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    Thread: Interesting Tale about ECS...

    1. Member madrussian's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 09:40 AM #1
      So a guy who used to be the right hand man posted up the "behind the scenes" story of ECS Tuning first acquisition of Turner Motorsports, along w/ others chiming in and offering more insider takes...

      Just thought it was an interesting read and worth sharing.

      Also of note, they bought Pelican Parts and Wayne is no longer running the show.

      Link to FB Post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...&theater&ifg=1

      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.

      Pass.

      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.

      -Dan Curtis

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    3. Member
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      07-02-2018 09:55 AM #2
      Good to know. Thanks for sharing. It helps explain my experience after purchasing parts and a lesson on why shopping by lowest price isn’t smart.


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    4. Senior Member 2.0T_Convert's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 09:59 AM #3
      This is my "messed up" ECS story. told through my singular lens.
      Valid criticism of a greedy company or an angry ex-employee upset he wasn't valuable enough to be part of the path forward?

      I'm sure any discussion will be from the rose colored glasses of "did my ECS order arrive on time and/or break?"
      Last edited by 2.0T_Convert; 07-02-2018 at 10:11 AM.

    5. Senior Member AZGolf's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 10:07 AM #4
      I've been through 7 different companies, 2 of which were bought out by other companies. If you don't like the new owner, get a new job. I've learned not to get emotionally involved in things that honestly don't concern me. The writer of the article isn't the owner or shareholder of either the purchasing or the acquisition company, he was just an employee. It's natural to be upset when your employer doesn't treat you well but your primary recourse is simply to get a new job as I myself have done when it's come to that.

      Second option though is just to start a new company again. Read up on business case studies and you'll see history is filled with people who build up a company, sell it to someone else, then turn right around and build another new company, sometimes even in direct competition with the company they just sold to! If ECS is so bad then it should be easy for anyone to come along and compete with them. In this day and age you can put up a virtual storefront with almost no up front costs using Amazon and/or Ebay as your storefront. If running your own online store is what you truly believe you can be successful at then jump on it.

    6. Member madrussian's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 10:09 AM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.0T_Convert View Post
      Valid criticism of a greedy growth or an angry ex-employee upset he wasn't valuable enough to be part of the path forward?

      I'm sure any discussion will be from the rose colored glasses of "did my ECS order arrive on time and/or break?"
      I dunno if I agree with you.... from the sound of it, he was offered the opportunity to be a part of it and chose not to, so probably the former over the later.

      I have plenty of stories and knowledge of the environment @ ECS and the (previous) owners due to being local and 15+ years of frequenting them among other things. Not sure if all the criticism of them is invalid or able to chalked up to "no local pickup" or "late shipping"

      That being said, they're no different than WalMart or Amazon.

    7. Member VdubXXIV's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 10:10 AM #6
      boohoo. Welcome to the world of business... Ive been on both sides of corporate buyout and guess what. The promises are almost 95% of the time empty.

    8. Member TheDeckMan's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 10:17 AM #7
      Shame that they will destroy Pelican

      Turner was great to deal with prior to ECS, hell after. Pelican has already been a PITA due to ECS shipping tactics of "In Stock" when they do not have it in stock.
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    9. Member uberR32's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 10:30 AM #8
      Interesting! I happen to be a Pelican customer, and I recently received a call from a classic car dealer who “bought customer data” and offered to buy my Porsche.
      Quote Originally Posted by jackboots View Post
      Wow. Its like a bicep with six-pack abs made entirely of fists.

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      07-02-2018 10:35 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by VdubXXIV View Post
      boohoo. Welcome to the world of business... Ive been on both sides of corporate buyout and guess what. The promises are almost 95% of the time empty.
      This..


      Also less than a full paragraph on Will taking a pay out being the actual cause of all of this? It isn't ECS fault people are out of work.. it is Wills. It isn't ECS fault that allegedly customer service and company opinion are down.. It is Wills.

      I don't even really care if Will took the money, good for him, but the fall out is his doing.



      I did hear about the paranoid work environment from someone who went to work there for a short time. At the end of their trial period when they were offered a position they politely said no fkn way and left.

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      07-02-2018 10:46 AM #10
      This is unfortunate, I use Pelican often for the 951.

