Katzkin Automotive Leather has emphatically deemed 2015 “the year of the truck.”
While so many OEMs are rolling out new light-duty pickups into showrooms this year, many only offer leather interiors in only the top, highest-priced luxury models. This provides a seat of opportunity for Katzkin, according to the 31-year-old company that specializes in providing personalized designs for most automotive makes and models.
“We are definitely seeing a resurgence in the truck market,” said David Giddings, vice president of marketing for Katzkin. “There’s a lot of buzz in the marketplace about trucks and a lot of people are buying trucks that typically wouldn’t be. That’s exciting for us because the truck market has always been a good market for us. Truck owners are very big into specializing their vehicles.”
Led by the introduction of the redesigned Ford F-150, the new Chevrolet Colorado and Ram models-”coupled with relatively low fuel prices-”Katzkin thinks the truck market is poised for tremendous growth.
“Truck prices have skyrocketed,” Giddings said. “They are no longer just a truck, but have become a luxury vehicle. But if you buy a new Ford F-150, it doesn’t come with leather unless you get the XL and pay an additional $9,000 for leather.”
Katzkin offers more than 40 different leather designs for the F-150, including a variety of colors and layers. Additionally, the company just introduced the Saddleback edition, similar to Ford’s popular King Ranch style, which Giddings believes will be the ultimate statement in truck luxury.
“It enhances the value of the vehicle, but it’s not just about luxury,” he said. “Many consumers prefer leather over cloth because it doesn’t stain or smell and is easy to clean. There are so many advantages that make leather a good fit for truck owners.”
Katzkin partners with new and used car dealers, as well as aftermarket installers, to reach the truck consumer. One advantage for dealers is the ability to work the cost of aftermarket leather into customers’ auto loans. Retail shops, on the other hand, can offer one-day installation thanks to Katzkin’s online configurator that helps consumers create their own design before coming into the shop.
“A customer can go to our website and pick their make and model of truck, then choose the leather seat design that they want,” Giddings explained. “They can either email it or print it out and bring into the shop before it’s ordered from our plant in Southern California. All we need is the code and we’ll produce the finished product within 24 hours and overnight it to the shop to be installed the same day the customer brings it in.”
Giddings calls it a combination of real-time technology and old world leather craftsmanship.
Katzkin also offers the addition of seat heating and cooling with its Degreez product line.
“It’s all about personalizing the vehicle with what the consumer wants,” he said, “and all of our studies show that consumers prefer leather.”
Katzkin maintains a national network of more than 2,500 professional installers.