Thursday, August 21, 2008

Daisuke Kuwayama of Garson/D.A.D.

After the successful debut of Garson/D.A.D’s crystal-encrusted Mercedes-Benz SL 600 at last year’s SEMA show, DUB made the trek to Osaka, Japan to get the behind-the-scenes look at the man behind the crystals, Daisuke Kuwayama, one of the pioneers of crystal-decorated auto parts, and find out more about his “bling’d-out” masterpiece.Mr. Kuwayama’s real life reads something like a classic rags to riches story. He became involved in the automotive business as a part-time tire deliveryman, wrench and importer. His part-time jobs soon allowed him to save up enough cash to open his own tire shop, Tire House Cactus. Shortly after the tire store, Kuwayama began catering to a new market of Japanese luxury sedans. At that time, all the Japanese shops were specializing in making cars faster, and he noticed how people wanted to luxuriously modify their cars. Of course, with any new trend, parts for such modifications were very scarce or non-existent.
Taking a chance, Kuwayama put his money into manufacturing products for the luxury market under the name Cactus Corporation Garson Division. The Garson line of products has always been innovative with such creations as wheels with 8-inch outer lips, adding textures and patterns you would not normally see in automobiles, and producing body kits for luxury cars. His efforts paid off, but like any craze, the hype got lost and Garson started looking for the next big thing. Following in the footsteps of successful companies like Toyota, Honda and Nissan, a couple of years ago, Garson branched off to another line of products under the name D.A.D, which is considered more high-end than the Garson lineup.

Now living off the fruits of his labors, Kuwayama sits on top of a multi-million dollar company, still has his retail tire shop and lives in a multi-million-dollar eight-bedroom home with a stable of 60 demo cars to choose from. Kuwayama has achieved what many Americans would consider “baller” status.

DUB: How long have you been in business?
Kuwayama: I opened Tire House Cactus in 1995, then opened Cactus Corporation Garson Division in 1997 and D.A.D. in 2001. So, I guess around 12 years now.
DUB: What’s up with the crystals on the Mercedes-Benz SL?
Kuwayama: Garson / D.A.D. wanted to do something to a Benz that no one has ever done before. Plus, we wanted to leave an unforgettable imprint in people’s minds when they see our car, and to promote our line of crystal car parts.
DUB: Could you explain the concept behind Garson / D.A.D.?
Kuwayama: At Garson / D.A.D. we try to make cruising in what we consider “asphalt jungles” a magical time with your significant other. When lovers get into a D.A.D. car, we try to make them feel like they’re movie stars, and if you haven’t noticed, our brand is geared to both men and women.
DUB: What was it like when you were trying to build the company, and where do you see Garson / D.A.D five years from now?
Kuwayama: When I set up the Garson brand, I was pretty much focused on only exterior parts like body kits, mufflers and wheels. It’s a pretty satisfying feeling driving a flashy car, but I realized that exterior looks was not enough. It’s kind of like a human being–you need the whole package. So about six years ago, I also included interior modifications because I realized that’s where car owners spend most of their time. I started introducing different types of textures and fabrics into automotive interiors. My goal was to bring something new to vehicles, something that has never been done before. My target for five years from now is to make my brand famous, not only in Japan, but also worldwide. My dream is that Garson will supply lovely memories between people and their cars that normal vehicles could never do.
DUB: How did you become the president of a multi-million dollar company?
Kuwayama: I started the company from scratch. I love this job; I really get off on seeing my customers smile, and my dream is to continue this job until my last breath. Another motivation is my staff–seeing them enjoy their work is very gratifying.
DUB: What was your first car?
Kuwayama: When I was a student, I didn’t have any money. I had just enough money to get my driver’s license, but I was determined to get a car. A friend of mine owned a Chinese restaurant, and they were selling their delivery car. I went to check it out; it was a piece of crap–no carpet, no air conditioning or stereo. It had dirty chopsticks and toothpicks all over the place. Nevertheless, I was determined to get a car, so I bought it for under $500. I went home, cleaned it up, put in a portable boom box and bought some used wheels and a used steering wheel from a second hand store. Feeling pretty happy, I cruised over to my girl’s house and her only comment was “Is this car a trash box?” Crushed, I went home and started working, and bought a used Toyota Soarer (Lexus SC in the U.S.). I enjoyed driving that car, and got a lot attention from cute girls when I drove in it. Right now, my personal car is a Mercedes-Benz CL, but my best memories are from that used Toyota Soarer. My past experiences motivated me to develop the Garson / D.A.D. products today. I want my customers to experience the wonderful memories, like the ones that used Toyota Soarer brought me.
DUB: What kind of car would you buy today?
Kuwayama: I would buy a used Toyota Soarer, like the one I used to have. Those cars are pretty rare, so it’s very difficult to pick one up. Yup, I would fix it up like the old days and garage it.
DUB: What is your favorite car in your collection?
Kuwayama: Our crystal Mercedes-Benz SL. It has won numerous awards, but I can’t really say that is my favorite. I really can’t pick a favorite. We build demo cars to make unforgettable experiences for Garson / D.A.D. customers who come and visit us at shows.
DUB: Is there any new or innovating products coming from Garson / D.A.D. in the near future?
Kuwayama: We are working on a completely new lineup for the new Lexus LS. It’s taking us a little longer to develop our parts for this car, since we are very particular about product quality coming from Garson / D.A.D. Our LS lineup will be ready in the summer of 2007.
DUB: Could anyone in the U.S. purchase any Garson / D.A.D products?
Kuwayama: We will officially begin selling our products in the U.S. starting in June. For more information, please refer to Garson / D.A.D. can crystallize your vehicles too. You can contact Garson for more information and prices depend on how many crystals they use or how intricate your design is. Oh yeah, you’ll have to ship your car to their facilities in Osaka, Japan to get the work done.
DUB: With 60 cars in your stable now, how many cars do you see your company owning in the future?
Kuwayama: I don’t know how many cars Garson will own. The reason we own these cars is not to boast about how many cars we have, but buy them for customer support. We use these demo cars as a tool for our quality control. It is our duty to hold on to these cars just in case a couple of years from now, we develop something new; we can always go back and fit-check it to any one of our demo cars.

DUB: Do you have any last words to the people in the U.S.?
Kuwayama: To be honest, I came to the 2002 SEMA show to sell my two-piece line of wheels. At that show, I felt the severity of the U.S. market, and realized my company was not ready to sell to the U.S. But since 2002, I had a dream to come back. I went back to Japan and regrouped my company, and in 2006, we felt we were ready to come back to the U.S. We brought the crystal SL and had a great response. It is impossible for me to express my gratitude to the people of America in words. Hopefully, I will be able to express my gratitude to everyone through my designs and products. My goal is to bring the American people great memories with their cars. We plan on bringing the crystal SL to this year’s SEMA show, and it will be displayed at the DUB shows later this year. If possible, please come by to see us. I am looking forward to having a chance to meet you!

Exclusive interview on the person who brought Garson to the world!!

"Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life."

So the secret open up a tire shop! Hehehe!

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