This month in the Spotlight: Technicolor Customs. We spoke to Bo Scheffer, one of the company's two founders. He saw first-hand last year that the entire car market was collapsing, which also meant that occasion dealers no longer needed Technicolor Customs' services. Subsequently, Bo also had to liquidate his earthmoving business.
Fortunately, Technicolor Customs broadened its services, making them run better than they had ever hoped! But what exactly they do was still somewhat unclear. Naturally, we dove in for another inspiring entrepreneurial story.
How did the idea of Technicolor Customs come about?
Technicolor Customs' official founding date is April 2020, in the middle of the corona crisis. Although it has actually existed much longer. In fact, my companion Arthur and I already have so much experience in the industry that you would be selling us short if you only count the past year.
It is no coincidence that we started in the car industry. As a small child, I was already busy cleaning and polishing cars at the company where my father worked. And I loved it! That's how the love for perfecting cars actually started. Where it started with polishing cars, I eventually later started refurbishing and reselling scooters with my business partner.
That's how we actually kind of 'slipped in', so to speak. Gradually, in addition to scooters, we also started refurbishing cars. It was mostly a hobby. Over the years, our hobby got busier and busier and eventually it started looking more like a professional business than just a hobby. It was fortunate that I already had entrepreneurial experience and we were able to move straight into an acquaintance's car repair shop. So we immediately had a good basis for a flying start to our business.
What exactly do you do?
Motor-wise, we leave the car alone. We don't touch that part, except for chipping and tuning. In other words, giving the car more power and also making it run more soply and economical. We primarily deal with 'detailling' the car. This means that we deliver the car to the customer as new again. We call this 'showroom ready'.
So we do not give cars a simple cleaning, like the ones at the car wash. On average, we spend about two to three weeks on a car. That sounds long, but not when you realise what we do with a car and what you get in return. Besides washing the car, we also sand and polish the vehicle if necessary. This allows us to perfect the paintwork and finish all small details to the highest level. Then a wax or ceramic (glass) coating is applied over it. And of course we also wrap cars, which is also where 'Technicolor' comes from. In fact, Technicolor used to be a new technique that allowed film images to be much more colourfast on the canvas. Hence this name inspired us.
So in short, we do everything to do with the appearance of cars. Even the interior we do completely. Of course, that's part of the look too!
So what exactly is it, 'wrapping' a car?
When you wrap a car, you wrap the car with a kind of giant sticker sheet. But that's just for imaging purposes, because you absolutely cannot call them stickers. So they aren't. In fact, they are a superior vinyl film, specially developed to give cars and objects a total makeover. Besides wrapping entire cars with this film, you can also safely remove the film after years.
Car wrapping is a trend that blew over to the Netherlands from America, say about 10 years ago. Eventually, I first came into contact with it 8 years ago. Me and my comrade were car crazy back then, so we decided to delve into it. We were not the first in the Netherlands to start it, but there were very few companies doing it professionally at that time. The technology was still very new back then.
So we were already familiar with wrapping in terms of technique, but we did not know how it worked in practice. After the necessary training and certificates, we only really got to grips with this later and then we started working on it. Besides, we wanted to perfect car detailing first. That was our basis.
Now I see that wrapping kitchens is also an important part of Technicolor Customs. That's a bit different from cars. How about that exactly?
Funny you should ask! My companion, Arthur, is an interior design graduate. He has always had an interest in interior design. A few months after founding our company, we saw opportunities to wrap kitchens as well. This is also easier than wrapping cars, because you don't have weird corners as often. And so a new idea was born!
We also noticed that there were still very few good kitchen wrapping companies in the Netherlands. So we had found a real gap in the market! In good spirits, we jumped in. Wrapping kitchens soon went like a bomb. Thanks to the low set-up costs, we were able to make a living from it while continuing to build our business.
Technicolor Customs was founded at the beginning of the corona crisis. How did entrepreneurship go for you during a crisis?
The fact that we started wrapping kitchens pretty much dragged us through it. In the end, we survived the period well. But our primary service we started with, car detailing, was at a complete standstill. No one was buying cars anymore and collectors were keeping their hands on the purse strings.
Besides, my own business in earthmoving also fell completely flat. This while I had growth plans in mind where I could work less. Wrapping kitchens really got us through the difficult first period. Without the kitchens, we would definitely have had a very difficult time.
Your venture into earthmoving, how exactly did that go with corona?
