In 2006, Matt and Brian Verhalen started The Seat Shop out of Matt’s garage & spare bedroom in Frisco, TX (a suburb of Dallas). With $1,000 earned from the sale of personal items on eBay, the brothers took their earnings and began to buy, recondition, and sell 3rd row seats on eBay. After out-growing Matt’s garage and two of the largest storage units they could find, they moved into their first office/warehouse space in 2007. The space was 1,400 sq. ft. and it was “huge” as described by the Verhalen brothers.
After settling into the new space, The Seat Shop began offering their Factory Match Leather Seat Cover product line on eBay along with the 3rd Row Seats. With the economy starting to slow, they found that more and more customers were deciding to “fix up” their existing trucks and SUV’s instead of buying new ones. The sales of Leather Seat Covers and 3rd Row Seats began to increase rapidly.
By the end of 2008, the brothers decided they were ready to expand their online presence and were poised for the increase in business. Through the help of Matthew Shipley and his team at Covalent Media Lab, www.theseatshop.com was born. Matt and Brian spent countless late nights and weekends filling the site with products, how-to videos, frequently asked questions, and more. Soon after the launch, customers began to purchase products from the site and their business began to grow faster than ever.
By the summer of 2009, the once “huge” office space began to feel more like a closet. It was time for a bigger office. So the moving trucks arrived, and they relocated to a 6,000 sq. ft. facility a few minutes away. Shortly after the move, Matt and Brian hired two new employees. First, they hired Matt’s wife Jill to be the company’s Controller. Jill got a crash course in selling their products and caught on very quickly. She developed new processes that saved the company countless amounts of time and money. Also joining the team as Operations Manager was Hunter Swindell. Hunter was thrown into the fire immediately and soon had the back of the house turned around and running smoothly. By the end of 2009 they had a great core team in place.
2010 was also a tremendous growth year for The Seat Shop. They expanded their web presence again by offering their Factory Match Leather Seat Covers on Amazon.com. They also invested in HD Video cameras and audio equipment to enhance their How-To Videos which have been a great tool for their customers. In November the team set their sights on Las Vegas and exhibited for the first time at the SEMA Show. The show was a great success and has provided some great exposure for our ever growing company.
In 2011, they hired a 5th member to their management team, Justin Horsley. Justin came in as the Warehouse Manager to help organize and manage the order fulfillment and 3rd Row Seat restoration process. He did an outstanding job and allowed The Seat Shop to realize record setting growth in 2011. Once again with Covalent Media Lab in their corner, The Seat Shop team was very excited when they launched their new website in late 2011. They quickly noticed the benefits of the new online presence.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, The Seat Shop continued to grow and expand their operation. With this expansion, they added Steven Trumbo to their team in early 2012. In short order, Steven learned the ropes, and settled into the critical role of order fulfillment. He was responsible for making sure that orders are sewn and shipped in a timely manner. Justin also shifted roles, and started focusing on wholesale accounts. He made thousands of contacts to upholstery shops around the nation, significantly increasing leather cover sales.
The Seat Shop also returned to exhibit at the SEMA show in both 2012 and 2013. With Justin’s contacts, the shows have been increasingly successful. The Seat Shop also benefited in 2012 and 2013 with the development of DuroFoam and “The Guardian.” DuroFoam cushions are factory match replacement foam cushions for Ford and GM trucks and SUV’s. The Seat Shop is constantly releasing Durofoam cushions for new vehicles. “The Guardian” is a 3rd row seat lock for GM full size SUV’s. Third row seats have become a very popular target for thieves, since they are easily removable and very expensive to replace. “The Guardian” made it virtually impossible for thieves to nab the seats. By late 2013, The Seat Shop had outgrown their 6,000 square foot operation, and started searching for a bigger space.
By the beginning of 2014, The Seat Shop had settled on a new location. Almost tripling their space to 17,000 sq ft, they moved their operation 30 miles northwest from Carrollton to Allen, TX. Towards the end of 2014 they saw the need to grow the E-commerce and Social Media side of the business. After a long search they brought on Garrett Bishop all the way from Ft. Myers, Florida to run that department. Garrett’s knowledge has grown all aspects of ecommerce for The Seat Shop. He is responsible for branding within those channels and continues to do an amazing job. He is also behind the camera for all of The Seat Shop videos and photos.
2015 Held another record breaking year of growth and many changes to The Seat Shop. In May they decided to start cutting hides digitally, by bringing in the Gerber Taurus II cutting table. They were able to yield more material from each hide along with removing the human error of cutting by hand. This change had a huge impact on the company. In July, they grew again by hiring Andrew Hunt as the Director of Sales. Andrew has 10 plus years of sales and sales management under his belt and is also a high school friend of Matt and Brian. He oversees all aspects of sales such as retail, wholesale, and fleet. He’s an ALL IN employee that truly stands behind the company. The Seat Shop team was thrilled to have him. It was a heck of a Christmas party that year with 8 team members!
2016 was a rebuilding/growth year for The Seat Shop. As they continued to advance with R&D and adding new vehicles to their arsenal they took many hard steps that would benefit them in the future. They decided to build a new website that would be the most advanced user friendly site for their retail and wholesale customers. This involved taking 10 years of knowledge wrapped up in Brian and Hunter’s heads and putting it on paper. This was a long process as you can imagine, but it was worth it, as new website will make future ordering a breeze. Along with months of data for the website, they brought on 3 more team members, starting with Aaron Hooper. Aaron came aboard to assist Hunter with the Gerber cutting table. Although this is Aaron’s first job, he is extremely capable and has learned the product very well. Currently he runs the table alone and is responsible for cutting on average 60-80 covers a day. He is a vital part of the manufacturing process.
The next hire was Raul Mazariegos. Raul brought his engineering background and laser focus to take over the R&D department. They knew they needed someone that paid attention to the details. The Seat Shop’s R&D team is second to none and will not release a product unless they know everything about it. Raul’s attention to detail made him the perfect fit for this department. Towards the end of 2016 the final hire of the year was Josh Barton. Josh is truly an E-commerce specialist with years of knowledge in that space. In a short period of time he is responsible for big growth in that department. His experience in Amazon, Ebay, and other channels continues to help The Seat Shop advance. He was a key hire to beef up the E-commerce department and put them on the front lines of technology moving forward, as well as assisting in the launch of the new website. In April of 2017, Christopher Benson joined the team as Materials Manager, and is already hard at work organizing the warehouse and making sure our material stock levels are in order.
The Seat Shop has come a long way from Matt’s garage, and the entire team is excited to see what lies ahead!