A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE EASTHILL GROUP, INC.
dba The EASTWOOD COMPANY and HOTCOAT POWDER COATING SYSTEMS
The Early Days
In the fall of 1978, Curt Strohacker started a new business to serve a new market: the auto restoration and customization hobby. During high school, Curt worked in a service station, bought and sold innumerable vehicles, and learned some valuable lessons about restoration. When the auto restoration market took off in the 1970s, Curt realized that the right tools and techniques could help thousands of other restorers save time and money.
The first Eastwood catalog featured eight black and white pages of metal finishing equipment. By the early 1980s, the continued success took the catalog mailing operation into a professional list house. It reached 5,000 names by 1981 and kept growing. In addition to catalog marketing, Eastwood sold its products directly at selected car shows.
In August 1983, both the Mercedes and BMW car club magazines unexpectedly endorsed an Eastwood car wash brush. Sales multiplied and so did the staff, which soon doubled. The development of the Eastwood spotweld gun proved even more fortunate. This tool duplicates industrial spotwelds (found on virtually every metal-bodied car), and does so for under $60.00. Commercial spotwelders typically start at $300 and up.
Most of Eastwood’s new business at that time came from magazine ads. In 1983, Eastwood only advertised in about a dozen publications. By 1984 and 1985, company ads would appear in more than fifty publications, including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Mechanics. The catalog prospered as well, growing to 96 pages with a four-color cover by 1986. Circulation reached more than 100,000 auto restorers, who received six issues per year. By the end of the 1980’s, the Eastwood customer file for custom and auto restoration enthusiasts easily passed the half-million mark.
A Leader In Innovation
Better Than Paint – Eastwood’s Hotcoat powdercoating system revolutionized home workshops in 1997. By bringing an economical and easy to use powdercoating system into the garage, the DIY hobbyist automatically had another alternative to paint – an alternative that was more durable, shinier and easily lent itself to custom work. In September of 1998, Eastwood received the Pennsylvania Governor’s award for “Environmental Excellence” for the HotCoat Powder Coating System. This product, developed exclusively by Eastwood, was recognized for its low environmental impact. HotCoat also received the Automotive Restoration Market Organization’s “Best New Product” award for 1999.
In 2003, the introduction of the Eastwood Interchangeable English Wheel and Planishing Hammer brought these high-end metal shaping tools to a wider audience. Utilizing a common rigid frame enabled economical manufacture to allow Eastwood to offer both of these tools for under $1000.00. Eastwood’s greatest advocate is and has been their customers. By listening to customer needs, Eastwood has been able to develop better tools, processes and techniques.
Expansion and Growth
Recognizing that computer technology was a rapidly growing way to serve customers, Eastwood added web sites for The Eastwood Company tool catalog (www.eastwoodco.com) and HotCoat (www.HotCoat.com). Both sites include new product information and promotions, plus the ability to request catalogs online. The tool catalog site also has technical articles on some of our most popular products and how-to tips. In January of 1999, we added fully integrated online ordering capabilities on both sites, enabling all catalog items plus many other items to be purchased from our secure sites. For improved efficiency, as with our printed catalog, the HotCoat site has been integrated into www.eastwoodco.com.
Today, the Eastwood tool catalog is published monthly in a full-size format and is full of quality tools and supplies covering all aspects of restoration and custom work. In November of 1999, the company broke ground for a new state of the art facility north of Philadelphia in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The company completely relocated to Pottstown in July of 2000 after an aggressive eight-month project.
Eastwood Looks To The Future – Restoration And Customization
Eastwood has recognized changes in the marketplace since its inception and has always placed customer satisfaction at the forefront. There has been greater demand for products geared to muscle cars, street rods, trucks, and motorcycles in addition to the classics over the last several years. The recent growth of the sport tuner market has also placed a demand on Eastwood for innovative products that make projects easier and the hobby more satisfying. Eastwood continues to add high quality, pioneering products to their line. Hotcoat has expanded to allow the coating of much larger parts and new lines of automotive accessories allow the customer to use Eastwood as a one-stop-shop for both restoration and customization needs.
Eastwood is dedicated to providing unique products and innovative solutions for its customers worldwide. This dedication and adaptability ensures Eastwood’s place as a pillar of the automotive community.