The SEMA PRO (Professional Restylers Organization) Council is putting four restylers to the test this year in the Inaugural PRO Cup Challenge, a new competition that will see the participants judged on their ability to put together a marketable, creative and replicable build.
The four PRO Council members—Brandon McNew, Altered Garage; Cristina Jorge, Specialty Automotive Treatments; Josh Poulson, Auto Additions; and Dino Perfetti, Automotive Concepts—have all undertaken projects under these stringent guidelines and are currently putting the finishing touches on their vehicles in preparation for the final reveal at this year’s SEMA Show in November.
In the run up to final judging, THE SHOP Magazine will be speaking with each of the contestants to get their perspective on the competition.
For Josh Poulson, participating in the PRO Cup Challenge isn’t too different from what his shop, Auto Additions, has been doing for the last 40 years. Frequently working with dealerships near their Westerville, Ohio home base, Poulson and his team are always designing and building packages that appeal to a wide audience.
Along with the other three participants, Auto Additions is currently wrapping up a similar build for the PRO Cup Challenge. And to do so, Poulson is drawing upon their usual strategies of targeting the fringes of a particular market.
To target those customers, he says his shop will emphasize the aesthetics of a certain style, like off-road or blackout packages, without drifting into the extremes.
“We try to do a build so it’s not just one segment. We’d rather have the person who is a fringe customer,” Poulson said. “Someone who wants luxury but isn’t going to buy a Rolls Royce. Or someone on the fringe of off-road. Someone who doesn’t want to buy a lifted Jeep and get beat around.”
“We really like those customers that are trying to test the waters on some of these markets without breaking the bank. They’re the masses,” he added. “It helps the car dealership market it to a lot more than one type of customer. They can market it to multiple segments and open it up for a more likely chance of being sold.”
But as similar as the challenge is to the shop’s usual operations, this year’s SEMA Show will be a different experience from years past.
“For us, this is just an everyday thing that we deal with,” Poulson said. “But it’s exciting for us to be able to show what we do.”
And that, he says, could open some eyes—and a few markets—once the four vehicles are revealed in Las Vegas.
“There are some restylers out there that only do certain products, while what we’re trying to show, through PRO, is that you can do packages if you do a little bit of everything,” Poulson said. “And the packages are what people want.”
One of the primary benefits of packages, he says, is that it’s one stop shopping for a dealership. But it’s also any easily accessible market for most restylers because of the nature of the designs—something more than a few SEMA members might not be aware of.
“[The challenge] is going to do two things. It’s going to build their confidence that maybe they should jump into a segment of the industry that they weren’t before. The things we’re doing, any shop can do,” Poulson said. “The other thing is we’ll give them ideas. They’ll look at the vehicles we bring and they might say, ‘you know what? That’s a great idea,’ or maybe, ‘I’d do this a little different or that a little different.’ It doesn’t matter. As long as we’re getting them brainstorming ideas.”
And Poulson’s pretty confident that the challenge will be unparalleled in getting other restylers to think about how they can bring what they see at SEMA back home to their own shops.
“At the SEMA Show, there’s never been a group of cars, a competition, challenge or even builds that have been directly able to be remarketed, duplicated and sent to go right back to the car dealership,” he said. “Most builds are one-offs, customs, super-crazy or cool, but it doesn’t make you any money. These are real ideas that you’re going to get to go back to your market and start duplicating.”
For more information about the PRO Cup Challenge, including when and where to see this year’s contenders, click here.