As you may have noticed, Secret Entourage is building one very unique Aston Martin Vantage. Without the help from our sponsors we could have never done it. From England to Miami, RSC Tuning is a name that is well known in the exotic car market and is continuing to grow despite the economic downturn that just ended. So how do they do it? What do they do, that makes them so efficient? We reached out to RSC Tuning to help us build our Project “Heaven” Aston Martin, which is coming along nicely, but while doing so we realized that their business model, passion for cars and drive to succeed made them a perfect example for other tuners to learn from.
So we asked Stuart Dickinson and Hershel Zelcer to share with us RSC Tuning’s Secret to Success…
First off, a BIG thank you to RSC Tuning for sponsoring the Secret Entourage Aston Martin Vantage. It really is a pleasure to work with you guys and every time we install one more part you send us, we wonder why we didn’t reach out to you guys earlier. It is incredible how much bang for the buck you get with your parts despite the fact that the marquees you make parts for are nothing usually associated with the word cheap. Lets get this started…
What is RSC Tuning?
RSC is dedicated to delivering high performance tuning and styling products to exotic owners at a reasonable price point. Our mantra at RSC is ‘For Enthusiasts by Enthusiasts.’ All of the clients are, at their core, people like us who love cars and love modifying them. This is how we approach our projects, from an owner’s point of view first and a business point of view second, and then determine if we can make the economics work for both the customers and RSC.
Tell us about your team and their role? How did you find each other?
The original partners, Hershel Zelcer and Brent Martini met when Brent was looking to start a retail tuning business in Southern California, believing that the market where he lived, was not being properly served. His interest in starting a new business was driven by how he had a hard time finding tuning parts for his personal high end European cars. Hershel’s success in building the Cargraphic brand in the US was evident both from Brent’s awareness as a Porsche owner, but also as he conducted the due diligence around suppliers needed in the market place to succeed in the tuning world. Coincidentally, Brent and Hershel met socially in Miami and that casual discussion turned into a serious business discussion over the next week. Brent abandoned his retail orientation and agreed to launch a new manufacturing/distribution company, which became RSC Tuning.
Ben Kaighin and Stuart Dickinson met working in the aftermarket exhaust industry and founded their own company in 2007, going on to become RSC’s sole exhaust and ECU tuning supplier around 6 months later. In late 2008, the two companies joined forces and brought both companies under one umbrella and the RSC Tuning brand.
RSC runs with a pretty flat corporate structure, and we all tend to collaborate on projects and decision making without always having clearly defined roles. We all have areas in which we are particularly strong and knowledgeable, and these strengths inter mesh and complement each others very well. Who does what comes pretty organically to us – we just play to our individual strengths and help each other out without worrying about “who’s job” it is.
What makes RSC Tuning a superior company in terms of tuning?
Our ability to approach things from the owner’s perspective, and to stand behind our products 100% has been invaluable to us. We all have lots of experience being customers in this industry and we know how frustrating it is to be disappointed with a product or to receive poor customer service. This always leads us down the road of developing great products, instead of those which are simply ‘good enough.’ We don’t look for the simplest, easiest or cheapest way to produce something, but aim to design something the way it ought to be made, and the way we’d want it made if we were buying it ourselves. This approach doesn’t always give us the greatest profits in the short term, but exceeding your customers expectations and showing real and genuine interest in their satisfaction always pays off in the long term.
Your site says you work on a lot of major brands, can you tell us which one holds closest to your heart and why?
Well since I’m writing this I’m going to say Aston, but I think Hershel would probably say Lamborghini, Ben would say Audi, and Brent’s closet is full of red socks with little prancing horses on them (former Ferrari GT pilot and 2003 Grand Am GT Driver Champion.) Although, Brent is now a Lamborghini enthusiast currently tooling around in an LP560. It’s actually a healthy “difference” if you will, as we come from different places and can debate things together to orchestrate the best product development, manufacturing, distribution and marketing plans. While the marques and owners are very different, their personal goals and ours are very similar across lines. High quality, differentiated but tasteful product at reasonable prices.
We work with an awful lot of Lambo owners, and certainly love them and their cars for being uncompromising, unabashed and head-on approach to life. Driving a Lambo is always an event.
For me personally (Stuart) the current crop of Astons are very special cars. Cool and classy, but incredibly visceral and engaging to drive. I was lucky enough to take our Vantage on a 3500 mile journey from San Diego to Vancouver and demonstrate RSC products to hundreds of enthusiasts. I spoke to so many owners who had fallen in love with Astons, not because they were the fastest or for the numbers on the spec sheet… it was the heart and soul of the car, the driving experience and the looks that drew them in. A little throwback to the old days when cars had strong personalities and individual characteristics.
Tell us about your Vantage and Gallardo?
