Aftermarket After Hours: Post #0 - Midwest Origin Story
The Myth, the Legend, The Walt:
How Midwest Aftermarket was Born
Midwestern Noob Alert
Hard to believe that I started working here at Midwest Aftermarket a little over six months ago. Time does fly. When I first arrived, I was a total noob, at least when it came to how much fun everyone has at Midwest Aftermarket, but also to the origin story of how a little start up that was birthed in our CEO Cass Cooper's house grew into a serious contender in the aftermarket parts industry.
Today in our inaugural blog post, I'll interview Cass to get the true story behind the Myth, the Legend, the Walt: the origin story of Midwest Aftermarket. I can't lie. I'm pretty excited. And truth be told, I'll be hearing it for the first time myself.
Even though I recently revised our "About Us" page, I still think I'm just now starting to realize what Midwest Aftermarket is all about. Our business ethos is something that I believe carries over to the customer and is one of the reasons people keep coming back to us when they need truck or Jeep accessories.
As I have come to know and love both the company and the people I work with, I can't help but marvel at how such an enterprise possibly got started. Today, we'll explore that in our first blog post ever, #0- our Midwest Origin Story.
Aftermarket After Hours Blog Post Structure
While this is still just our first blog, we came up with a tentative organization to the post, so if you'd like to see what we are planning on covering each week, here's the outline:
Intro: we introduce ourselves & mention our main topic this week
The Parts Professor's Product Spotlight: highlighting aftermarket product we are particularly excited about at the moment
Night Edition News: Updates on our project truck, 2018 Dodge Ram 1500 Night Edition
In the Garage this Week: Our Main topic for the post
Outro: rotating goofy endings including--
--Cool Stuff Cass Buys Online
--Fun Personal Questions that aren't really related to the post
--Off-topic Crypto-Currency rants
& more, but we're keepin' it short cause "ain't nobody got time for that."
The Parts Professor's Product Spotlight:
Diode Dynamics SL1 LED Bulbs
I am psyched to announce this week the release of Diode Dynamics' new SL1 LED Bulbs for your headlights. We've done a full breakdown of this innovative new product in the lighting industry over in the Product Center, so check that out if you want to learn more.
We are excited to get a pair of these LEDs into our new 2018 project truck, our Dodge Ram 1500 Night Edition, as soon as possible. Diode Dynamics is still in the process of test fitting for the Ram at the time of this writing, and we volunteered to be the test subjects. We'll have more on this exciting process very soon.
In the meantime, some quick notes on these LEDs:
Street Legal: no tickets here.
Focussed Hotspot: more light where you need it, on the road.
No Additional Glare: won't blind oncoming traffic like HIDs can.
Thermally Cool: high tech and built to last.
Longevity: built to last upwards of 50,000 light hours?!
Fit: designed to simply replace your stock bulbs with no special kits required.
Affordable: DIY install and longevity make these headlights very economical.
Backed by a 3 Year Warranty. Simply a Better Headlight. Diode Dynamics.
Night Edition News: Wheels & Tires
So we had this great plan here at Midwest Aftermarket. We were going to do a whole series of videos and installs, product reviews and FAQ's on all the aftermarket parts we're planning on decking our 2018 Dodge Ram 1500 Night Edition out with. We all agreed it would be super cool to start by getting in a whole load of parts, stacking them up somewhere in the office or studio, and taking a picture of them to really emphasize how much work we will be doing to mod this baby from her stock starting point.
We knew a few parts that we wanted for sure, like the SL1's and these Deegan 38 tires, but for the rest we definitely wanted to get some feedback from around HQ and from our fellow customers and peeps who follow us on Social Media. We wrote up the blog post and got ready to publish it, when--guess what: the Fuel Avengers wheels and Deegan 38 All Terrain tires we custom ordered showed up.
We set them aside to await that epic pic with all or at least most of the product.
When we came into work the next day, the Deegans and Avengers hard mysteriously disappeared, along with the Ram 1500. By the time we learned they'd all been taken over to be installed at Ronco's, our favorite local garage, next door, we barely had enough time to run over and snap some pics before they were mounted and balanced.
Can we blame Cass for getting excited to see the new wheels on his sweet truck? Of course not. And we're excited to see them in action too. There's much more new aftermarket product to go for our 2018 project truck, so check out the blog post and hit us up on the socialz to let us know what you think of our tentative build so far.
