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M arti n Tu reček ( l ef t) a Mar ek Č ep ic a

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Wrap

and Furious Martin Tureček and Marek Čepica have quietly built from Zlín, Czech Republic, the world's largest franchisor for design car wraps. Their WrapStyle came up with first the full-chrome car, it created the design on a Bugatti Chiron in Dubai, it wrapped cars for the movie Furious 7 of The Fast and the Furious series, and it has branches from Australia, South Korea, and India to Europe. And before it stands the ultimate goal - the United States. Its Czech owners are telling their story for the first time. JAROSLAV MAŠEK, FOTO: MICHAEL TOMEŠ

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en cars, altogether worth well over 400,000 Euro and a small airport, which had previously served a miracle of socialist economy - the United Agricultural Cooperative JZD Slušovice. On the horizon the Vizovice hills, a drone overhead and the roar of engines in the ears. “Turn that Lambo a bit more to the right, move the Camaro forward, the Corvette back,“ Martin Tureček conducts parking in his usual black baseball cap and black collar T-shirt, while all 14 employees of the company WrapStyle buzz around busily. His business partner Marek Čepica, also dressed in black, stands alongside a concrete surface, and as usual, he is deeper in thought as he checks the final touches on the cars. All these cars have just two things in common: first, they certainly do not look like some boring, series-manufactured product. And secondly, each of them is wrapped exclusively in adhesive films by WrapStyle. Obviously by their own design and own people. There are also just two reasons behind this whole circus. A photo shoot for Forbes, in which WrapStyle‘s owners decided to show off their best, so they called upon customers from half of the country (the photo shoot took three months to arrange). The second reason was to have a little WrapStyle company party as a chance to thank employees actively engaged in developing the largest franchise network for design car wraps. Yes, you read right. Officially only eight years old, WrapStyle, based in Zlín, today boasts 26 branches in 20 countries worldwide. The farthest the brand has gotten is Sydney, Australia, and the closest is just beyond their native Czech lands in Poznan, Poland. Works are currently in motion to open franchises in Cambodia, Mauritius and Canada. Annually, thanks to Martin Tureček (40) and Marek Čepica (42), they wrap roughly seven thousand cars globally, whereas they still create the vast majority of the designs in their own company, all done by Czechs. You say you’ve never read about any of this? Well, that’s because WrapStyle’s founders had yet to give an in-depth interview. „We are ordinary guys who love cars and design. We grew up in prefab

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WrapStyle team with cars from their production

apartment buildings; I‘m trained as an electrician, Marek a chef. We do not want to brag too much and a few times we nearly went bankrupt,” laughs Martin later on in their Zlín office (of course designed in black) full of sketches that the two buddies work on together. According to their colleagues, Martin is more visionary and pushes the envelope, whereas Marek is down to earth, overseeing finances and operations, and watches the company’s back. This practical separation has served them well since 2000 when they first met. Meanwhile, Marek immediately saved Martin. „After my first semester, I gave up cyberne-

tics in Brno, and then got into an advertising agency where Marek was already working. I’ve dug design since childhood. I was always drawing something and came up with graffiti, but I didn’t know anything at all about computer graphics, even though I claimed the opposite during my job interview. So when I got my first assignment to design business cards, I had no idea how to go about it. But Marek showed me everything and this worked for about a year before I eventually got fired,” says the smiling Martin as his partner nods. They also first encountered in that agency promotional car wraps, and this coincided with the time

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when the Czech Republic started up car window tinting. Their paths did part ways then for a few years, but in 2006, Marek called, telling Martin that he was starting his own business and that his former colleague should go in on it with him. Martin did not hesitate even for a moment despite having a decent job in a different advertising agency. „Car window tinting was good business at the time. Especially in the Ostrava area where I lived back then. Everyone there wanted to have dark windows on a black Superb,“ says Marek, explaining that he was in charge of Ostrava while Martin oversaw their home of Zlín and surroundings.

