The title of this group is appropriate to how I'm feeling: "Why I hate ECS Tuning."
This is my "messed up" ECS story. told through my singular lens. The opinions expressed here are just that, but are true to how ECS came into my life and made me hate their company. Settle in. This ain't short.
3 years ago today, July 1, 2015, ECS "acquired" Turner Motorsport incorporated, the company I had toiled to help Will Turner build up for 8.5 years. They promised the former owner, a guy I shared a small office with for over 5 years, all sorts of amazing synergies and upsides. We'd share the best of both companies to form a super-knowledgeable, cutting edge source of auto parts with unmatched experience and customer service.
Those were all lies.
When I arrived at Turner in 2007, they were a small niche / boutique operation that sold a couple million in parts per year, fueled by a handful of true enthusiasts. I had left a solid job at another respected BMW parts outfit for the chance to work for an exciting up-and-coming BMW Tuner that already had a reputation for racing and no-BS parts.
When the ECS management team landed at Turner for the first time after the buyout, I was of course guarded. My optimism quickly turned to disgust. My impression of them was smarmy. Ruthless. Greedy. And in some cases, completely inept. Most notably the the two former owners, who's opinion I held as low as one could imagine. They had sold controlling rights to their company only a year before, and were now "Co-CEOs" of the private equity owned entity, an asset of Betram Capital Investments.
Many of our numbers were better than theirs. Our customer satisfaction higher, returns lower, vendor relationships deeper, and our employee retention and advancement out of this world. We managed a better profit margin, taboot. (Who knew: When you have happy customers and employees, you can run a good business!) Seeing behind the scenes of Turner Motorsport and ECS Tuning, it was clear -- One was a company that earned its reputation, the other a Wild-West movie scene, pretending to know what they were doing, luring customers in with prices slightly lower than their peers, and growth that stemmed from mostly dumb luck, and past smart employees who had quit along the years. They had no clear vision besides growth-at-any-cost, to inflate their private equity owned LLC so they could dump it to another larger company in a few years and (hopefully) some key players would walk away millionaires.
It was official: Will Turner sold his company to the devil. A soulless machine that didn't care about the car community or its employees. It cared about one thing only: Profit.
They were insufferable, right out of the gate. I played along for a few months, as they made one foolish or unimaginable decision after another. As the Director of Operations, I had a bird's eye view of the deconstruction and dismemberment of a once great company.
I made several trips to ECS headquarters in Wadsworth, OH. What I saw was what I would describe as borderline inhumane treatment of employees. Unnecessary control tactics to ensure NO ONE at ECS had any "tribal knowledge" of their business. Because of this their employees had a demeanor like abused animals. Cameras over every desk. Unbelievably low pay. Tiny tiny cubicles. Unnecessary dress code from the 1940's. Isolated and key-code locked rooms for every department. I was one .of a select few who could freely walk through all of the departments, and see the inner workings of ECS and the people that worked hard behind locked doors.
And I really felt bad for them. I felt almost as bad for their customers. Their warehouse was a disorganized hive of slave-like labor, governed by fear and intimidation. Their shipments were POORLY packaged, their process riddled with opportunities for mistakes and human error, and the morale of their employees those the lowest I've ever seen.
As an IT and Ecommerce Manager, their system was one of the most poorly cobbled together hackjobs I'd ever seen as well. Their security and disaster recover was a joke. it's no wonder they had troubles with data breaches and massive credit card data hacking. (Google it!) This was 100% the worst working environment I'd ever seen. Run by delusional and inept management who truly believed they'd built the perfect machine. And now fueled by outside PE money and reckless abandon.
The Turner buy-out happened in July, and in December of 2015 they unveiled their new "plan" in a small conference room of ECS. It was the former owner, Mr. Turner, myself, the two "co-CEOs", and 3 or 4 members of senior management. I sat in the board room and watched Will Turner's jaw drop as they explained their master plan -- to consolidate the 50 employee Massachusetts based Turner Motorsport with Ohio. Their reasoning after months of research: "It would save $11k in shipping expense and 0.2 days of package transit time. "That's it???" I asked. At the time, Turner Motorsport alone (not including ECS) was spending some $30k a week in shipping. No one researched the advantages of combining the capabilities of both companies. I argued they needed to re-run their numbers for contrast before impulsively vaporizing Turner Motorsport. They had made up their mind and that was that.
So on December 15, I became aware that ECS wanted me to lay off the majority of my workforce. The best of the best, in a hot bed of Boston-area talent were about to be out a job around Christmas. A good portion of whom I had hired and trained, and all of which I worked along-side for years. Several employees pre-dated my years of service, including a few with 18-20 years of experience each. No offers of relocation. No concern or compassion. All business. Just to save a few bucks, and (as time would tell) to the chagrin of its customers.
The would also dissolve the in-house R&D and production, boasting their plans to send manufacturing to the same Chinese and Mexican companies ECS was already outsourcing to.
They'd keep the domain name and 800 number, and 4 sales reps to continue the perception that Turner Motorsport was an independent parts house. They also kept two customer service reps to handle all the shipping errors, damaged parts, wrong parts, and nightmare orders ECS had become so good at creating. They quietly dumpstered thousands of parts and sent millions of dollars worth of inventory (much of which they had no way of selling) to their Ohio warehouse. A once-great all-BMW parts house went from 50 employees to 6, remains to this very today.
Strangely they didn't want me to go, though. They wanted my experience (Ecommerce, IT, SEO, Management, etc) however they could keep me. They tried cutting me in on their private equity parachute "pie in the sky" incentive plan that other ECS managers were on. I turned it down. The incentive plan's legal paperwork was a joke. A labyrinth with only 1 outcome that might pay out a modest bonus, mired with a hundred of ways ECS could cut me out and $0 at their discretion.
Instead I made sure the laid off Turner employees got the best severances and treatment I could, and informed WIll Turner his ride with me as his right hand man was over. I quit on the 9th anniversary of my hire date, which was also the 5th year anniversary of launching a revamped Ecommerce platform that increased sales +40% overnight.
I still look back on that as an amazing job, with the most amazing people on the planet, that all came to a screeching halt because someone couldn't turn down a 7 figure payout (yes, 7 figure and decidedly not 8.) I often think how different my life and so many others would be had ECS not picked Turner as the first target of acquisition.
But they aren't done! ECS very quietly purchased Pelican Parts last fall. Good luck finding any press and PE newswire hoopla, like the Turner acquisition. They have kept this buy-out VERY quiet, as Bertram knows how bad ECS did with Turner "transition." Who will ECS buy next?
Do yourself a favor and get VERY picky about where you buy your German/Euro car parts. Starting asking: "Are you owned by ECS Tuning or Bertram Capital Investments?"
Read the ECS Glass Door, and know all the bad reports are 100% truth, while the glowing reviews are almost certainly planted by management to combat a dumpster fire that is their HR department.
I hope this clearly illustrates why I genuinely hate ECS Tuning.