About 2 years ago, a wheel phenomenon started by the name of 360 Forged. Classic designs that were fresh, elegant and truly engaged the driver with luxury lifestyles. The wheels were designed to perfection and the phenomenon started taking over all the internet. Amazing pictures of exotic cars spotted wearing some of the industry’s finest shoes could be found just about everywhere and so we had the chance to meet the founder/owner of 360 Forged wheels at the time, Jordan Swerdloff, who was kind enough to give us an exclusive insight into his great success. Years have past since 360 Forged launched and unfortunately as many may already be aware, Jordan had to sell 360 Forged as business went sour as he no longer was able to manage the business. Stories spread all over the net and gave Jordan Swerloff a reputation that didn’t fit him very well…
Jordan has since laid low, and many believed that he simply was hiding from his failure, but as we all know failure is the secret to success and therefore Jordan wasn’t about to quit his passion for success nor becoming a wheel god. Secret Entourage is bringing you this exclusive 1 on 1 with Jordan where we get a chance to set the record straight once and for all on what went wrong with 360 Forged and how he plans to take over the wheel world with his new company: ADV1 Wheels.
Before we start with the interview, we wanted to take a moment and thank Jordan for taking the time to sit down with us and be so candid and willing to discuss some of the events that unfolded in the downfall of the original 360 Forged company. Being in business for yourself is not easy and many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that every business has its risks, and the potential to fail at any given time. Failure plays an important part in succeeding and therefore is not always a negative but rather a learning experience that enables us to self improve and make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistake twice.
360 Forged wheels did fail for Jordan but the designs and company still lives on, showing that a quality brand has been created and respected in a very short period of time. Despite his failure, Jordan is able to stand back up and create even greater wheels today and redefine the industry once more with ADV1 Wheels, a company that we believe creates fresh and flawless designs that leave everyone breathless. ADV1 Wheels today is growing at a pace much faster than 360 Forged did in the past and therefore proves that despite his past failure, Jordan Swerdloff does know one of the many secrets to success which is to NEVER GIVE UP!
Secret Entourage was a big fan of 360 Forged wheels and the business model that made 360 Forged wheels become the wheel of choice for many exotics overnight BUT it seems that things went sour during the peak of the recession. Can you tell us what exactly happened to your original 360 Forged company?
Basically, 360 went bad due to 100% overall lack of knowledge and experience. It really had nothing to do with the recession, and I don’t blame anyone but myself for what happened there. Basically I created a company that grew way to fast, with no proper organization, planning or knowledge of the industry. I started 360 as a side project since I had just sold my advertising company and had some time to start a new business. I never planned for it to grow the way it did at all, and neither did anyone else including my manufacturers who couldn’t keep up with it all. The problems started when the orders got heavy. I made the mistake of only selling retail which was a huge problem, all customers paid with credit card, and with no real experience with merchant services on a large scale like this, I was unaware of the problems that could happen. As orders began to become delayed due to manufacturing issues and back orders, customers began to cancel their orders and dispute their credit card charges. This led to the merchant accounts being red flagged for high risk, and all of a sudden, no more money. They informed me that they would be needing a $150k reserve in order to keep the account active, and the money would come from the daily charges, meaning the next $150k made would go to them and held in reserve for 12 months. This obviously was a huge problem as 360 was started with the small investment that I had and didn’t have any substantial cash flow available to keep this afloat during this reserve issue. I didn’t come from money, and had no access to any loans or investors to help with this, so my only choice was to move forward and try my best. Finally the reserve was met and funds started to trickle in again, but by now it was too late, new money went to paying old orders, and the company was in a financial mess. I couldn’t get customers orders out which they paid for, charge backs continued to come in, manufacturing cut us off for not paying for all the sets that were ready and so on. Meanwhile, as this was going on I still tried my best to keep things positive and motivate my team. Sales were always steady despite all the issues and this helped me fight and keep the company open as long as possible, but a problem like this for a small company is almost unrecoverable without some sort of funding and eventually the time came where I needed to make a decision to sell and get the company back on it’s feet and fill all the open orders once and for all.
This interview by itself will raise quite a bit of controversy, There are many people out there who still haven’t accepted your decision to sell 360 Forged and move on to something new. What made you decide to sell 360 Forged wheels to Forged Distributing?