Besides Technicolor Customs, as I mentioned earlier, I was an entrepreneur in earthmoving. We exported a lot of coal and ore to Germany, where the crisis hit hard. When everything went on lockdown there, there was immediately no more work here. Machines and staff were at a standstill, costing a lot of money. This was a bitter pill, because things were going so well before that that I was able to work less myself.
My own company in earthmoving therefore unfortunately did not survive the corona crisis. For me, that also meant that without wrapping kitchens, I wouldn't have made it as an entrepreneur either. That realisation was - and is - really scary. I really hated it. After all, it was a very well-run business. The machines I rented out were, I leased myself and were even more expensive than the rent on my premises. While everything was down, the costs of leasing just kept running. Moreover, what made it extra difficult was that the government kept not communicating when we could expect anything.
At the beginning of the corona crisis, I went to the full 110% to save the company. But I fell by the wayside for all the schemes. There was a lot of ambiguity worldwide. This bothered me a lot; as an entrepreneur, I saw (and still see) my company as my child. That makes it extra difficult to watch it go under, without being able to do anything about it. On top of that, my daughter was born in March 2020, which made it extra complicated. Fortunately, we had a buffer and Arthur and I had just started Technicolor Customs. Everyone was sitting at home and wanting to update their kitchens, so that was again very nice for us. But it was definitely an exciting period.
What is your best assignment so far?
There you ask. We've had lots of great assignments. From an old Volkswagen Polo G40, to a very luxurious Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
For instance, we now have a client with a silver 2018 Mercedes SL. The owner is extremely careful with his car, but it had been smudged with a cloth from a truck that didn't come off 1-2-3. So he went to a reputable company to have the spot of the smudges repainted. He paid top dollar for this, which was no problem; it had to be done neatly and well.
But, you can see the buzz coming of course: it was not neatly done. There were spray residues everywhere and overspray because it was not taped off neatly and accurately. They did not fix it properly, despite pointing it out to the owner. Then he finally came to us and instructed us to make it like new again. Otherwise, he will get rid of it. We think these are the most fun assignments!
We unscrewed everything, took off the paint that didn't belong on it and put the parts back. Where residual spray was still visible, we worked hard to repaint it neatly. We really didn't miss a detail. We took off almost every part and cleaned or sprayed it again. Think of the bottom plate, rubbers, jacking points, bolts, the tank lid and even the exhaust pipe was covered in spray.
During delivery, the customer was overjoyed with the result. And how happy we are about that! After all, if he no longer liked his car enough, he would sell it. We like perfectionists like that, because we are like that too. We understand him and his love for his car. That is precisely the bit of passion and attention we have for cars and in which we stand out. We really pulled out all the stops and the result is worth it!
What is the secret behind Technicolor Customs? How do you differ from competition?
That's simple. Passion and attention. Anyone can hold a polisher. We realise that too. But do you then automatically deliver quality? Do you then take a good look at your work? We have the drive to deliver the perfect car with full passion and attention, that is what sets us apart. Time and again.
That is the basis of Technicolor Customs and that is what we stick to. That is also a hard requirement for us with future employees. We have that passion and they must also have that passion and focus. We would have no use for someone who only comes to attend. Instead, we are looking for that perfectionist who doesn't miss a detail.
How do you guys envisage it? Will you continue to do this just the two of you, or do you have concrete plans for growth?
Anyway, we are already working with a car paint shop that is in the same building. But, we have just welcomed our first member of staff! We are very happy about that, especially because we think he will be very good at his job. We found him through the Pameijer foundation. Among other things, they help people with a distance to the labour market and help them find a job. We like the fact that this way, besides having a talented employee, we can also contribute to society.
In the very near future, we also hope to welcome our second staff member, also through Pameijer. So we are growing very fast and we are very proud of that!
Do you have any further plans for the future?
Yes, really a lot! We are going to move to new premises on 1 May this year. Together with our car paint shop friend, we will create a showroom for car enthusiasts. This will be the most beautiful detail studio in the Benelux.
Major brands in the wrap film industry are very supportive of this ambition and are happy to cooperate. We are therefore really looking forward to the upcoming move and what lies ahead of us!
What do you guys use Rinkel for and what do you think of Rinkel?
We use a 010 number from Rinkel and I find it really very convenient. Everything is in one place and I always have that with me. I find that especially convenient because I'm on the road a lot.
I turn the call forwarding on and off wherever or whenever I want. Plus, WhatsApp Business also works very well for our industry. We have a lot of contact with customers this way. Rinkel also listens well to me as a customer. I had a small comment about the app the other day and it has already been adapted: ideal!
In addition, Rinkel is also cheaper if you compare them with the "big providers".