ONTARIO - What started out as project to restore his wife's 1966 Mustang Fastback led to a new business venture for Ray Harrington.
In 1976, Harrington, owner of Harrington Mold, started out restoring the classic car. He realized the restoration parts available just weren't to his standards. It was the catalyst for starting California Pony Cars, said Michael Satterfield, director of marketing for California Pony Cars Inc.
Now, the company specializes on 500 restoration parts for the Mustang, everything from making a 1966 Mustang outside rearview mirror to a 1965 Mustang gas cap. What makes the products stand out from the rest of the restoration industry is that they are licensed by Ford Motor Co. and have also received the approval of many Ford Mustang Clubs locally and nationally, he said.
"It all comes down to detail. Ray's products are super detailed," Satterfield said.
That attention to detail is why the company has had less than a 2 percent return rate on all its products, Satterfield said.
Currently, 95 percent of the products for both Harrington Mold and California Pony Cars are made in the 17,000-square-foot facility in south Ontario.
The facility sells the restoration products in more than 450 stores in the United States and to 50 stores internationally, Satterfield said. The company generates about $2 million in annual sales and is projecting to end this year at around $2.2 million in sales.
While the economic slowdown has affected sales, there is still room for growth in the next couple of years.
Satterfield attributes that to the popularity of the classic Mustang.
"It is always going to be an icon. The 1960s Ford Mustang redefined the midsize car," he said.
Because of that, people young or old are fascinated with restoring the classic Mustang, Satterfield said.
Recently, the company expanded its operations to include two factory rooms. One is reserved for moldmaking, and the other is where pieces are assembled, packaged and store.
The company also launched Nxt Generation, which focuses on providing customized parts for the 2005 Ford Mustang GT.
The goal is to have the company expand nationally and locally in the near future, but for now, the company is setting its eyes on 2010, Satterfield said.
In March, Ford will be releasing a redesign of its Ford Mustang, and Satterfield said the design staff has been busy making customized parts for that model.
"Diversification has truly been the key to our past success, and we believe it is the key to California Pony Car's future," owner Harrington said.