The mid 1990s were booming times for the economy/stock market but dark times for my beloved Audi. Gone were the heady '80s with the unfair advantage and record sales numbers. The grinch was that little issue (later proved a non-issue) called "unintended acceleration". On top of that, Audi wasn't helped by its products: I mean, who could get excited by the 90 or 100 series? This was the era when Audi considered pulling out of the US market, but there was hope on the horizon.
At this time in my life I'd finished school and was doing some professional racing. I'd been involved in the aftermarket performance industry for longer than a decade and was looking for an opportunity to bring technology to the aftermarket consumer. Two things converged to make this a reality. The first was meeting my business partner, Brett Augsburger. Brett is a technical genius who'd ultimately drive the world-renowned products that APR is famous for. The second factor was VAG taking a leap of faith and releasing the 1.8T onto the world market. Within a short time, Brett and I took another leap of faith and opened APR with an unknown name and no products.
From the beginning we were determined to do things differently. We wanted to bring aerospace technology to the aftermarket. For too long we had seen companies offering things that either weren't designed by them, or were developed by trial and error. APR invested in the tools, staff and know-how to do things right.
APR began to shake up the market from the beginning. Our initial product was software for the 1997 A4 1.8T. This software soon set the standard for hp and tq, with the kind of drivability others claimed wasn't possible. We began to add fully-designed exhaust and turbo systems to the lineup. We were the first to offer the Pro-E designed turbo systems that again shocked the industry with their refinement and OEM feel. Our design process involved Pro-E, SLA and CNC, to name a few of the technologies used in making APR products.
In 2001 we developed a groundbreaking system that gave the driver the flexibility of multiple programs at their fingertips. We call it the Enhanced Modular Chipping System (EMCS). This change ushered in by APR transformed the industry worldwide. In 2003 we took the system even further by offering the customer all the EMCS options with the ability to program the car without even touching the ECU - this latest innovation is called Direct Port Programming (DPP).
APR employs an excellent staff with specialized training in their field. We have ex-Bosch and Honda R&D engineers, to name a few of the impressive credentials our staff bring to the table when developing our product.
We've pushed to be market leaders when it comes to contacting us as well. We do over 25 shows a year throughout the country with our mobile 18-wheeler. This allows us to meet with many of our customers. We continue to strive to serve the customer and improve our customer services and relations.
I'm very proud with the way APR has led the industry since our inception in 1998. With all the new VAG cars on the horizon, we feel this is the dawn of a new era for all VW and Audi enthusiasts!
Innovation is a term used far too frequently in this industry - so frequently it means very little now. What is innovation, and when is it appropriate to claim to be an innovator? This is a subject that could be energetically debated but I believe that when it comes to innovation, APR has been true to the meaning of the word.
Stephen has already listed a few of the innovations developed by APR. One of my focuses at APR is to push the envelope and continually innovate. Innovation is not only a key to success; it also challenges the workforce and keeps things exciting. I thrive on challenges (and do less well with the mundane).
Another term I've found to be over-used is "research and development". While it's true our R&D facilities aren't up to the standard of Bell Labs, the disparity between the two is not as great as let's say a guy in his barn arc-welding headers. Yet this and everything in between is referred to as R&D these days. I believe that to do research you must have researchers, and to do development you must have developers. At APR we have both.
Let's face it, the performance industry hasn't always been the most technically impressive. Since this is a hobbyist's market, many of the manufacturers and suppliers started out as hobbyists. Often these hobbyists had little professional experience or skills that would relate to product development. Hence, technology lagged and the products reflected this.
Our formula is different. We're trying to prove you can have a successful performance company that invests heavily in technology and utilizes the latest developments. Hopefully, this is a formula others will recognize and replicate for other marques. Over the years we've put together an excellent R&D team to serve the industry and continue to innovate. This is where I feel we've made the biggest impact on the scene, and it's something we're dedicated to continuing.
The views of our guest speaker are not necessarily shared by eurotuner magazine.