In conjunction with Gary Conway, Managing Director of GCAP Performance, Notting Hill, London, Iain Robertson shows how managing a successful specialist motoring business in a major city demands a keen eye for high quality and heaps of passion.
You can take it for granted that working from a mews garage in London provides the best of both worlds: location and class of customer. For Gary Conway and his highly specialised performance tuning business, it is like manna from heaven. Gary and his three colleagues service the sometimes querulous, always demanding, requirements of car-conscious enthusiasts in a rather well-to-do part of the city.
“In many respects,” Gary states, “we benefit from a lack of space. We only operate one ramp, which means that timing is a crucial aspect of our normal daily workload. However, pinnacle quality is the perpetual pursuit and none of us can run and hide from that key responsibility!”
Having won respect for his independent car tuning and rebuilds, in 2012, he took over the mews garage from his father’s ‘Air & Sound’ business, which had been a highly renowned vehicle audio centre, until the market demand waned. It would be the move that would become his high-end business.
“We had started in the more conventional, engineering-based field,” he explains, “which provided us with important tuning work on Vauxhall VXRs, hot Peugeots and Fords. However, without losing sight of those core skills, we have changed our focus in a fast-changing market that features Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches. It is now more important that we can read and alter electronic control units and management systems, because of the way the motor industry has changed.”
Fortunately, GCAP Performance offers extensive knowledge of the oily bits, as well as the cleaner electronics and, with such a broad, car appreciating customer base in Notting Hill, Gary does his utmost to appeal to its vanity, as well as extolling the passions of the tuned car scene. As a result, he has cornered his local market, which demands the highest quality of finished product and scarcely needs to venture away from it, although ‘word of mouth’ provides some tantalising extra work at times.
“We are highly conscious of maintaining a high-quality image,” Gary adds, “and there exists a pleasant gentility about working from a London mews location, which can seem at odds with our work at times. As much as we love the mechanical aspects, we are aware that our business’s bread and butter comes from the latest technology. Therefore, we are reading up constantly on new electronic developments and building solid relationships with high-end suppliers.”
Whether fitting a tuned Milltek exhaust system to a 5-Series V8 BMW, or Bilstein dampers to a Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG, the company’s diary seldom has available slots to play with. “The lack of space extends to a lack of parking for customers’ cars,” he highlights, “but that works better for us, because we always need to be job efficient. We will never rush the work, because maintaining only the highest reputation keeps us busy, but daily planning is also essential to that outlook.”
At just 31 years of age, Gary could be said to have an old head on young shoulders (“I am a fan of ‘Old Skool’ garages, where working well and correctly won business success!”) but he is young enough to adapt to change, while possessing an innate strength of purpose and knowing his business inside out. I shall leave Gary with the last words that are so appropriate for a Notting Hill-based garage, “High-quality means everything to me and my colleagues and, specialised business, or not, we know how to make quality count…that doesn’t sound too twee, does it?”