Yes, I’m sure this interview will cause a lot of questions and comments, but this is all verifiable and accurate despite what everyone may have heard and all the rumors that were spread about me. I sold 360 because I had to, someone needed to come in with some money and catch up all the orders, get people their refunds and end the problems the company was having. This required a few hundred thousand dollars by that time and there was no way I could come up with it. At that time, Alain who is a personal friend of mine since we were 9 years old was working at 360 helping me with production and getting the company caught up. He was originally my partner in 360 when we first started, and I ended up buying him out after a few months due to personal reasons. Long story short, he saw the opportunity, felt that he could get the money together through some investors, so he and I made an agreement for him to purchase 360 from me. The amount that 360 was purchased for was the exact amount to cover all open orders, refunds and debt, so I basically sold the company to cover all the open issues. I also agreed for him / Forged DST (a company formed at that time) for them to use me as a scapegoat for the companies problems and explain to the public that they were there to clean up the mess. I agreed to this, not knowing how out of control it would get and how hard it would be for me to clear my name but I agreed that there needed to be a good marketing campaign such as this in order to rebuild the companies name and regain the trust of the public. I didn’t agree with the way this was handled however and it led to rumors and a huge misconception of the entire situation, however it got the job done. Customers orders were filled, debts were paid and 360 caught up on the issues.
I feel that I made the right decision and I’m glad that everyone was taken care of. Alain has done a great job cleaning everything up and he seems to be running the company very well now. He’s a good, honest person and 360 is still a great product which still has lots of potential. Overall, I feel that everything happens for a reason and the entire experience was like a crash course in “Wheel College” which I can now say that I’ve experienced every aspect of and I’ve taken these lessons and used them to my advantage when creating ADV.1 which is a model of what a wheel company should be: incredibly organized, well planned, and financially secure. The company runs like a well oiled machine, the quality of the wheels is unmatched and the styles and options are unlike any other company. All this was a product of past experience and would not have been possible without going through the 360 Forged experience.
Enough talk about 360 Forged and out with the old and in with the newest and hottest ADV1 Designs. I have always said that your 360 Forged designs were simply stunning and it would have been hard to top, but you made me eat my words with the release of ADV1 Wheels which are simply breathtaking. What can you tell us about the ADV1 Wheels and what inspires your designs?
Thanks! I really put a lot of time and thought into all of the ADV.1 designs. Every last detail, every angle, profile, and line was carefully designed. There’s 2 different types of designs when it comes to wheels in my opinion, the most common of which are poorly executed copies of popular designs which companies rename and sell. The other small percentage of designs are made not with the intent to design what you’d think people will buy, but to design what you would love to see on your own car. A lot of people can’t understand this, I guess it’s hard to explain but the truth is I design wheels that I personally love and think of the design as something I would want to see on one of my own cars. I’ve always been heavily involved in design, from artwork to graphic design and advertising so I guess this has a lot to do with it as well, which is why a lot of people have a hard time coming up with innovative designs that stand out, since this can’t be taught or even imitated. Either you have an eye for this or you don’t, just like if you can paint or you can’t. Another factor in a wheel design that most overlook is the profile. A wheel is a 3 dimensional sculpture, not a 2d drawing so the profile, and angles on all sides are equally as important as the frontal design. The ADV.1 deep concave profile in 3 piece and in 1 piece has absolutely changed the industry and completely become the new model for wheel design, a perfect example of how important the profile design is which most previously overlooked and were constrained to the limitations of the cookie cutter forgings which were available in the past. I’ll let the industry catch up before releasing the next surprise : )
Tell us a little bit about the different lines you carry (1 piece, 3 piece, etc) and the built process that the wheels go through before they get shipped out?
