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Unlimited Offroad Centers, Inc.

By Mike Olmstead, Contributing Writer

Nestled off of US 23 just north of the small town of Fenton, MI (pop. 11,700) you will find Unlimited Offroad Centers Inc, a well known aftermarket shop specializing primarily in Jeeps and other full size 4x4s. Unlimited’s niche lies in upgrading stock SUVs & truck’s offroad capability so that their owners may more fully enjoy a variety of ORV trails, not only here in Michigan, but nationwide!

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Unlimited’s owner, Adam Shoemaker, started the business out of a single bay garage behind his mom’s in 2005. The business grew, and it wasn’t long until he had to move to a larger building, just down the road from Unlimited’s current location. Demand for quality off-road work continued, the business continued to grow, and they had to move again to their current location on  W. Thompson Rd about 10 years ago. And to accommodate growth in 2021 they added an additional shop and storage space when the building next door became available!

Unlimited’s main location is their 10,000 sq. ft.  building which is home to their main offices, 1,300 sq. ft. sales floor, a 6-bay shop, as well as shipping, receiving, and marketing areas. Their newest building next door provides 5,000 sq. ft. of additional shop space with four more bays as well as much needed storage for inventory and work-in-process.

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Staffing Unlimited Offroad is a group of folks committed to Unlimited Offroad’s mission. At any given time Unlimited has a total staff of between 15 and 20 employees with an average tenure between ten and fifteen years! This includes the usual office, sales, marketing and other staff. Their shop is staffed by  five certified techs all certified in at least three (or more) of the following disciplines: suspension, brakes, engine, and drivetrain. Unlimited employs only certified techs in the shop!

Unlimited’s forte & passion is clearly the full-size truck & SUV off road aftermarket, particularly Jeeps, and Ford/Chevy/Ram pickups.  They offer a broad range of aftermarket work from simple cosmetics such as running boards and lighting, to ‘full blown’ dedicated trail vehicles. A good piece of their bread and butter though is the ‘middle of the road’ aftermarket of vehicle lifts, wheels and tires, with bumpers and winches common add-ons.

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Unlimited Offroad Centers

A solid sign of a successful enterprise is growth and repeat business, and Unlimited has great numbers on both. Approximately 60% of their business is repeat customers – a great indicator of the quality work that they do. In addition, through 2020 they were experiencing about a 10% annual growth rate. And then Covid hit! And business exploded! To quote Adam: “Everyone had two handfuls of money and they wanted to spend it!”  Business shot up 40%!  Since the covid bubble bump sales have ‘calmed down’, but sales are still growing consistently, and Adam is happy with where they’re going.

Fueling this market is a strong demand for outdoor motorized recreation. This is evidenced by soaring ORV license sales, the emergence of new venues such as the Holly Oaks ORV Park, and increased ORV traffic at other public venues like Drummond Island and Silver Lake.  In addition, it has been estimated that 70% of all new Jeep owners are spending money on upgrades to their new Jeep within the first 90 days of purchase.

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Although Unlimited has a wide variety of clients with rigs ranging from 4×4 SUVs to 4×4 pickups, and from Jeep brand to Toyota, about 85% of their business is Jeep related. Big Jeeps, little Jeeps, new Jeeps, old Jeeps!  Adam estimated that Unlimited turns out about 200 vehicle builds per year. Unlimited’s most common modifications are suspension lifts combined with a wheel and tire upgrades.  And as noted, these are accompanied many times with bumpers, lights and winch upgrades.

In order to accommodate their clientele, Unlimited keeps a large inventory of Jeep parts, tires, wheels, and other popular aftermarket parts in stock so that when Mr. Client shows up Unlimited can deliver. Pre-Covid it was not uncommon for shops to carry minimal inventory and order up parts and material as needed.  It’s not a secret that supply chain issues have been rampant since the Covid bump, and what used to take a couple days to get delivered to your shop now takes a couple weeks – if you’re lucky! Adam admitted that keeping a large inventory flies in the face of “lean business” models (he shared that his accountant went through the roof!!), but for Unlimited it pays off because he doesn’t have to delay – or even turn away – business.

Unlimited Offroad Centers

Unlimited Offroad Centers

We also asked Adam if Unlimited does anything in the side-by-side market (also known as a “UTV” or “Utility Terrain Vehicle”). Adam responded that when side-by-sides first started becoming popular Unlimited ‘tested the waters’, but soon learned that Unlimited’s niche is really in the full-size market. That, combined with the fact that the side-by-side market was already being well served by the existing dirt bike/ATV/UTV ‘power sports’ shops, made it an easy call to pass on that segment.

Unlimited also has a pretty elaborate ‘road show’! As a part of their marketing program, Unlimited brings their merchandising trailer to about a dozen different events every year, and usually with some of their recent builds. You can purchase a wide variety of parts and accessories, as well as sportswear and other branded merchandise. You can pick their expert’s brains, and even book shop time.

If you enjoy trail riding in Jeeps or other full sized 4x4s and SUVs, and you want to squeeze a little more or a lot more out of your vehicle, Unlimited is the place to go!
Check them out at
www.unlimitedoffroad.com

Unlimited Offroad Centers

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