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They describe the separation of roles back then, whereby Marek earned money in Ostrava and thus kept the Zlín branch afloat because it was facing much greater competition. But in the meantime, Martin in Zlín kept trying the technique of design full-body wraps of cars, which he enjoyed the most, though general interest in them was still weak. „Martin is a visionary and always systematically worked on full-body wraps. Even though we were wrapping for instance just 20 cars per year and applying several thousand films on glass. But when the 2010 decree banned tinted front side windows, and we suddenly lost of 70% of

In 2011, Martin invented a way to combine different films so that the result looked like chrome. Up until this time, this was out of everyone’s reach, and after several experiments, cars appeared silver at best. „Martin was really into chrome and kept trying to develop a technique to do it. Development cost us dearly in money and material. When the film was stretched across, it would lose its luster and became like aluminum foil. Martin eventually figured it out and we found a customer willing to pay us 4,500 Euro for us to wrap his Nissan GT-R in gold chrome. Then we wrapped an older Chevrolet Camaro in silver chrome and shot a short video about it,“ remembers Marek, describing the groundbreaking achievement. The „chromed“ Camaro video scored 300,000 YouTube views in just two weeks and the phones started ringing. Calls came in from around the world. The first foreign

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our revenue, we had an alternative already prepared,“ says Marek. The first hit among lovers of BMW, Audi and Mercedes (from among whom allegedly people interested in design body wraps are recruited most often) was the „black matte“. „We wrapped it for example on a Mercedes-Benz S-class and immediately a dude with a Fabio came by wanting the same exact thing. It wasn’t expensive, something around 1,150 Euro. But we were not putting our wraps on cheaper cars so as not to spoil the market and to maintain the exclusivity of the film. The competition of course didn‘t mind and began wrapping everything basically, so in time the exclusivity faded. Fortunately, in 2011 came another turning point - vinyl wrap in 3D carbon fiber style,“ remembers Martin in the time when greater Zlín was dominated by a rapper and steel trader with the stage name David Steel (later taken into custody for investigation into tax fraud), who had a carbon fiber vinyl film wrapped tightly to his Lamborghini. This business with wrapping cars slowly began to grow, the company transformed while still under the name TinTek, and Marek came back home to Zlín. Then came global reach. The time dominated by mirror film vinyl known as chrome wrapping.


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customer was from the Brunei royal family (the sister of the Brunei princess), who wanted to have her Lamborghini Gallardo wrapped in blue chrome, with orange chrome to go on her Mini Cooper. „Martin flew over there with a translator since he didn‘t know much English at the time, and he got the job done. Actually, to this day they still owe us part of the money; usually over there they‘re not too keen on paying. Instead of 20,000 Euro they paid us half. But it was more good publicity,“ recalls Marek. A second chromed Chevrolet Camaro originated in the United States serving as an adverisement for the Tábor manufacturer of spark plugs Brisk (and this year’s 73rd largest Czech family-owned business according to Forbes). „I saw that video and tried calling the company. Originally, I had no idea they were Czechs. Everything happened so fast, we needed something really cool for a car and motorsport exhibition in Orlando, Florida, attended by 60,000 people each year. We bought the car, the guys arrived as promised and their work was perfect. The Camaro ultimately stood at the entrance and we still have it today,“ says of the first American custom job by WrapStyle Martin Uhlíř, who owns the company Brisk USA and is the exclusive dealer of Czech spark plugs on the US market. Incidentally, these spark plugs are successful in the USA especially in race cars thanks to their solid parameters in a very wide range of engine temperatures. And 2012 continued to be significant. Martin convinced Mark that they had to purchase the domain Wrapstyle.com, which eventually cost 4,000 Euro, a sum then representing virtually all their financial reserves. In doing so, the global brand and corporate identity were forever established. This association of tradesmen turned into the company WrapStyle. The business thus turned professional and the Tureček & Čepica duo opened their first foreign branch. „This guy from Dubai contacted us saying he wanted to wrap his Porsche Panamera in chrome. Martin said quite tactically that they had no time, but were seeking out a partner for the region. He “took the bait” so to speak, and so our branch in Dubai was born,“ explains Marek.

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Whoever now expects to read about a happy ending and gold or at least silver financial times will be disappointed. It turned out that the Dubai branch was more trouble than it was worth. Prices for wrapping there were significantly lower than their partner had imagined, the cost of living high, and Marek and Martin would rotate there over six-week stints, taking turns to oversee the whole business there. „Family life suffered a lot, we were exhausted and the Dubai branch swallowed up all the money from elsewhere,“ says Martin, recalling the time that taught them to think about developing their business differently than through their own partner companies. The idea of franchising came to him at the time, i.e. renting their know-how and designs out to other companies that ideally had already been wrapping cars. This model takes the form of a one-time initial fee and monthly payments for ongoing services. In the case of a wider franchise, WrapStyle charges 15,000 Euro, or 1,000 Euro per month. „A year after the branch opened, I was sitting in a room in Dubai depressed, and I didn’t even have enough for a plane ticket home. Marek meanwhile negotiated some loans back in the CR,” Martin describes of the situation, when he suddenly got an