ADV.1 has a full line of 1 piece lightweight forged wheels and 3 piece forged wheels. We’re also about to launch our cast program for a less expensive version. The 1 piece line offers some developments that I’ve designed which I felt were a necessity for the industry such as the deep concave monoblock forging. A perfectly straight concave profile, and individual lathe profile versatility meaning each application is specifically machined with it’s own profile depth as opposed to just a taller or shorter backpad depending on the vehicles offset. It’s a very expensive and time consuming process, but in the end we’re able to provide a wheel that no one else can. Each application is literally like an entire new wheel design with nothing shared with any other file. For example, a Lamborghini Gallardo 20×12 rear wheel has an entirely different profile and design than the same style 20×12 rear for a Porsche 997 Turbo. This ensures that each vehicle gets the maximum depth allowable for that car as opposed to a “universal” profile which isn’t too deep but it fits high and low offset applications. Although much more cost effective this option is not for ADV.1 at all and we don’t make wheels for manufacturing efficiency. Similar engineering is involved in all of our 3 piece wheels as well. Every vehicle has multiple options from deep concave / minimal lip or max lip / minimal concave depth. Again, completely unconventional, and inefficient, however this allows the end user to have a truly customized, individually engineered wheel designed to their exact specification and taste. ADV.1 offers by far the most versatile wheels available in the industry today with literally hundreds of options and individual engineering that’s never been seen or done before.
You are one of the few people (along with our other sponsor Sr Auto Group) that had the pleasure of working on the New Lamborghini Reventon. Can you tell us what that was like and how you selected the wheels for that?
That was an exciting project, and really got a ton of attention for both of our companies. SR is a great dealer that we have in the Vancouver area and they gave us the opportunity once the car was confirmed, so obviously we couldn’t pass this up. The only problem was, they needed the wheels in about 2 weeks for the Vancouver Intl. Auto Show. I knew the car would be an incredible showcase for the new 3 piece deep concave forging being such a low offset car so we all pushed as hard as possible to get the engineering work done and make this happen in time. They gave us free reign to do any style and finish, so we went with the new ADV05 Deep concave with an option we call “No legs” which utilizes maximum concave depth and minimal lip size. I think the whole deep lip phase is done with, and I always lean towards a small lip / max depth setup so that’s what we did. As far as the finish for me this was obvious, matte black lips and inner barrels with a brushed centers coated with a black tinted clear coat, duh! Everything came together perfectly, fitment, finish, and even deadline. The wheels were done just in time, assembled and shipped out same day for delivery and install the next morning at the show! As you can see the end result was spectacular.
Which one of your many designs is your favorite? which is your best seller?
I’ve always wanted to design the perfect 5 spoke, so the ADV5.1 deep concave monoblock is by far my favorite choice. It’s simple but aggressive, and I think it looks incredible on any vehicle. It’s not the best selling design, although we do sell them constantly, the ADV7 and ADV7.1 mesh style design is overall the highest selling design we have available. I think there’s nothing like a classic, simple mesh style and apparently many agree.
Last time we talked you had quite a nice collection of cars, from your CLS55 AMG to the all mighty Ferrari F430. What cars do you have now? What types of ADV1 wheels are you rocking on them?
That’s a popular question, but one of the many lessons learned for me was to reduce overhead, both personal and business. Although I use all my cars as advertising tools, which is very effective, I’ve learned to slow it down a bit and be more responsible. So, instead of the 997tt, CLS63 AMG, F430 and Range Rover Sport, I reduced the stable down to a CLS55, Z06 and the wife’s Range. Still pretty decent but I’m trying my best to let the business grow before stepping into a new toy. I’ll be turning 30 in October, so if things continue to do well I’ll look into another F430, I loved that car! Otherwise an LP640 would do also : ) Sadly, with a 2 year old boy and another on the way it’s more like a Honda Odyssey in my future instead of an exotic…
The CLS55 has the worlds first set of ADV10 Deep concave wheels on it, which has been heavily publicized and the car has been released in several magazines internationally, and hundreds of internet sites. Z06 gets out of the body shop after a little fender bender recently and I’ve got a brand new set of ADV05.1 Monoblock wheels being installed, and lastly the Range sporting some used OEM Supercharged RR Stocks lol, no point putting wheels on it since the wife seems to think that scraping the wheels on the curb means she did a good job parking… (SE: This seems to be a problem worldwide, LOL )
Tell us about your team, the ones behind ADV1 Wheels?