    12. Member atomicalex's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 10:57 AM #11
      I saw this today, too.

      It explains a bunch of the weirdness at ECS. I really do try to avoid them - you never have any idea what is going to arrive, or when.
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      07-02-2018 11:07 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by uberR32 View Post
      Interesting! I happen to be a Pelican customer, and I recently received a call from a classic car dealer who “bought customer data” and offered to buy my Porsche.
      Yay, customer data is not safe what so ever

      ECS has been really trying to get into the Porsche market but because most of us prefer good customer service and supporting local business run by fellow enthusiasts it was a up hill battle for them, easier to buy the name of Pelican which had that community support.
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      07-02-2018 11:10 AM #13
      So Turner and Pelican will start selling energy drinks?
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    15. Member Car Problems's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 11:14 AM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.0T_Convert View Post
      Valid criticism of a greedy company or an angry ex-employee upset he wasn't valuable enough to be part of the path forward?

      I'm sure any discussion will be from the rose colored glasses of "did my ECS order arrive on time and/or break?"
      Did you not read the story, he was offered a position and turned it down. ECS isnt the company it used to be because its all about the numbers now to satisfy the overloards.

      Also how long will this thread survive since ECS is a sponsor of this site?
      Last edited by Car Problems; 07-02-2018 at 11:19 AM.

    16. Senior Member dubdaze68's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 11:18 AM #15
      Yeah, ECS used to be fairly reliable, until they started to force the enthusiasts out, and stopped service and local pickup. Then, it just became a drone service with frequent, long out-of-stock and backordered parts (even though they show being in stock), second rate parts, terrible customer service, and frequent wrong shipped parts.
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    17. Member madrussian's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 11:20 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Car Problems View Post
      Also how long will this thread survive since ECS is a sponsor of this site?
      To be honest, I expected to see it deleted shortly after posting...

      I too wonder if the forces that be will actually allow this to stay up or take it down.

    18. Member TheDeckMan's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 11:32 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by madrussian View Post
      To be honest, I expected to see it deleted shortly after posting...

      I too wonder if the forces that be will actually allow this to stay up or take it down.
      Just like the old EIP days.
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    19. Senior Member 2.0T_Convert's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 11:33 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Car Problems View Post
      Did you not read the story, he was offered a position and turned it down. ECS isnt the company it used to be because its all about the numbers now to satisfy the overloards.

      Also how long will this thread survive since ECS is a sponsor of this site?
      Not sure I believe his story.

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      07-02-2018 11:51 AM #19
      Part of the group that was originally posted in. Not surprising at all.

      I used to order exclusively from ECS but they have just become worse and worse over the years. Recently purchased a GSW and gave them a try again, after one mirror being shipped with no packaging totally free in a box (arrived broken, also two mirrors were ordered) then them sending the replacement mirrors in the same packaging and those arriving broken -- I've learned my lesson now.
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      This place is going to hell on a Thule roof rack.

    21. Member madrussian's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 12:01 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.0T_Convert View Post
      Not sure I believe his story.
      Want to expand on why you dont? Not saying I do either, but just curious why.

    22. Member 3WheelGTi's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 12:02 PM #21
      Classify me as “not surprised” by this article. Tom and his team had worked on my MK2 GTI back in the day when it was still Euro Car Service. Their father was still around back then. Pretty good group.

      Today I will only buy from them if I am not in a hurry, their logistics are laughable. Returns and commmuncation are horrendous as well. All in all, good front end, terrible back end.

      Articles like this make me miss German Auto Parts. Loved those guys.

    23. Senior Member UncleJB's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 12:10 PM #22
      I don't know - I have still been ordering from ECS pretty regularly and have had no issues with lead time. The only recent purchase that was slightly delayed was a set of OEM Aristos for my 20th. The ship date was later than projected. But someone at ECS called me and let me know and their second proposed date was later than the wheels actually shipped.

      As far as small businesses being bought by corporate entities, I have been through it and quit to work for another company shortly after the changes started rolling in. The deal is never what they say it will be from what I can tell.

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      07-02-2018 12:22 PM #23
      Sounds about right. Blue tinted aspherical mirrors for my Mk7 GTI lasted 10 months before they started failing. ECS was a nightmare to deal with on returning them-never sent me a call tag despite at least 10 contacts. I gave up and stopped buying from them.

      Sad to hear this is the fate of both Turner and Pelican.

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      07-02-2018 12:37 PM #24
      Not the first and not the last time private equity firms ruin a once great company.

    26. I had to ask.... Turbo II's Avatar
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      07-02-2018 12:43 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by Car Problems View Post
      Did you not read the story, he was offered a position and turned it down. ECS isnt the company it used to be because its all about the numbers now to satisfy the overloards.

      Also how long will this thread survive since ECS is a sponsor of this site?
      I hope I won't be banned for what I'll say, but topics like these shouldn't be moderated/deleted. Being a sponsor is one thing, but deleting and moderating topics like these leads to propaganda so that only good things are heard about it. And this is not how it works, people should be able to see good and bad and form their own opinion. So truthfuly if this topic will be deleted then it will be a sign of things.

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