If you own a car and you’re on this website, chances are, you’ve thought of changing the set of wheels on your car. Whether its JDM, EDM, or USDM, a fresh set of wheels can be just the thing to make your ride different from the herd. Unfortunately springing for a brand new set of wheels can become very costly, especially if they are a multi-piece wheel. A better move may be to buy a used set of wheels and have them refinished and rebuilt. This is where Threepiece.us comes in.
Threepiece has been around for a few years now and they specialize in selling, importing, refinishing, repairing and rebuilding wheels. Carshype made our way over to their facility a few weeks ago in order to drop off a set of wheels to be rebuilt, and while we were there, we picked the brain of Jake, the owner. We’ve actually been following Threepiece.us since they first started, it has been awesome to watch them expand in the short time that they did. We hope that this interview will shed some light on a relatively new company to the scene!
Hey Jake thanks for taking the time and letting us pick you brain as well as opening the doors to your warehouse. Mind telling us a little about yourself?
I’m 22 years old, originally from the bay area but I’ve moved around my whole life, currently I live in Upland CA. I drive a few cars. The two that see the most use are a 2008 Suburban on Work LS207s and a Greddy TT 350Z on Work Brombachers.
If I recall, you didn’t always have a warehouse and staff. I believe you started out small; much like Jeff Bezos selling books out of his garage. Can you tell me what inspired you to start selling used wheels and what else you were doing in life at that time?
I did indeed start small as I think most automotive businesses do by nature. This really began as a hobby, I had previously worked at a shop and bought/sold some wheels on craigslist on the side to make a little cash. I found a connection to bring parts over from Japan and started buying a few sets at a time. I was a junior in college when I started the business so time was at a premium but I quickly learned that this was what I wanted to devote my time to and started spending every free minute I had trying to build and expand the business.
At what point did you realize that this was something you wanted to primarily do and that you needed to expand?
About 8 months in I had gone from airmailing wheels over on a by-order basis to stocking around 15 sets at a time. It was at that point I realized that the only way to really grow was to begin importing full containers. I rented my first shop space after that and the rest was just steady progression.
How challenging was it to go from your small solo operation, to having a warehouse and workers?
I didn’t go to business school so a lot of things that I think would’ve been simple for someone with training in management I had to learn the hard way. The biggest challenge for us really lies in organization. Lots of different parts come in and out on a daily basis and keeping track of where they are and how many we have presents a challenge.
What has been some of the biggest hurdles being the “new kid on the block” as far as wheel refinishing goes? Is it friendly competition or more of a cutthroat and undercutting nature?
Its a really friendly industry overall. Margins aren’t as high as most people would imagine so generally speaking people try not to undercut one another too deeply. Most shops work together in some capacity, sourcing parts from each other when inventory is low and maintaining a good rapport. Ultimately all of the wheels come from a few different places in Japan and the lips/barrels are made by one of two suppliers so its very tightly knit.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of threepiece.us?
Without a doubt the people I have met. Through this business I’ve talked to thousands of people all around the world who share a common passion for cars. I wouldn’t trade my colleagues and customers for the world!
Many of the people in the car scene are in college or about to be. As a recent college grad who started his own business, how helpful was your college degree/the knowledge you gained from school?
I graduated with a degree in Studio Art, so obviously my degree didn’t correlate as directly to my business as something like a business or econ degree would’ve. The most useful parts of college for me were really the problem solving skills I gained and the networking I did.
You recently started your own line of wheels! Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Absolutely! The line is called Heritage Wheel (shameless plug www.heritagewheel.com). The short of it is that we have taken vintage designs that are no longer manufactured and reimagined them using modern engineering and manufacturing technologies to offer them in a wider variety of sizes and fitments than were originally available. The goal was to provide an affordable alternative to rebuilding vintage wheels for a customer that wants a specific style but is limited by the sizing it was originally manufactured in.
As a purveyor of real 3 piece wheels, what are your thoughts on replica wheels?
I see pros and cons to them really. Anything that gets people into the automotive hobby is positive, and most everyone who purchases a set of replica wheels eventually steps up to the real thing. I think the biggest downside to them is that they’ve contributed to this whole instant gratification phenomenon that plagues our society in the sense that its very tempting for newer enthusiasts to buy up a set for $500 so they can “be cool” as opposed to working and saving for something better. They definitely have their place but I would personally never run them on my vehicles.
Where do you see the future of threepiece.us heading?
The goal is really to continue doing what we’re doing now but with quicker turnaround times and lower costs which we can then pass on to our customers to provide a better customer experience.
Do you have anything else that you would like to tell our readers?
I think you’ve summed up everything I wanted to touch on with your questions! Thank you for taking the time to come down and check our facility out. Would like to give some quick thank yous to everyone who has supported the business along the way by purchasing parts or sending referrals our way!
We really appreciate Jake taking the time to show us around and answer our questions. If you like what you learned about Threepiece.us…
Check out their inventory!