ADV.1 is a very small company and I have every intent on keeping it this way. With a small team I can be sure that we’re all very familiar with every order, and every customer instead of a bunch of sales guys answering the phones. You speak with myself, Miguel who handles sales and wholesale, or Sismai our secretary. Miguel and I are both owners of ADV.1 and he’s been with me through the good times and the bad times. He’s great with customers and dealers, and has very much become the first point of contact for most people. He knows all of our dealers on a first name basis, and has a great relationship with everyone. In California, at the manufacturing facility we have 2 production managers on staff who handle all the orders and make sure things are organized and on schedule. Besides that our engineer handles all the files and applications, and everyone else handles behind the scenes such as machining, and finishing. Small, yet highly efficient operation.
If you look back to the start of 360 Forged to the birth of ADV1 wheels today, what are some valuable business lessons learned with all the ups and downs you have had?
Wow, I’d have to write a book on this…I’d say the most important lessons learned were:
- Financial planning and management. Those books need to be 100% organized, everything needs to be documented and no unneeded expenses whatsoever. We stick to our budgets, and have a team of accountants who handle all the book keeping, reconciliation, and financial organization.
- Customer service and attention to every last detail. I personally deal with any issue, and make sure that it’s handled quickly and properly regardless of the cost, I always make sure that the customer is taken care of 100%. Any issues, delays, or warranty claims go straight to me so I can be sure we don’t have any 360’s again. I used to let everyone handle everything for me, and as many of you know – no one will handle issues like the owner. Lesson learned, and now we have nothing but happy customers.
- A highly organized production system: an absolute necessity when dealing with the large amounts of wheels that we make. Every order is custom built and has 100’s of tiny details that need to be tracked and organized to ensure there aren’t any errors. I keep documented and detailed record of every order to ensure that there are minimal problems and the fastest possible lead times. This system that we’ve developed called “The Matrix” has helped streamline production immensely.
- #1 most valuable lesson learned, take it slow…
What steps have you taken to ensure the growth and long term success of ADV1 Wheels?
Every step possible. When you go through the school of what not to do, it becomes very clear what needs to be done the next time around. Slow steady growth, extensive organization, and personal 1 on 1 service. These tools backed by competent, experienced manufacturing, incredible design and marketing and a strong dealer network are the ingredients necessary for long term industry leading companies. And most important, incredible quality. Without that the rest is useless.
Tell us about the vision you have for the future of ADV1 and where you would like to take the company?
I plan to keep ADV.1 as a small, boutique style company offering only low volume, high end wheels for exotic vehicles. The biggest focus to remain on design and engineering, instead of volume and productivity. We only cater to the true enthusiast, and have no interest in the mass market. Creating exclusivity and lifestyle that only the best can belong to is key to our growth, taking over the industry will be left for another day :) I just want to make wheels that I love.
Any direct words to those who are reading this?
I just want to make it clear that despite the rumors out there about 360 Forged and me, I’m a normal guy with a family. I work over a 100 hours a week, I work hard to support those I love and making wheels is my passion, not just a business. I had a business go sour due to my own mistakes, and competition who kicked me when I was down, but instead of selling 360 for money, which I could have done in an instant, I sold it for the guarantee that every customer was taken care of and every debt was paid. I walked away with nothing, and had to rebuild from scratch while supporting my family. During this time I struggled like I never thought I ever would but this downfall has taught me the lessons I needed to learn to grow while giving me the determination and drive to make sure that only 9 months later, ADV.1 is bigger and better than 360 ever was. If anyone is owed a dime from 360 Forged while I was the owner I welcome you to call me directly and I’ll make sure you’re taken care of if not by 360 then by myself personally.
I also want to thank everyone for their support and a few key people who stuck their neck out for me, and took a chance on ADV.1 despite everything that was going on: Omar and Jean at Active Autowerke, Jorge at Wheel Addicts, Matt at GMP Performance, and Ben at Wheels Boutique. You guys put your names on the line to help ADV.1 grow and it means a lot to me.
Well, this pretty much concludes our interview with Jordan Swerdloff, the owner and designer of ADV1 Wheels. We want to take a moment to thank Jordan and his team for taking time out of their busy day to talk to us. We at Secret Entourage are confident that ADV1 has a bright future and will continue to deliver some industry leading designs in the months to come.
Remember that failure in itself is the secret to success.
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