email from Qatar that a local company was looking for two franchises. It was the right time. „They paid us 30,000 Euro in advance. At a time when we were just about running out of material. And Qatar also started a wave in the Middle East. Then franchises opened in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and the business took off. It was also a bridge to Asia. Today we are in Vietnam, Bangkok and Singapore,“ he added. The wealth of accomplishments WrapStyle has achieved in its field is evidenced by the numerous awards bestowed upon it by the wrapping community. In addition to being the leader in chrome wrap technology, WrapStyle is a three-time winner of the competition Wrap Like a King, organized by multinational foil manufacturer Avery Denisson. The company was also involved in the preparation of some cars from the movie series The Fast and the Furious (Furious 7 shot in Abu Dhabi). Recent major and noteworthy designs include a Lamborghini Huracan, featuring the Joker on the driver‘s side door and his mistress Harley Quinn on the passenger (or, better co-driver) side door. It was created for an esteemed Czech customer, and it can be seen mostly in northern Moravia. „The founders of WrapStyle are super specialists and have contributed so much to the community. In addition, they are not

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in it just to do business and make money, they really love cars and are always seeking out something new,“ says German Rainer Lorz, lavishing praise on the Czechs. Lorz is one of Europe‘s most famous wrapping instructors, having dedicated 20 years to the field. He heads the industry portal The Wrap Institute in Europe. WrapStyle currently has no branches of its own, but only franchisees to which it provides services under its brand name. So last year, the Czech headquarters where the aforementioned 14 people work, made nearly 1.35 million Euro on franchise fees and supplementary services. This year, they should do even slightly better despite the coronavirus pandemic. It also has franchisees exclusively in the Czech Republic, so it concentrates mainly on developing designs, training partners in wrapping techniques or on negotiations with material suppliers. „Outside of providing training, Martin and I don‘t wrap anymore. Just our own cars for pleasure, or when a franchisee needs help with some specialty wrap. And even Martin‘s brother took over operation of the local branch in Zlín,“ says Marek, who recently drove the company‘s Leon Cupra with wildly bloody design, while his fifty-fifty partner in the company drives a Toyota Land Cruiser with camouflage wrap. Both have focused in recent years primarily on services for franchisees and on design open to other companies in the field. Both with the touch of virtual reality. They

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thus own the e-shop Wrapstock.com and portal 3DChanger.com, from which, for a fee, a design can be downloaded and the customer can even visualize it on their own car in 3D. „It is intended for example for smaller companies in our industry that do not have their own designers. They click on a specific car, receive an offer for wraps, and then download the data based on which they will work. But the program can also be downloaded by enthusiasts who then use it to model their own cars. During the loc kdown, when we weren‘t able to wrap we could see how well our online business supplements the physical business,“ says Martin, adding that in the past half year 5,000 people downloaded the “changer”, whereas the paid version costs 177 Euro. Both WrapStyle owners still figure in the company UnrealExists, which programs applications for virtual reality and is something of an incubator for ideas and IT solutions. „This is the future and it is moving forward incredibly fast. At some franchisees, a customer can already put on a pair of virtual reality glasses, and we‘ll show him what his car will look like, or let him choose in detail just what he wants,“ says visionary Martin, adding that in recent years, they‘ve invested earnings right back into further developing their on-line solution, and that nothing will change in that respect. In terms of the business, the wrapping duo from Zlín has

one more goal in mind - the United States. The largest wrapping market in the world where their brand has yet to venture. „We‘re careful, we don’t want to make a bad entry and ruin our image. We’ve negotiated with several partners and we want to choose the most suitable. Canada, where we are just opening, will be our launch pad for the North American market,“ adds Marek. Martin Tureček meanwhile daydreams a little: „Within three years? I want to have more than 100 branches around the world. And strong online sales with virtual reality. And yet keep my feet on the ground. We‘re still ordinary guys who grew up in prefab apartment buildings.”

How wrapping is performed For a better understanding of what WrapStyle does, it’s good to distinguish three kinds of car wraps design, protective and advertising. The Zlín company specializes mainly in the first two, which have the greatest added value. It also invents its own designs or prepares them in direct collaboration with customers. Prices to wrap the entire car vary depending on to the quality of films from around 1,900 Euro to 5,700 Euro and up, excluding VAT. Also transparent films are growing in popularity, which protect the most stressed parts of the vehicle such as the hood and wheel arches. Generally, the film should last on the car for at least four years, depending of course on how much it is worn, for example, by the sun. The best quality ones now have the capability of „self-healing“ where after heating, the scratch tears off. Wrapping the vehicle usually takes two days; design preparation can take a while. Wrapping companies order materials from manufacturers such as Avery Dennison, and print more complex designs themselves on special white film.

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