STILLEN: The Innovative Powerhouse
This month we got “up close and personal” with STILLEN to give our customers the 101 on this Seibon Carbon dealer powerhouse.
It is with the support of our dealers and customers that Seibon Carbon celebrated its 10 year anniversary last year and today continues to develop and offer top-quality, performance oriented carbon fiber automotive components.
1. In your opinion, what is the best car movie of all time and why?
There are a lot of great car movies. Bullitt, Gone in Sixty Seconds and of course Classics like Le Mans and Grand Prix are amazing simply because they used real cars and real drivers on real tracks. Movies like Fast and the Furious helped introduce many people to the world of high performance and/or modified vehicles for the first time. In my opinion (written by Kyle Millen) the best car movie of all time would have to be SENNA.
2. How did Stillen come about? Why did you decide to open up a shop?
We often say that STILLEN is a company born out of frustration. In the early ‘80s Steve Millen (company founder and CEO) was racing professionally and was involved in an accident that left him sidelined with a broken leg. Realizing that he wouldn’t be able to race forever Steve decided to take his experience and knowledge and develop products for street vehicles. At the time he was racing for Toyota in the Mickey Thompson off-road series so he actually started by designing and manufacturing body kits for mini trucks. In 1990 he got the opportunity to race for Nissan as their lead factory driver. This opened the opportunity for STILLEN to move into the sport compact import tuning market. With the close relationship with NISSAN Steve started looking at the 300ZX and began developing high performance parts that would take these cars to higher levels of performance. After a few years of having other companies manufacture our products Steve became frustrated with products not meeting his standards of quality, performance, availability, etc. In the mid-90’s Steve decided to invest in an in-house research and development department as well as a machine shop and fabrication shop. Now we are able to perform all of our own in-house manufacturing from our supercharger kits and big brake kits to our sway bars, exhaust systems and cold air intakes.
STILLEN not only manufactures our own products but we carry the products made by other companies that we believe in and companies we feel believe in the same level of quality and performance.
3. Who is Stillen? Tell us about your shop and what type of model(s) you specialize in.
STILLEN is a very complicated company. We manufacture our own products, we have a full service installation facility, we have our own in-house engineering and R&D as well as installation and service center. We are also the North American distributor for AP Racing brakes, the leading brake components manufacturer. STILLEN specializes in the import tuner/sport compact market including Nissan/Infiniti, Hyundai/Kia, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Scion.
4. What brands/products does Stillen carry?
STILLEN carries everything from performance parts to vehicle maintenance and car care. Our warehouses are always stocked with products from our 200+ vendor partners; Injen, Eibach, KW, AEM, ACT, EXEDY, Hawk performance, Tein, Husky liner and Weathertech, just to name a few. Of course our premium carbon fiber manufacturer is Seibon!
5. Stillen has an extensive racing background, tell us more about it.
Our company founder Steve Millen still holds quite a few records in the IMSA sports car series including; most pole positions and most wins. Steve raced professionally from 1980-1995 before retiring after a career ending injury at Road Atlanta. Steve won two world championships in the IMSA sports car series along with overall and class wins at the 24 hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring, and 24 hours of Le Mans. While Steve is most recognized for his success in the IMSA sports car series he has won races and championships in many disciplines of motor racing including; Mickey Thompson offroad series (two championships and dozens of race wins), Rally racing in North America and New Zealand. During Steve’s early career he won the first ever Indy Lights race at Phoenix international raceway. A feat made even more impressive considering it was his first time ever driving on an oval race course. Steve is also one of the few professional drivers who can say that he has never lost a race in the rain.
6. Where do you see Stillen in 10 years?
Recently we have embarked on a new direction for STILLEN. We are well known for our expertise in tuning and modifying Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. However we aren’t as well known for our work on Subaru’s, Scion’s, Mitsubishi’s, and other high performance enthusiast cars. As a manufacturer of high performance parts ourselves, we do know the ins and outs of developing and manufacturing these parts. Which means when we perform the installations of other manufacturer’s products we are able to take our experiences and adapt them to other vehicles and products.
7. What do you think is necessary, as a business, to be successful in the aftermarket industry?
The most important thing in this industry is honesty, integrity, and determination. It is our goal to develop the most well rounded products and relationships, both with our customers and vendor partners.
8. What is your idea of great customer service?
Customer service starts from the initial phone call to the follow up after the customer has had the new parts installed and been able to enjoy them for years to come. Many of our products and the products made by our vendor partners carry lifetime warranties that we and they are proud to stand by.
9. What is your most memorable customer experience?
It’s tough to pick just one. Hearing from customers is always exciting for us. We’ve heard from customers who purchased from us 10 years ago and they drop a note on our Facebook page just to let us know they’re still enjoying their products and still enjoying their car. We’ve had customers who have had us build them extreme cars that we see regularly and they are always smiling. It always means a lot to us when we hear back from our customers, especially when we receive their family Christmas cards!
10. If you can make one thing out of carbon fiber, what would it be?
Supercharger charge pipe.
Visit Stillen’s website: www.stillen.com