New Horizon

Dec 1, 2009

This month’s story is about Custom Truck Parts’ new store in Edmonton. It is a state-of-the-art retail complex and distribution center offering the latest in cutting-edge design, fixtures, merchandising and services.

As the company’s flagship store, it represents the fruits of Custom Truck Parts’ labor, growing from humble beginnings as a limited selection distributor to a full-selection and full-service provider of specialty automotive products for today’s complex and discerning market.

Let’s take a look at how the store’s showroom design and displays positively impact its sales and efficiency.

Getting Started

Originally started in 1988 as a small wholesale distributor in Grande Prairie, Alberta, CTP Distributors-Custom Truck Parts Inc. has since grown to encompass four retail/wholesale locations serving western Canada. Each location offers a large selection of truck, SUV, Jeep and 4×4 accessories and performance parts.

The company started its evolution from wholesale to “all-sales” back in 1994 when Bill Kluyt took over as CEO. Kluyt recognized the need for a more complete selection of parts and accessories to provide jobbers with the goods they demanded.

He immediately began to add new products and eventually grew the line list from 10 brands to more than 160.

During that time, CTP also expanded its warehouse square footage and wholesale footprint by opening distribution centers in British Columbia and central/southern Alberta. CTP currently has more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse space, and offers overnight shipping to anywhere in western Canada.

Kluyt also saw the need to establish retail stores offering sales, service and installations to the warehouse locations. This now gave CTP combo retail/WD locations in Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Calgary and Surrey, B.C.

The store showcased in this article is a relocation of the original Edmonton building, which had a 2,000-square-foot showroom, to the new store that has a 6,500-square-foot showroom.

The new location was originally a Volvo dealership and offers amazing window exposure to light up the showroom during daylight hours while providing some unique design flair not normally seen in typical retail buildings.

It also presented some configuration challenges that all remodels do. In this case, the challenge required knocking down some walls!

Kluyt and his team looked to the new store as an opportunity to create a design that reflected CTP’s commitment to continued growth and expansion of products and services. They recognized that as the market continues to become younger and more sophisticated, today’s retailer must follow suit by offering the product lines and services the consumer demands, and in a fashion that excites and compels.

In other words, it better look hot or no one will look twice.

Start with Creative Colors

First the color scheme was chosen-a contrast between a persimmon-like orange and metal finishes of clear-coat-on-swirl steel, accented by black trim and hardwood-¦ and it works.

The design creates a stunning combination of hip, young industrial meets warm earth tones. It is a mix that is current and attractive, but has legs so it won’t look dated in the years to come.

It is also a contrast from previous CTP retail design motifs, which tended more toward heavy use of earth tones. Allowing product packaging and P.O.P. to turn attention away from CTP’s unique message of selection and service is not in the future game plan.

The perimeter walls, which are the foundation of the merchandising formula, employ a series of framed-out metal slatwall in clear-coat-on-swirl panels. These panels create merchandising statements. So, instead of one continuous wall, the breaks provide sections that can be merchandised clearly as singular lines or specific product categories.

Careful use of manufacturers’ posters, banners and literature add product identity, as well as information. Bold use of company ID in the form of graphics serves as a reminder to the consumer as to where they are.

Each of the perimeter walls has auxiliary lighting in the form of low-voltage halogen track lights. These lights offer eye-catching brilliance to any display, but are even more effective with metallic/reflective materials.

Custom columns were built in two sections of the store to feature seasonal merchandise. One is a 10-foot-wide-by-12-foot-high triangle, the other a 10-foot-wide-by-12-foot-high square. Each is color-coordinated with the perimeter walls and then topped by a suspended triangular truss system that employs halogen track lights for additional brilliance.

These columns call out for eye contact and direct attention to featured products. They create an imposing “monolith” of merchandising power of suggestion-you can’t miss ’em.

They match the perimeter wall in color, texture and customer-grabbing flash. And, like the walls, the slatwall material is industry-standard 3-inches on center, allowing any standard slatwall hook, bracket or accessory.

The merchandisers offer massive holding power for all types of carded, boxed or bagged goods. They have an added advantage of keeping your showroom looking great, even if you run low on inventory.

Excellent use of factory-provided P.O.P. was employed by the fine art of being “very picky.” Kluyt and staff chose only the displays that would enhance the look of their new showroom.

P.O.P. comes in many forms, from well-designed, high-quality fixtures and shelf-talkers to cardboard junk that steals the thunder from your showroom displays. As the old saying goes, “choose wisely.”

Freestanding merchandisers are a combination of 4- and 8-foot-long H-style mobile merchandisers and fixed 4-foot Wing TriDolas. All are finished in clear-coat-on-swirl steel slatwall and framed in black powder-coat.

Next, the waiting area is cleverly ensconced in a glass vestibule that allows customers to relax while waiting, but not be hidden away from the action. Not only are they still exposed to the dynamic displays and merchandising of the showroom, they are also entertained by industry-oriented videos, magazines and brochures. Remember: A captive audience is a terrible thing to waste!

The overall combination of wall display, custom columns, merchandisers, P.O.P. displays, showcases and assorted displays work in concert to dazzle and direct the customer to what they want to buy next. The combination of live samples, cash-and-carry availability and lots of sales tools has created a positive environment of sales synergy.

A Good Investment

Despite the sluggish economy that plagues all of North America, the new store has seen positive sales growth compared with last year, and new customer growth has surpassed expectations.

Kluyt and his management staff directly attribute the increases to the superior design and location of the new store. Just the word-of-mouth advertising alone from customers, suppliers and probably even competitors has the local market buzzing. And think of what they can accomplish when future advertising and promotional events kick-in!

From 10 product lines to more than 160, from two employees to 55, and from wholesale-only to “doing it all,” CTP has been very busy over the last 10 years. And now, during a tough time of recession that is affecting us all, Kluyt and his team had the foresight to continue moving ahead and not let themselves become mired in doubt about taking risk.

It is paying off. Their beautiful new store is a true design departure from their past, and people are noticing. When the economy turns around-and you know it will-Custom Truck Products will be ahead of the game, by staying in the game.

They have seen the new horizon of aftermarket retail, and are moving toward it.

In fact, the company is planning a grand opening promotional event in the spring that will include among many things a car and truck show and contests, live remote radio broadcasts and of course, factory representative demonstrations.

Good Selling!