If you’re anything like us, you’ve noticed how incredibly intricate and beautiful fabrication work has become in the past several years. It’s not enough to simply connect two areas of a car—no, these must be joined in style now. Using everything from hard-to-source titanium material to oval-shaped stainless steel, innovations like pre-packaged pie-cuts and ready-to-weld raw material have shaped fabrication art into an industry all its own, and we love it. Our good friends at Vibrant Performance in Canada are heavily responsible for this current state of affairs. By offering the materials that fabricators need, they’ve helped to revolutionize the industry. We sought to speak with Deryck Griffith, the Sales Manager at Vibrant Performance, to ask him One Question about the current emphasis on artistic fabrication.
Because of his experience in the automotive industry and at the company, we knew his answer would explain the surge so sit back, and enjoy his take.
How has material construction and availability helped shape a new section of fabrication art in our industry?
Deryck Griffith, Sales Manager at Vibrant Performance: Over my 17 years in this industry, it has been an incredible journey to witness all of the changes and improvements in material construction. Also, how readily available the raw materials have become that are needed to fuel this fabrication boom. Before we can take a deep dive into this question, we first have to go back almost 20 years and picture the landscape of the industry at that time. Back then, there were significantly fewer people fabricating, and the ones that did were generally hardcore custom car builders. You also had some aesthetically interesting and appealing work being done by fabricators at some top Japanese performance fabrication houses in Japan. Finally, there was a smattering of up-and-coming trailblazers across the United States and Canada—many of whom are still around and continue to be well-respected leaders of our industry.
However, the bulk of the industry was very much focused on bolt-on performance, tuning parts, and dress-up accessories. This peaked with the sugar high that hit our industry after the first Fast and Furious film dropped. That was a crazy time, but like all market bubbles, it inevitably came crashing down spectacularly a few years later.
At Vibrant Performance, we rode the sport compact wave back in our early days, trying to keep up with the Joneses. By 2001, we began to actively pivot our business model toward serving the emerging fabrication niche with a small lineup of products consisting of mandrel bends, hose couplings, clamps, and fittings.
When the economy went off the rails in late 2007 and 2008, our industry got hit pretty badly, and a lot of competitors and customers went out of business. However, most of the trailblazing fabricators we had been serving for the past several years were continuing to grow their business, offer something unique, and carving out their own little niches while continuing to push the innovation envelope. It was at that point that we went all-in as a brand to cater almost exclusively to the fabricator. We had always been committed to supplying the best quality raw materials at a fair price and to be able to offer quick delivery thanks to our extensive network of distribution partners. This strategy served us well with our fabricators because it wasn’t always easy for them to source top-quality raw materials, and when they did find them, those items were often really expensive and rarely in stock. The market may not have been huge at the time, but we saw a ton of potential, and we committed ourselves to learn everything we could to serve our customers better.
As the years moved along, however, we started seeing an influx of fabrication shops without traditional retail storefronts emerge. The quality of the work coming out of these shops was improving rapidly. Material construction and the availability of those materials, through companies like ours, made it so much easier for these fabricators to be successful and profitable. That definitely played a part in shaping the fabrication art niche in our industry.
Despite a relatively flat year within the industry, the future is bright. Our customers continue to push us to deliver more and better fabrication components so that they can continue to push the envelope. Materials like Inconel 625, titanium, and 321 stainless steel used to be available only to the top race shops, but now they are becoming common on all sorts of builds, and we are excited to deliver these products to our clients. We have many items that have all played a part in giving fabricators the tools to bring their creativity and visions to life: our robust bend program that are available in both stainless and 304 stainless steel, our fluid delivery program that consists of top quality fittings and hoses, and our HD clamp assembly that allows for a fixed but modular solution for all of your charge tubing. We also have developed key accessories like silicone hose, our performance catch can, and our top-quality mufflers and resonators. The more accessible companies like ours can make these materials, the more it opens the door for automotive artists to express themselves with their amazing fabrication art, which only serves to inspire more people to get involved, thereby growing our industry and keeping the hobby exciting. We are all in this because we love to see badass cars built by talented fabricators. That’s the lifeblood of our business.
Thanks to Deryck for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us! Check out previous installments of One Question content right here.