Garden Grove, California
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Original equipment (OE) and aftermarket wheels
President Bruce Higginson is steering the wheels manufacturer to dominance in off-road racing and the automotive aftermarket.
In the 1970s, a family-owned business began supplying stamped steel wheels to American Racing Wheels and Cragar Wheels, two icons for custom car enthusiasts. "Over time, the company transformed into Allied Wheel," says Higginson.
Sales skyrocketed when Allied started making wheels for a name-brand client. "By 1998, we began providing steel wheels for Polaris, manufacturing as many as 50,000 wheels monthly," he says. "In 2001, the company continued to grow, and developed the Raceline Wheels brand to handle the growing custom wheel market for trucks and cars."
Allied followed the trends, then improved on them. "Billet wheels where all the rage at that time and the Raceline brand grew to keep up with the demand," says Higginson. "Meanwhile, we still had the steel wheel business and began making circle track racing wheels, because racers were having problems with their beadlock wheels. The bolts that secure the outer beadlock ring to the wheel were stripping out, so we developed our own beadlock technology that had distinct advantages over the competition."
With the increased involvement in racing, Higginson says the company's crew began to learn the weak points of the wheels and added or removed materials to make them as light and as strong as possible. This lead to the Raceline Wheel brand to grow from the circle track racing scene and extend into hardcore off-road racing. The company now manufactures wheels utilizing its beadlock technology into aluminum wheels that are currently used by Trophy Truck and UTV racers in a variety of classes.
"The off-road racing and UTV market surged, and the company grew with it," says Higginson. "Because we made wheels for Polaris, we could take what we knew in beadlock technology and make a better product for Jeep owners, as well as off-road racers. We now leverage those designs to create aftermarket wheels that are functional for the everyday driver too. That a guy can also use them on his truck for his commute to work, or when playing off-road on the weekends."
Manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing all take place at Allied's Garden Grove facility. "All of our aftermarket and steel wheels are made here," says Higginson. "From our CNC equipment to our billet wheel program, they're all designed, machined, and assembled here. We have teams of aluminum welders and people operating mill lathes, and all the engineering is all done in-house. All cast wheels are manufactured elsewhere due to costs, but they are all designed here."
The company's Raceline brand has continued to grow and the company sees it gaining additional market share by sponsoring several racers and as the official wheel of SCORE International, the racing organization that puts on the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 off-road races.
Challenges: According to Higginson, there's a lot of competition in the wheel industry from overseas manufacturing. Allied continually tries to be first to market before their designs are copied and distributed at a lower cost. "Our wheels are stronger, lighter and more reliable than the competition," he says. "We're just trying to stay one step ahead, and let everyone know the differences are in the brand, especially when they see racers winning with our wheels on race day."
Opportunities: "Working with SCORE International is giving our off-road wheels additional credibility," says Higginson. "It showcases that our product can withstand the extreme conditions of Baja racing that translates into our street wheels. That same passion goes into what we're wanting to build now. In addition, the UTV [utility task vehicle] market is growing and is an avenue the company sees it can take to improve its brand and overall sales. We feel we're ahead of the curve working with several UTV brands."
Needs: "We're wanting to get more involved with racers to showcase the company's product and to build additional branding for our line of wheels," says Higginson. "We know that this translates into the aftermarket, where Jeep, truck, and custom car owners want the same designs and reliability that we make in our racing wheels."