Fuel Avenger Wheels & Deegan 38 All-Terrains
The Fuel Avenger wheels have all the appeal that we felt a Night Edition Dodge Ram needed, including DDT--Double Dark Tint. Gotta love it. We also thought the hexagonal design was pretty unique and sick.
And as for the Mickey Thompson's, no body ever went wrong going with MT tires! These Deegan 38's have some sharp lookin' tread that is designed to be all-terrain, taking on all comers--from off-road to daily driving and high way miles.
We did run into some interesting nuance when selecting the proper size for these wheels and tires. Normally, before we put tires/wheels on a brand new truck, first we'd lift her. This allows for much more clearance and options when it comes to wheel selection, particularly if you want to increase the size of your rims.
However, when it came to our new 2018 Dodge Ram 1500 Night Edition, we were told lifting her wouldn't be an option. Here's why: she comes equipped with a sweet Active-Level Four Corner air suspension system. And we F$&#ing love it, by the way! But this also means, no lift kit--at least not according to the dealership, though we are still privately exploring options because, I mean, who likes following the rules, right?
So in the meantime, we've gone with 20 inch wheels and 285/55R20 tires. We think it's going to look pretty hot. More pics to come when those tires are mounted and balanced.
In the Garage this Week: the Midwest Aftermarket Origin Story
The Myth, the Legend, the Walt
So this week I sat down with my buddy and boss, Midwest Aftermarket's founder and CEO, Cass Cooper, to talk about the true origin story behind Midwest Aftermarket. And we only occasionally got side tracked. I'll try to do his story justice as I sum up what made interview along with adding in some stuff we might have skimmed over.
Meet Cass Cooper
Cass' story starts out much as any Americans would. He went to his local high school. He took a bunch of standardized tests that he really wasn't too focused on cause multiple choice tests are lame. He got into a small community college because that's what you do after high school, right?
Pretty much. American Dream 101, eh? And while he was in college, he realized that what he was really into was the Interwebs. Fascinated with Google and Facebook and how all this data and search functionality comes together, Cass started to explore and learn more and more outside the classroom. He learned more about SEO, how running your own website works, what the rules were for selling on Amazon and eBay. Before you know it, he became an autodidact (fancy way of saying self-taught) Internet guru in all things eCommerce.
Around the same time, he became interested in aftermarket parts. There's something about small town, rural America and souping up your vehicle. Whether it's an aftermarket sound system or new wheels, we all grew up cruising the main drag in our muscle car or lifted truck. Fun times.
Blown away and overwhelmed by the amount of customization and aftermarket parts he could start putting on his vehicle at the time, a GMC Jimmy, he started doing something he does best--shopping online. The only problem was there were so many options and no really good site to get all the parts he wanted. He was trying to find a solid price with a quality dealer who had good customer service, fast and free shipping, and a great returns policy in case said product didn't fit. The struggle was real.
It isn't a huge leap to this next step. You just put two and two together. He had the knowledge and interest in eCommerce; he couldn't find find a website or dealer who offered the services he was looking for; exo facto--Midwest Aftermarket is born in early 2013 to fill that gap between consumer and affordable aftermarket products for Trucks and Jeeps.
The Garage Startup Days
Reminiscent of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Cass starts his new eCommerce business out of his own garage--where else? Seems like the only way to really make a startup these days. Alright, maybe most of it was run outta his living room. Either way, space obtained. Now he just needed a name.
His buddy, Steven van Ash comes up with the super creative company name: Midwest Aftermarket. It says what we do right in the title. We sell aftermarket parts. We're based out of the midwest. And suddenly, the annoyance of growing up in a small town in the middle of America finally turns into a blessing. Being centrally located is perfect for eCommerce. We can ship out to just about anywhere in the mainland US in two days tops. Couldn't have worked that out better if he'd planned it.
Cass "hires" his first employee, Cory "Big Country" Farris (shown right/below), his best friend and roommate (at the time), to start doing customer service. Cass sets up the website and starts selling through Amazon and eBay. The company expands; many more great employees join the Midwest Aftermarket family. And the rest, as they say is history. Sort of...
Finding the Right Building and Market
As the company took off, more and more great people joined the Midwest Aftermarket family. And before you know it, Cass needed a bigger building. He tried renting a few locations, but they were either too expensive or just didn't have the right features for the growing eCommerce company. He was about to buy some land and just start building from scratch when he stumbled upon this diamond in the rough...
