We were lucky to catch up with Austin Peterson recently and have shared our conversation below.
Austin, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Do you have any advice regarding quality control and maintaining quality as your brand grows?
Quality control is probably the most important factor linked to success this industry. Our clients come to us with a very specific set of goals and expectations for the project we undertake together. Our goal is to maximize the potential build within the constraints of budget, time, and availability of materials. Things change rapidly in today’s market and having an open and ongoing conversation with our clients has been foundational to the way we do business, and our overall success. We always take the time to thoroughly test our projects for everything from comfort to reliability, down to the smallest detail, and we repeat those tests again and again to ensure the highest quality product leaves our shop.
Maintaining quality as the company has grown presents its own set of challenges. When a shop is still small in size, it is easier to “micro-manage” every aspect of production as there are fewer things to keep track of day to day. The key to our scaling process has been simple, hire the best possible people to perform each business function. Trust is the largest component of the process. Having a management team that produces results is impossible without competent and talented techs, fabricators, and assistants. We are all a part of a larger picture, and a family at the end of the day. We experience setbacks and success as a team and learn from each. Hiring the right people to carry out the right function is pivotal to success in any industry, and when you simply don’t have time to “micro-manage”, you need a team from top to bottom that you can trust to do the best job possible even when nobody is hovering over them.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
Learning the craft of business ownership is really a story about finding what ignites something inside of you, something you feel compelled to pursue despite any number of inevitable setbacks or obstacles. There is no guarantee that the passion you feel will speak to others the way it speaks to you, but learning your craft is all about trying and failing, and having the fortitude to get back up and try something new or think outside of the box.
The skills I’ve found most essential go back to my childhood, working in my family’s shop, building things with my own hands. I learned then that a skilled craftsman spends years mastering every detail of their work and places quality far above quantity. The attention to detail and love for expert craftsmanshipI has stayed with me through the years and has become the core of the way I do business.
When I first founded this company I knew the enormous odds I was up against. I saw American manufacturing slowly decay during my childhood and it took me leaving the U.S. entirely after college to find what ignited my passion. I moved to Columbia and started finding Land Cruisers, restoring them, and importing them to America. Then I made a decision I knew would be an enormous undertaking and change my life. I moved manufacturing back home to Dallas, TX.
Moving production to America created a huge obstacle, including higher costs, and competition with extremely deep pockets. Like most businesses, I started small, in a one-room garage in the back of my parents’ house. I was thrilled to be working for myself, doing something I was passionate about. I spent thousands of hours testing components and modernizing a vehicle that was designed more than 50 years prior, a gigantic obstacle unto itself. The end result has become the perfect marriage of classic reliability and modern comfort, with quality unmatched in the industry. My passion is building the most unique trucks in the world, crafted to the highest possible quality.
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
Building our audience on social media has been quite a learning experience. It’s a task that takes dedication and an open mind above all else. Trends and habits on social media platforms change quickly and without notice, so if you’re not constantly active and open minded, you absolutely will get left behind. Once you notice an uptick in followers and engagement, it becomes more and more vital to engage with the people that are supporting your content. There are so many wonderful and kind people interested in our industry that it is truly a joy to engage with them and develop meaningful friendships. We have a community of people that love to share stories, photos, and videos, and the nature of “Overlanding” itself organically creates new friendships.
My advice to those just starting out is to not overthink what you are sharing with your community. Approaching your posts from an honest and open place naturally draws people in to what you are sharing. People can sense when you are “trying too hard” and it tends to come off as disingenuous. If you love the content you are creating or sharing, and doing it regularly with a dedicated attitude, it’s only a matter of time before people start to take notice and regularly return to your content.
We’d love to hear about how you keep in touch with clients.
We treat each of our customers like a part of our family. Our process is very personal and tailored to the individual across the table from us, even before any work has been done. Through the various consultations and meetings, we build a natural relationship with each of our clients that strengthens over time. These projects don’t happen overnight, so there are many opportunities to get to know the people that we do business with quite personally. We enjoy sharing photos and videos of our builds with our clients and help them to form a picture of what has been going on when they aren’t able to see it themselves and in person. It’s so exciting to share pieces of each project with the client and watch it all come together from car parts and shells to a working, living piece of machinery. We encourage all of our previous clients to share their own experiences once they leave the shop and they are kind enough to include us in the memories they have made with something we built. It makes us feel like a part of their future and we are honored that they allow us to be a part of it.
- Website: https://blackdogtraders.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackdogtraders/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlackDogTraders
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/blackdogtraders