American Autowire is the manufacturer of the industry’s finest OEM restoration, modified restoration and universal wiring systems for classic cars and trucks.
Automobile restorers and enthusiasts turn to American Autowire for wiring harnesses, accessories and parts for their automotive restoration and repair projects. Like the slogan says, their American-made products make wiring easy.
As American Autowire’s Chief Operating Officer, Jim Cardona is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the company’s business development, manufacturing operations and product development.
He has 35 years of experience in both the automotive OEM engineering industry and the automotive aftermarket manufacturing sector. Jim previously served as Vice President of Operations at M&H Electrical Fabricators in Santa Fe Springs, CA and spent nearly 20 years with the Chrysler Corporation.
Interview With Jim Cardona, COO Of American Autowire
Question: You just relaunched the American Autowire website. What does the new website do that the old website didn’t?
Our old website had very limited search capabilities. It was based solely on keyword searches. The new site has a year/make/model search, so customers can search for all products available for their particular vehicle.
They can also search by choosing one of our three product lines and narrow their search from there. And we still have the keyword search for anyone looking for something very specific, or for anyone who already knows the part number they want to view or order.
The new site also puts a lot of focus on our social media presence. Above the fold, we have accordion-style views of our YouTube channel, Twitter feed and Facebook page. We’ve found that frequently updated, fresh content through multiple venues is essential.
We post live updates and photos from the car shows that we attend throughout the year. Some of these shows are enormous, and people will use these live updates to find us at the shows.
We also use social media quite a bit for new product announcements. We can distribute press releases, product photos, installation photos/videos and instruction sheets all before the products even hit the market. Social media creates the biggest buzz for our new products.
Question: American Autowire has two very different audiences – distributors who sell your products and consumers who buy your products. How do you balance your marketing and adjust your message to connect with both audiences?
Our marketing efforts focus mostly on the end user, whether it’s our direct consumer or the customer of one of our distributors.
That includes a LOT of brand promotion and a presence at national events around the country.
In the automotive aftermarket industry, most distributors know all the players in manufacturing. The key is to create the demand via the end user, so the distributors have no choice but to carry your products.
From there, it’s up to us to support our dealers and develop the long term relationships that make most of the aftermarket companies successful.
Question: Classic cars, or muscle cars, have been a major part of American culture for more than 50 years. How important is the “American” in American Autowire?
We put an American flag on the front cover of our catalogs for a reason. Our industry is focused solely on American cars and trucks. Our customers demand quality, American-made products from the aftermarket industry, which is why we are proud of the fact that we manufacture our products in the USA.
At the numerous car and trade shows that we attend throughout the year, the number one question that we are asked is if our products are American-made. It doesn’t matter how good your product is. If you answer “no” to that question, most people will not buy your product.
Our customers are proud of the vehicles they build and restore, and they need to know that their vehicle is American-made from the headlights to the taillights.
Question: American Autowire has a strong presence on YouTube. How are you using the platform and how effective has it been as a marketing tool?
Our YouTube channel is an extremely valuable tool for our product line.
Recently, we’ve taken our most frequent technical support questions and addressed each of them in a how-to video. This initiative has not only reduced the number of technical support calls that we receive, but has also been successful as a pre-sales marketing tool.
We maintain an FAQ/Tech Tips archive on our website that had always used text and photos to deliver information.
We’ve incorporated a number of videos into that section that make it even easier for our customers to troubleshoot issues. Testimonials also mean a great deal to our end users, and our video testimonials promote credibility.
We constantly promote our YouTube videos via Twitter, Facebook, email newsletters, catalogs and DVDs. We have a lot of traffic to our website that we can directly attribute to YouTube videos.
Question: 2012 marked the 25th anniversary for American Autowire. What did you do to recognize this milestone?
We promoted the 25th anniversary of American Autowire on our catalog covers and then with a message from the owners on the inside cover. We held a 25th anniversary celebration with all of the employees over the summer, and we presented the owners with silver plates commemorating the event.
Longevity in this industry means a great deal, and we promoted that with 25th anniversary shirts and hats at the 20-plus car and trade shows that we participated in during the year.
In today’s age of digital marketing and social media, our customers still ask for promotional items like shirts and hats at every show. What started as a two-man operation in a basement has grown into a successful business in a 30,000 square foot facility with more than 60 employees.