Everyone is a customer at one point, for better or worse, but everyone is a customer. This holds true for dealers and vendors, because at some point they were customers just like you. For me it was a long string of events that all happen to lead me down the path of life. This path began on an internet forum, I saw an advertisement for a Cobalt SS for $239 a month for a lease, and thought that would be way better than the 97 Monte that I was using a daily driver. So I went to look at the local dealership and was greeted with closed doors because it was a Sunday. So there would be no test drive that Sunday. So I looked at the car with my wife Kim, she liked it, she even liked the 'goofy spoiler' that it had, but since the dealership was closed we left.
Around the corner from that dealership was another dealer, this one a Cadillac Pontiac GMC dealer. This dealer had a 2004 GTO out front, it was used, but it was the right color (Black) so I figured, what the hell, the dealer is closed, let's take a peak it can't hurt, and she agreed (my wife is great, more on that later). While we were looking at the GTO, someone walked up to where we were and introduced himself to us. Apparently this dealership wasn't closed, and the gentleman that walked up to us was David one of their salesmen. David asked if we wanted to take the car for a ride, and I said I'm not really looking to buy anything, especially since it's October, but if he had the time I'd like to sit in it. He went to get the keys and well'.I ordered and 05 GTO, Black, and a few days later I was driving in the GTO to the shop. This would in fact turn out to be one of the biggest moments of my life, though this wouldn't be evident for a while yet.
Fast Forward a few months, winter fading away and Drag Racing season coming fast. I had sold my 3rd Gen Camaro that I had for years, so I didn't have that to beat on anymore. So the GTO would be the daily driver and the drag car. I was happy, Kim was happy, life was grand (Happy wife, Happy Life). I set the date for the first test session of the year, and made the 1.5 hour trip Lebanon Valley Dragway. We got everything situated, and I entered the staging lanes for the first time in the GTO. I'd been there many times before, and knew what to expect, I thought. My first time at the Track in the GTO would change the course of my life as I knew it. For the first time at the track I didn't expect to be running low 13's like I'd seen in magazines, but I thought it would be close. I pulled up to the lights, staged and ready to launch. Both lights were lit, waiting for the tree. Holding the RPM's at 2500 foot on the clutch just before it would grab, waiting, waiting, GO! Well, I nearly crapped myself, the car had wheel hop so bad it was insane, I thought I'd broken something it was so bad, got through that and ran a horrible time through the traps. Every launch that night was the same story, no matter how I seemed to launch it wheel hop was a huge issue. Ran a best time of 13.9 that night, I spent over 30k on this, and it was slower than my Camaro that had 200k on it, and had nearly half the horsepower.
For the next few nights I was glued to my computer going through ls1gto.com looking for answers. There were lots of experts telling me what to buy, but very few people giving me answers. Lots of people with lists of parts to buy, but very few people asking me questions. This was the spring of 2006 and this JusticePete guy was one of the only people that was actually giving my info and asking me questions. Talking to him was very helpful because he made sense. I was a tech for nearly 10 years before I had to stop being a tech and moved to the front to run things, so I knew what I was doing when it came to working on cars, but I was a bit out of my element with the GTO. In the few conversations that I had with Pete he was helpful and informative, and when I decided that I wanted to buy some parts, he directed me to a list of a couple dealers that sold the parts I was looking for. At this point I still had no idea who this Justice Pete guy was, but I was happy he was helping. Well, after 2 weeks of trying to buy parts and not being able to get a dealer to call me back, respond to emails, or pm's I nearly gave up. I then contacted Pete again and this is when I discovered that he was the President of Pedders USA, this shocked me, as I've never dealt with a company that had this type of contact before. Pete then asked me to contact another dealer, and I was able to make the purchase finally. I had ordered rear springs, and rear shocks, and was very skeptical that this was a good idea, and didn't believe it would help my issues at all. I kept thinking to myself, if I told my customer that they needed to replace their shocks and spring at 5000 miles they would report me to the BBB and any other place that would listen. This would change, and change quickly.
