Meet a Custom Exhaust Shop

Mar 10, 2010

BSM Exhaust Works in Lowell, Mass., is an eight-year-old specialty shop specializing in performance exhaust products. The company got its start more than 60 years ago as a scrap metal recycling business, and today offers high-quality custom exhaust services.

Owner Jason Betty operates BSM (www.BSMExhaustWorks.net) with three employees in a 3,000-square-foot facility.

Ever wonder what it takes to build a top-notch custom exhaust business? Jason took a few minutes recently to go over the basics.

Please outline the types of products and services your shop offers.

We are a small specialty shop specializing in selling performance exhaust products on our online store and eBay store, including headers, X-pipes, mufflers, tips, complete mandrel-bent systems and exhaust installation accessories. We install all the performance exhaust products we sell. We also offer high-end restoration/custom car building, but we only do one or two at a time.

How did the company get started, and how has it evolved to where it is today?

We originally started in the scrap metal recycling business in 1947 as H. Betty & Son Inc., and our love of antique/vintage cars and the need to have quality work done on them brought us into the exhaust and restoration business. We continue to run the scrap metal recycling business as well.

I personally do all of the custom pipe-bending myself and I take great pride in doing a neat job start to finish, giving the customer exactly what they asked for. We use all top-quality exhaust parts from brands such as Pypes Performance Exhaust, MagnaFlow, Classic Chambered and Flowmaster.

Three years ago I launched our online sales business. All the parts we have been selling and installing in our shop we also sell on our Web store, eBay store and over the phone. When customers order their exhaust products from BSM Exhaust, they are dealing with an experienced exhaust technician that will aid in getting them just what they need to get their project done right.

Please outline a typical job from start to finish.

Customers come to us with an idea of what they want their exhaust to look and sound like and we advise them as needed to make sure they get exactly what they want and can afford.

Do they need a crossover pipe? Is a dual or a single exhaust right for their application? These are the types of questions we will answer. Then we outline all the parts we will be using, from headers to exhaust tips, making sure the customer knows exactly what they are getting.

We remove the currently fitted exhaust system carefully for customer inspection and start our work.

Some custom-bent exhaust systems are bent on our BendPak pipe bender and fit to the vehicle precisely, clearing all moving components and fuel/brake lines, while other systems are pieced together using pre-bent mandrel bends and then MIG or TIG welded together as specified by the customer.

We also install pre-bent performance exhaust kits from Pypes Performance Exhaust. These kits come with all the parts needed for the consumer to install on their own, but some customers prefer professional installation.

Is there a high-profile or special project that you’re particularly proud of?

Our 1967 Camaro “Demolition Man” Pro Touring Resto-Mod project is one we are quite proud of. It’s a new ’67 Camaro body that we are building into a Pro Touring car.

It will have a new LS3 Corvette engine with super-matic transmission, Detroit Speed sub-frame and suspension, air conditioning, all the power accessories and comforts of a new car, with the look of a classic muscle car.

Who are your main customers?

Our main customers are men ages 30-55 that love cars and want theirs to sound unique to their taste and personality.

How do you find and keep good employees?

We are a family business, so I feel we have the best employees available. My brother, James, my father, Harry, and I all care about the business and the quality of our services.

Working with all family is not always easy, but we are blessed in that we all get along great.

I also want to give credit to our Web designer, Cangary LLC.

How do you set/maintain prices?

Everything we do in our shop is custom, so the prices vary. We are usually more expensive than, and not competitive with, other shops. Our service is unique and customized to fit the owner’s vehicle, so we charge a fair price for the work being done, but it is typically more than other shops.

You get what you pay for with BSM Exhaust-our work is excellent and no minor details are overlooked. Our customers know this and expect this from us, so they don’t mind paying a premium for our services.

As for the Internet/phone sales business, all of the parts we sell are very competitive if not cheaper than all the major online retailers and mail-order catalogs. We offer a great selection of top-quality exhaust products with great personal service via email or over the phone, quick shipping and a hassle-free return policy.

Please outline any type(s) of effective local advertising/exposure you’ve used.

It’s been strictly word of mouth and the Internet.

Do you offer Internet sales, and has it been effective?

Yes we do and it has been very effective. We are growing 10-15 percent per year.

How do you order/stock parts?

Most of our muscle car performance exhausts we stock and drop-ship are bought directly from Pypes Performance Exhaust in Hatfield, Pa. We have a great working relationship with Pypes and we have been with them since the beginning.

We get all our other exhaust brands from warehouses such as Racer’s Equipment Warehouse and Keystone Automotive.

What are the biggest challenges your shop faces?

Overcoming the poor economy of the last year and staying competitive in the exhaust sales has been difficult, but we still managed to grow through hard work, long hours, persistence and help from our vendors.

Do you have any alliances with local businesses that have proved beneficial?

There are not too many shops in my area that I feel work at the same level as us or offer the same quality, but I do work with one other exhaust shop in Lowell that does all our “stock” exhaust replacement jobs. We also work with a body shop in Haverhill that does some final paint work for our restorations.

What’s the best part of your job?

I enjoy the sales end of my business the best-working with people via email or over the phone and being able to help them get the performance exhaust parts they need to complete their vehicle and make it unique is very satisfying.

My customers like the one one-on-one service we offer and I enjoy helping them get just what they want and need.

What’s the future hold for your business?

I am always looking toward the future, keeping an eye on new exhaust products coming out to keep BSM Exhaust Works on the cutting-edge of exhaust sales and installations.

We will continue to offer the best exhaust systems and parts at prices competitive with the bigger retail stores and will continue to grow the sales end of the business, and always offer all our customers the personal, one-on-one service they have come to know and expect.