieved and couldn’t count how many best in shows I got. But, that is how I got my start.
Any other cars of yours that we might have seen before? Which one is your most memorable?
People still talk about my Orange turbo Saturn SC2 Turbo Concept that was at SEMA 2011. The other SEMA cars where the Saturn Ion with custom SEA DOO with full paint, nitrous, and Stereo. Did a the silver Altima Coupe, Focus Coupe, and the fleet of Lexus’s I have now. A couple other car I did in between.
I think the Orange Widebody Twin Turbo IS F is the most memorable. It is just one bad ass car to drive. Love that damn thing.
Whats the philosophy behind your builds and what challenges do you encounter?
I decide on what car is most marketable in the aftermarket then approach them. It’s about a fit. There isn’t really a process other than doing the body, paint, wheels, tires, engine, interior, (stereo if you want that weight). Every car has a purpose so it changes every time. No two cars are the same and will never be.
Nothing unique, just problem solving on the fly is pretty much how it is. No matter how much you plan, someone throws a stick in your wheel always. I have never had one build “just as planned.” But, they all met the deadline and what I start gets finished. That is the key, completion no matter what the time line. I remember, Nissan has me do a Versa for the brand. I only had two weeks, and no one made one part for it. Showed up at SEMA and did more than other builders did from California with a month. It’s about drive to me to be the best at what I do no matter how the odds are stacked!
Fox Marketing on PBS’s MotorWeek
Any sneak peeks for upcoming builds you can share with us?
I’m taking a quick assignment with Honda to do the new 2012 Civic Si for SEMA. They are really good people, and it has been awesome working with them so far. They need my help, insight, and they welcome it. But, what comes in 2012 is the NEW Lexus GS. I have a vision for this car that will blow your mind. I have a SERIOUS passion for these cars, and people that are with the brand. Should be fun.
We want to thank Brian for sharing his secret to success. 2012 looks to be another exciting year for Brian and we will follow his builds to see what he has planned next.
You too can stay connected with Brian at the following places: