This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of THE SHOP magazine.
By Maura Keller
For more than 14 years, Prestige Motorsports in Concord, North Carolina, has been building personalized performance crate engines tailored to each customer’s vision. As with many small companies, its journey began in a small, two-car garage.
Starting with the bare minimum, Prestige Motorsports now houses a full machine shop with state-of-the-art CNC equipment, an in-house dyno testing and development lab, and a performance installation center.
“With a dream and a passion, along with continued requests for more than just an engine package, we have pioneered what is called the Ultimate Turn-Key Package,” says Shawn Meekhof, marketing and events specialist. “Ford, Chevy, LS, Mopar; street, race and marine—we build all-American muscle.”
Every engine is dyno-tested, he notes, “as it is the best way to verify the quality of our work, the integrity of each component and the reliability of every engine we construct.”
The packages he references include a cooling system, engine, transmission and fuel tank ready to drop in—shipped in one crate to a customer’s door.
Meanwhile, back in Concord, Prestige Motorsports’ installation shop handles complete restorations, engine installs, suspension and brake upgrades, custom fabrication and related projects. It also offers remote EFI tuning to engine shops and other clients at an hourly rate.
So, who are Prestige Motorsports’ key customers? Essentially, they are enthusiasts looking for a custom-built power plant personalized and tailored to their individual needs.
“These engine packages are not cheap, so our customer base generally has disposable income to spend,” Meekhof says. “Since everyone wants to make sure they are getting a good deal, we generate educational videos and provide the best service possible to ensure the added value doesn’t go unnoticed.”
A TEAM EFFORT
Over the years, the Prestige Motorsports team has worked on a variety of collaborative projects, including a 1964 Ford Galaxie restomod and a 665-ci big-block Chevy air boat engine in conjunction with Air Flow Research.
“As part of the Holley promotional sweepstakes engine giveaway program, we have now built six different engine combinations as free giveaways, working with the great team at Holley Performance,” Meekhof adds. “We are very proud to work so closely with Holley and are pleased that they trust our team to get these custom-built engines together and delivered to the winners, with great coverage throughout.”
While highly visible projects are satisfying, Meekhof also enjoys updating the shop’s retail customers on their engine builds with images and videos in real time.
“We set up all of our customers with a shared file and whenever we make progress on their build, we add an image or video to their folder and it sends (a notice) directly to the customer’s email,” Meekhof says. “We love getting replies from customers when they see their engines coming together while they are at work. It literally makes their entire day.”
With so much positive energy, what is the best part of working at Prestige? Meekhof says it’s coming in each day and seeing something new.
“We never stop and are always working on a new engine combination to improve our products for the end user. The leadership at the top is extremely driven to progress the business and not rest on our laurels at all,” he says. “We know in order to keep the doors open in a highly competitive industry like this, we need to keep innovating and improving our products day-in and day-out, so that is our goal each day.”
Of course, walking into work and hearing a big-block revving on the engine dyno or watching a turbocharged small-block on the hub dyno is a great added benefit.
“Every day is something new at Prestige and there is always something cool going on,” he adds.
Operating a small business in a 10,000-square-foot facility comes with its share of challenges—especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic and today’s ongoing supply chain issues.
“The pandemic really hindered our ability to get the parts here to continue building custom engines,” Meekhof recalls. “That said, we became busier than ever with many new orders, yet we had some employees out sick for extended periods of time that put us behind as well. We also have quite a few shows and events that we like to attend and support that were canceled in 2020 that affected our marketing efforts.”
While ongoing supply chain interruptions have created new challenges, it’s also an area where the Prestige Motorsports’ team truly shines.
“We are out-of-the-box thinkers; therefore, when certain products were unavailable, we immediately searched for quality alternatives,” Meekhof reports. “We also made a large investment to house more inventory to reduce downtime waiting on parts.”
The company keeps plenty of inventory stocked and ready to go, including frequent movers and hard-to-find “one-offs” it knows will be needed for a specific project.
Prestige Motorsports also monitors its production very closely, along with vendor pricing. This practice has been more time-consuming than ever over the last two years as supply chain prices have risen drastically.
“We look at what similar competitors are offering and take feedback from current and potential customers to understand what the market demands,” Meekhof says. “To better maintain pricing, we have started manufacturing more components in-house while continuously looking at ways to improve productivity and efficiency within our manufacturing.”
The 20 employees who make up the Prestige Motorsports team are truly the backbone of the company’s success. As Meekhof explains, the company is thankful to be in an area where talent isn’t too hard to find.
“As with anything, sometimes it’s who you know and what industry contacts you have. Nonetheless, providing a good working environment, proper onboarding and training, as well as offering continuing education and room for growth all helps in retaining great employees,” he says. “We offer vacation and benefit packages along with flexibility to adapt to the everchanging world. It is all about our employees, because without them we are unable to grow or sustain.”
As part of the company’s marketing efforts, Prestige advertises mainly on Facebook with boosted posts and targeted ads. The company is back up to around 17,000 followers after its page was hacked in March 2022, prompting a total shutdown and reset.
“We use social media extensively here at Prestige. This includes daily posts on Facebook and Instagram (33,000 followers), and we also have hundreds of videos on YouTube. We showcase all our engines on the dyno with more in-depth information on custom projects. We also have a TikTok page to post more fun videos of engine builds that is different from our other social media,” Meekhof says. “We want it to be very professional but really show people what we do here on a day-to-day basis—not just a Photoshopped image of one perfect day at the shop.”
Meekhof finds that the company’s educational videos with technical information are well-received. They are designed to instill confidence and provide potential clients with the tools to make more informed decisions, while encouraging follow-up contact with the shop for additional information.
Team members also attend many events throughout the year promoting the company and its products.
“We believe it’s important to support events in our industry to keep it moving forward and to keep our name out there as much as possible,” Meekhof adds. “We are also a sponsor of the local FoxtoberFest car show in Concord and we host an open house at our shop for FoxtoberFest guests in town with free food and drinks and shop tours. We offer visitors a chance to watch an engine on the dyno and more.”
Prestige Motorsports also works with multiple nearby shops, including locals who offer body and paint, interior restoration and related services.
“We provide them with vehicle-specific packages for their builds,” Meekhof says. “These are great relationships that we are constantly cultivating.”