My first time back at the track since my last debacle, and I was tentatively excited. Got in to the staging lanes, pulled up to the tree, staged, ready to go. Lights went green, I launched expecting the worst, and wouldn't you know it, my wheel hop was nearly gone. I ran through the traps nearly 10mph faster than last time, and 1 full second faster. Nothing had changed other than the shocks and springs, and I was sold on PEDDERS. Ran a few more times that night, for a fast time of 12.7 @ 108mph. 12.7 with a stock GTO, with Headers, Shocks, and Springs.
That night on the way home I was trying to figure out how I would convince Kim that I needed to spend another $2000 on the car we had just bought. So I did what any other red blooded American man would do, I didn't tell her. After upgrading the GTO to a full Pedders Track 2 kit the car was completely changed. By this time I had about 15000 miles on it, and the front tires had already been destroyed due to the weaknesses in the stock suspension. The car felt so much better I couldn't believe that it was the same car, I felt lighter, it felt like it should. This is how the car should have been from the factory, but we all know that wouldn't happen.
This is when a small bulb went on over my head. I thought, if these parts can do this for me, then I want to be involved with Pedders. I went back and forth with Pete about becoming a dealer and after a very involved application process to be one of the first dealers in the country. I was well versed in performance parts, or at least I thought I was. I would quickly learn that what had been accepted in the aftermarket community was not accepted at Pedders. They did things like I did things, They did them right the first time, period.
In December of 2006 we did our first GTO at the shop. His name was Ryland, he was an Iraq vet and was disabled, thus required a wheel chair. Ryland was not your average guy in a wheel chair, and his GTO was going to benefit from this over the next couple years, but for now, Pedders was going on his car. He had plans for it, and the Suspension was tops on his list. He had been learning just as I had the year before, and he had seen the same things I had seen, Pedders cars being the fastest at the Drag Strip, and Road Courses. Ryland's car soon after has twin turbo's and many other goodies, but before anything else, he had Pedders. Well, actually the hand controls were first, but next after that was Pedders.
Next job was to fix the troubles that I had when I had first tried ordering parts. Soon after is when Wretched Motorsports came to life, as the Internet Based store for our Pedders Parts. It was my goal to be the best place on the internet to buy Pedders parts, and be the best place to bring your car to have Pedders installed through the Expert Tire/Firestone store that I had run since 2005. It didn't take long to be one of the dominant Pedders dealers in the USA, and we've been working very hard to continue this ever since.
In October 2007 Kim and I decided that we needed to upgrade her daily driver, (the same 97 Monte that I replaced with the GTO). At this point I knew that we would get a G8, just that she didn't know that yet, but I was confident that she would see my vast experience was correct and that she should get the G8. Well, that went to hell quickly. We test drove the G8, and she really liked the car, it wasn't perfect for what she wanted, but it was very good. She said she wanted a little more power, and a bit more 'goodies'. On the way back to the dealer from the test drive, I had her convinced that we could fix the goodies, and the power wasn't an issue. She was sold, and ready to get the G8'.Until we pulled in to the dealer and she happen to park next to a Black Charger SRT8'.. One week later she was driving a Black Charger SRT8. (Did I mention that my wife rocks!) Her first questions....When do I get my suspension, and can we make it louder?'
After driving it for a bit we upgraded the suspension on the SRT8, the change was much bigger than the change on the GTO it was ridiculous. In skid pad testing her car was pulling consistent .99g on OE Street tires, in a 4200lb sedan. Just for reference, the Ferrari Enzo was tested at 1.01 in a popular magazine. The only bad part of that, was that the GTO pulled .97g, and Kim was very sure that I was aware of the fact that her Charger was .02g better. Gotta love her!
2008 and 2009 were very busy years for us and we grew quickly. We attended many events and even got Kim out on the Road Course in her Charger. 2010-2011 posed many hurdles and challenges personally, and professionally, we dealt with things as best we could. Pedders stood behind us every part of the way, and at times even got in front. Not many companies out there are as stand up of a company as Pedders is, and as the future unfolds I'm confident that you will see this also. 2012 was a new year, and many of the hurdles that we have had over the past few years were now behind us, we will not forget them, and we will grow from them (R.I.P. Dad 2/25/11).
In June 2011 I left my position with Bridgestone/Firestone (Expert Tire) after 18 years with the company, and have made the move to Wretched Motorsports full time.
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