Granted, the building needed a little work. But after a fresh coat of paint, a brand new roof, some plumbing fixes, and an Internet upgrade, the place was starting to feel like home.
A couple years back, Cass bought his first Jeep, and the company evolved once more. Realizing that the aftermarket parts industry is massive, he decided to take a more narrowed approach, focusing on vehicles we, here at Midwest Aftermarket, all love and parts we truly believe in. We pivoted into specializing in truck and Jeep accessories.
While the HQ remodel is still on-going, the summer of 2017, a major undertaking was achieved. The garage studio was created. Now we have a place to film install videos and take sweet pictures of new aftermarket product, away from the rest of the day-to-day operations.
And that pretty much brings us up to date, here at the beginning of 2018. Many great new employees have joined Cass on his quest to provide the best damn customer service in the biz all while selling top-quality products at competitive prices, with fast and free shipping, and a no-hassle return policy.
I guess you could say Cass did exactly what his company motto suggests: he dreamed Midwest Aftermarket up. Built it. And now, he's driving it on into the future. Here we come 2018. Hope you're ready for us.
Before & After From Beginning to Almost Done...
And then the Studio Garage
Just this year, 2017, we added on the Studio Garage and painted the Outside of HQ!
Office Floor Today
We eliminated our cubicles just this year, opting for a more Open Layout. And now we all have fancy sit-to-stand desks too!
With 2018 Dodge Ram 1500!
Midwest Aftermarket HQ
The Glorious Front of our HQ Building!
Outro: Cool Stuff Cass Buys Online
Every week we'll feature a rotation of silly, off-the-wall, and certainly off-topic outtros. This week we went with the aptly named "Cool Stuff Cass Buys Online" feature, which is about stuff Cass thinks is cool that he purchases typically on his smart phone. Super NEAT!
Cass really outdid himself for this first post, cause he got not one, but two cool products you've never heard of that you should definitely own. Please note that we, Midwest Aftermarket, are in no way affiliated with these products. We're just sharing them cause, well... Cass thinks they're cool. So here we go:
The Boie Toothbrush (shown below) is a rubberized bristle toothbrush that is 100% recyclable and lasts two times longer than your average tooth polisher. Offering a replacement head system, Boie claims to be the toothbrush of the future. The handle has it's own unique angle, allowing you to get those hard to reach places. And if you need an instructional guide for how to brush your teeth, Boie has you covered with this pictorial how to. Cass is very into teeth hygiene, so if he says it's good for your pearly whites, you can take that to the bank.
The second product/brand Cass wanted to spotlight this month was Life is Good. Specializing in fun and optimistic shirts for adults and kids, as well as some products for around the house and for your pets--did we mention Cass & his wife, Ashley, love dogs? Sooooo many dogs!--Lifeisgood.com is a great place to get cool clothing and wearable gear.
We all know that everyday stresses sometimes bring us down. Even working here at Midwest Aftermarket, easily the best and most fun job I've ever had, the day-to-day can still drag on, especially if you lose that pivotal ping pong match.
Life Is Good can help with that stress by surrounding yourself with humorous and fun-loving t-shirts and sayings. Whether it's that coffee mug with a silly phrase or an artsy phone cover, we gotta admit, we're fans.
The final reason to check out Lifeisgood.com is that 10% of their profits go to their Kids Foundation, devoted to"building a world where life is good for all kids." We couldn't feel more strongly about a cause if we tried.
Many of us here at Midwest Aftermarket, myself included, grew up poor or went through struggled youths. Even here in America, many children need our help. And if I'm going to buy a cool t-shirt with a truck on it, some of my money should go to help kids in need, wherever they may be. A toast to Lifeisgood.com. Now go buy a cool tee!
Review, Like, & Subscribe Por Favor
We hope you enjoyed our first attempt at a blog and a blog post entry. If you liked what you heard, or saw, or read, please like and subscribe. Better yet, write a review and tell all your buddies about us. As we grow the blog and our Youtube we hope to get into more great discussions about aftermarket truck and Jeep accessories, and maybe even interview some industry reps to talk about new product and innovative design in aftermarket parts.
A quick preview for future posts: we plan to discuss our prediction for the top 10 aftermarket parts for 2018. Let's see if we can agree on any of 'em. Pedal Commander, perhaps? Also, we'll touch on new releases for next week, particularly Bak Industries brand new Revolver X4 roll-up hard tonneau.
Until then, remember when you think Truck & Jeep accessories, think Midwest Aftermarket. We'll help you: