Like a lot of high school kids, Curt Strohacker worked in a service station to earn some spending money, but he also repaired cars in his free time, buying and selling countless vehicles, and learning valuable lessons about restoration. As the market for automotive refurbishing began to take off in the 1970s, Curt realized that proper tools and techniques could save enthusiasts like him time and money.
So in the fall of 1978, Curt launched a business to better serve the burgeoning market of auto restoration and customization hobbyists, and he called it Eastwood.
The first Eastwood catalog was eight black-and-white pages of metal-finishing tools and equipment, and with continued success in the early ’80s, Curt took the catalog’s operation into a professional list house, and 5,000 copies of the catalog were distributed annually. In addition to catalog marketing, Eastwood also sold its line of products directly to restorers at select car shows.
In August 1983, both the Mercedes and BMW car clubs unexpectedly endorsed an Eastwood Car Wash Brush—sales multiplied and the staff soon doubled. The development of the Eastwood Spot-Weld Gun, a tool which duplicates the industrial spot-welds found on virtually every metal-bodied car, proved even more fortunate for the growing retailer.
At that time, most of Eastwood’s new business came from magazine ads in about a dozen publications. By the end of 1985, company advertisements appeared in over 50 magazines, including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Mechanics. In light of this, the catalog prospered as well, comprising 96 pages with a four-color cover in its 1986 iteration, which reached over 100,000 auto restorers bimonthly. As the company prepared to move into the new decade, Eastwood’s customer file quickly grew to over a half-million auto restoration and customization enthusiasts.
Eastwood’s own HotCoat® Powder Coating System revolutionized home workshops starting in 1997. By bringing an economical and easy-to-use powder-coating system into the garage, Eastwood had given hobbyists a superior alternative to paint; powder-coating produced a more durable and attractive finish which easily lent itself to custom work. In September 1998, Eastwood received the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for "Environmental Excellence", recognizing the low environmental impact of the HotCoat® system. In 1999, the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) awarded HotCoat® the "Best New Product" for that year.
In 2003, Eastwood introduced its English Wheel and Planishing Hammer, enabling a wider audience to access high-end metal-shaping tools. Since Eastwood’s Research & Development Department emphasized economical manufacturing processes, it allowed them to offer both of these tools to its customers for under $1,000, an achievement which the ARMO acknowledged with a 2004 "People’s Choice" award.
Recognizing the efficiency and potential of the Internet for improved customer interaction, Eastwood launched separate websites for its tool catalog and its HotCoat® powder-coating products. Those early sites contained information about new products and promotions, in addition to providing potential new customers with the opportunity to request an Eastwood catalog. Also, Eastwood stocked the site with technical articles relating to its most popular products, as well as "How To" tips.
Beginning in January 1999, the sites also allowed customers to order all the products, integrating purchasing systems from a secure site. In order to further increase efficiency and simplicity, the HotCoat® site and tool site were both combined into the revamped, full-service, ecommerce website, Eastwood.com, you’re visiting right now.
Though online retail has become increasingly prominent, Eastwood continues to publish a monthly, full-size catalog containing quality tools and supplies vital for all facets of restoration and custom work.
In November 1999, the company broke ground to build a cutting-edge headquarters, warehouse, and retail store facility northeast of Philadelphia, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Following an aggressive, eight-month construction project, Eastwood completely relocated to Pottstown in July 2000.
Since its inception, Eastwood recognizes that change constantly takes place in the marketplace, and so strives to stay abreast of these developments by placing customer satisfaction at the forefront. In recent years, the market for automotive hobbyists has expanded beyond the "classics", and Eastwood has seen increased requests for products geared towards muscle cars, street rods, trucks and motorcycles. The explosion of the sport tuner hobby has demanded products which emphasize ease-of-use and variety, as customizers strive to make their vehicles truly unique. In response, the company has continued to be an industry pioneer, adding innovative, high-quality products to its line. For example, the HotCoat® system now allows for the powder-coating of larger parts, and in a huge array of colors and finishes. Eastwood continues to prove its dedication to offering unique solutions to the challenges facing restoration and customization enthusiasts, and this devotion will ensure its place in the community.
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