Osprey Custom Cars - The World's Most Cutting-Edge & Timeless Overland Vehicles
Based in sunny Wilmington, North Carolina, Osprey Custom Cars are the visionaries and crafters behind the world’s most cutting-edge and timeless overland vehicles. They truly love what they do - this is a lifelong love affair for them. They are a family business and know the dream of creating something that lasts. Whatever your dream is, Osprey is confident that they can bring it to life.
Dominik Severino: So the first thing I would like to ask is, what was the build that was the most inspiring to you, or the build that changed the way you go about doing what you do, and why?
Aaron Richardet: Well starting back in ‘08 or ‘09, we were at the bottom working our way up, learning through the curves. And one of the most important things that I try to center my business on is customer satisfaction. So with any of the projects that I am working on now, I don’t want to make excuses for, or apologize for anything. Which is tough because I always strive for perfection, and even new cars have issues. So at some point you have to make changes. We want the customer to love the way it looks, the way it drives, and the way it feels, and we want to custom tailor it to them. And with that said, we want to have duplications, so that if something does go wrong, we can fix it and ensure customer satisfaction.
You can’t do that with restoring old trucks like we used to. That’s why now our builds have gone from old cars being restored to brand new builds with brand new parts.
So let’s say I see Osprey in a magazine, or online, and I am immediately intrigued. I contact you, then what happens?
Usually we just talk. 95% of the time, these are not people’s primary cars, but cars for a second or third home. And I have to know what the need, and design for the vehicle is. So we’ll just start talking like two buddies, and figure out how you are going to use it.
We do a lot of luxurious builds for The Hamptons, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Orange County, places like that, but we also send a lot of our products to the upper midwest for fly fishing vehicles. And when we do those, we change up the interior. It’s not as glamorous because they’ll want to put the dog, fishing poles and tackle in the car, and hose it out at the end of the day. So we just have a long conversation.
People come to me with ideas and they either work or they don’t. And if they don’t, we want to keep the customer as happy as possible, so we’ll always suggest the option that guarantees the most functionality, and durability.
I’m curious about the artistry behind your product. I’m sure that sometimes customers will come in and bring new ideas to your attention, and inspire you with something that you haven’t thought of.
All the time. Maybe someone will see something they like such as a custom Sprinter, and they’ll ask for teak floors, and that wasn’t something that we came up with on our own. A customer back in 2012 suggested that, and eight or nine years ago we were doing that before anybody. Right now, we’re doing a truck for a distillery in Kentucky, and we’re putting all of their custom logos on it. They’ll keep it around the distillery for a while, and then it’ll go up to Montana to be their fly fishing vehicle.
You mentioned that a lot of your business comes from places like Nantucket and Orange County. What is it about those areas where you see a high concentration of customers?
The reason being is that we build a lot of Defenders, and Defenders are very versatile vehicles. Every outdoor lifestyle person knows all about them, and that type of buyer is always looking, and they’re always thinking about it. Now that Landrover is also really advertising their new line of Defenders, it is reinvigorating people who wanted one, for example when they got out of college but couldn’t afford it. They’ll see the new Defender, and they aren’t the same as the older ones. That’s how they’ll come across us. And at the end of the day, they’re about the same price as some of your high class sports cars, but if you pull up in one of those, vs. pulling up in an Osprey Defender, you’ll be treated a very different way. A lot of our buyers like that aspect of it. They can have a really nice car to add to their collection and functionally use whether they’re down in Alabama at their duck hunting place, Texas, or somewhere like Orange County.
What is a build that you are currently working on that really has you inspired?
Well, the one that comes to mind isn’t a build, it’s a restoration. It’s for a really nice guy up in New York. He bought a car back in California and didn’t get what he thought he was getting. So he contacted me, and I was up in New York so I went to pick up his car and meet face to face, which I usually don’t do; I usually meet the customers face to face when I drop off their vehicles. And he kind of held off on a couple of things as he wanted to save a couple grand. So his wife reached out to me later without him knowing and said, “Listen I know that he really wants this color, so how much extra is it?” His car is going to be delivered next week, and he has no idea that it is going to be blue, because his wife is doing that as a gift. I can’t wait to see the look on his face once I back it out of the trailer.
That’s an amazing story, and I’m sure he’s going to be blown away. Do you get a lot of significant others ordering vehicles as gifts?
Very often, yes. We have about eighteen projects active in the shop right now, and three of them are gifts.
You have eighteen active projects right now?!
Yes, eighteen active projects. We break all of our stuff down into crews and teams. We have three massive rooms in our building. One for things like the engine, axles, the frame, all the plumbing and that sort of stuff. Then a room where we work on the body, and then it comes to the room where we do the final finish and any last touches.
The most important thing to know is that every one of my customers gets my direct phone number. I’m always here for them seven days a week. We stand behind our product, and we look to build a long term relationship with our customers. That’s why I personally deliver almost all of the projects so that we get to meet in the end eye to eye. I love repeat business, and referrals are the easiest sells of all. That’s what has helped our business grow so much.