Our ‘07 Vantage features the full exterior RSC Vantage C carbon fiber styling package – front splitter, rear diffuser, mirror covers and side trims. The interior is pretty original but has a couple of nice touches like the Alcantara steering wheel. It rides on 20” COR wheels and our custom-spec RSC lowering springs which drop the ride height by 1.25”. Performance is substantially improved with the RSC Livetune ECU upgrade, 200-cell catalysts, Sports Exhaust and RSC Performance Filters, giving us over 50 extra horses to play with. Our car is a manual so the transmission is unchanged but we also do a lot of gearbox remaps for faster shifting.
The Gallardo Spyder is a real head-turner. Nero Perseus with grey and orange interior. Suspension is unaltered, but rides on our 20” RSC Taglio wheel, inspired by the Callisto OEM wheel. Our full CS600 carbon fiber kit – side skirts, mirrors, rear diffuser and washer covers, plus the infamous RSC LP560 front bumper. The power output is up by 54BHP with the combination of the RSC Livetune ECU upgrade and the addition of our 13lb titanium exhaust system, dropping 60lbs from the rear of the car.
Where does the road lead in the next 5 years?
Well, it is always a challenge to continue what you do well, while expanding from that experience and focus to broaden your base. No doubt top priority is to continue to develop offerings for the Lambo and Aston martin segment, while moving into targeted other marques we believe we can differentiate and succeed like we have in these two marques. Same philosophy of course.
In addition, we will continue to offer a vast selection of exhausts which quite frankly are not yet as well known they should be. It is a very crowded marquee, and we haven’t accomplished enough visibility in this space, but we offer a number of different exhausts like our F430 with Black Chrome Tips, or ceramic coated LP670SV that we think if owners see, touch and feel, will consider the RSC Tuning exhaust line. In addition to specialty items like mentioned above, we have other noteworthy systems for brands we don’t have deep offerings for but should be considered seriously like the M3 and R8.
Daaaammmnnnn SE. Back at it again with the white Lambo. pic.twitter.com/T2RPp9gv3T
— Secret Entourage (@SecretEntourage) February 24, 2016
What motivates you guys?
Staying out of trouble with our wives/girlfriends….
Seriously? I think it is that Monday morning email from a customer who’s been out all weekend driving their car with its new RSC parts and can’t wait to tell us how happy they are. That makes us happy. We’re in the car game because we love it, and despite the fact that we’re a business and we want to make dollars and sense, the smile on a customer’s face when they are enjoying their car is so much sweeter than making money in a business you hate.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Yes and no. Depends on how you define it! Hey, we launched our company in 2007 as the world began to fall apart and we are still in business unlike many, so in those terms, yes, we are glad to be weathering the storm!
Most importantly in answering that question is that we are now a known brand name after less than 3 years, and according to many, the “go to” company for Lambo and Aston Martin tuning. This is our greatest accomplishment and what encourages us to go forward with momentum to deliver our business plans we have laid out.
Lastly, I think the best way to define our success is through our customers eyes, and if they are saying good things about us on the forums, asking us to bring more products to market and buying our products at a time when discretionary income and purchases are way down across the world, then we must be doing something right.
So we need to keep doing what’s working, get better at what isn’t and look to expand our footprint and market share, and then maybe we will consider ourselves more successful. In other words, I don’t want to speak too soon and celebrate when we have much work ahead of ourselves.
What advice do you have for a young entrepreneur that wants to make their car tuning hobby a business? Any hard lessons learned?
Hard work and honesty. Be prepared to make personal sacrifices in the short term to achieve your goals down the road. Be honest with your customers, but be honest with yourself about your abilities and your business’s strengths and weaknesses and have an open mind. You don’t need to have all the answers when you start off but learn as much as you can from the people you come into contact with. Every experience can be a positive one if you learn from it – you might fail to sell your product to another business, but that experience might show you what improvements you need to make to be competitive. Take that feedback without ego and incorporate it if it can help you, and be flexible enough to adapt to a changing business environment.
Going back to when you opened, did you ever think your growth would be so significant?
Not to sound arrogant, but if we didn’t believe in it we wouldn’t have gotten in the business. But honestly, we are nowhere compared to where we want and intend to be in 3 years. Believing in yourself is key.
Finally, a little birdie told me you are working on a Secret Car? What can you tell us about what our viewers can expect to see/hear on that Secret car?
Well, if the little birdie didn’t lie, I would expect to see a lighter, more powerful car with a Le Mans-inspired V8 soundtrack…. probably a smiling driver behind the wheel! (BIG SMILE it is indeed)
A big thank you to Stuart and his team for sharing their story with us and also working with us to build one amazing Aston Martin. We recommend that everyone visits RSC tuning and see what they have to offer your Aston, Lambo, Porsche and other exotic.