Enzo's Everett Morrison Cobra...
Enzo's Everett Morrison Cobra was yellow with black stripes. We figured having Florida resident Richard Bailey crossing the finish line in his black-over-yellow BDR roadster well-suited our objective of a catchy lead photo for Finish Line Accessories.
In the last two issues of KC, we chronicled a couple stops on the "KIT CAR Travels To Florida" road tour. The magazine's advertising sales gurus-Angela Schoof, associate publisher, and Brenda Frias, advertising sales executive-accompanied KC's editor on a weeklong road-warrior junket of the Sunshine State. The third visit for the intrepid trio was a fun-filled stop at Finish Line Accessories in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Most Cobra replica enthusiasts who have built their own roadster have probably done business with the company. Many of you probably aren't aware of how Finish Line grew from selling Moto-Lita Cobra steering wheels to becoming a multi-million dollar success story.
Company founder Enzo Alibrandi and his lovely wife, Paula, met us on a typically perfect-weather Florida morning and gave us a grand tour of the Finish Line facility. They were gracious hosts.
Since most don't know of Enzo's road to founding Finish Line, KC thought you'd enjoy getting the scoop. He and his siblings grew up in a traditional Italian household, where family values, hard work, and a good education were instilled in all the Alibrandis. Enzo received his undergraduate degree as a civil engineer, yet early in his professional career he worked as a computer technician for IBM. While installing IBM System 38s, System 34s, and a Novell network of PCs at a law firm in Florida (and writing legal software for the firm's computer network), he met Paula. Throughout his days of being a computer hardware and software guru, he pursued his passion for exotic automobiles with quite a fervor. He collected and raced Ferraris, Formula 3000s, Formula Fords, go-carts, and shifter carts. Having a first name like Enzo, owning Ferraris came naturally. Around that same time, he purchased an Everett Morrison Cobra replica and set out to build his own Ferrari killer. His EM had a 427ci Ford V-8 with Weber induction.
The primary operations center...
The primary operations center for Finish Line is company founder Enzo Alibrandi's office. Here, he has set up an impromptu photo studio, where he shoots new products for the Finish Line website and the mail-order catalog. You can also see photos of Enzo with one of the many Ferraris he has owned, raced, and enjoyed.
During the construction of the EM, he became frustrated while trying to obtain top-quality accessories for the car. When he purchased a Moto-Lita steering wheel, the same wheel that original Cobras use, he decided to be a U.S. distributor for Moto-Lita. Automotive journalist Joe Greeves wrote an incisive feature article on Enzo's EM Cobra in Kit Car Illustrated, which helped give Mr. Alibrandi's burgeoning Cobra wheel business some needed publicity. At this same time, in 1992, Enzo started advertising in KIT CAR and Kit Car Illustrated. Sales of the Moto-Lita products exploded. Encouraged, Enzo began to sell other Cobra accessories, aided by recommendations of the various Cobra replica manufacturers of the day, like ERA, Unique Motorcars, Everett Morrison, Contemporary Classics, Shell Valley, and Factory Five Racing. He supplemented his income in the early days by building and installing engines in Cobra and GT40 replicas, as well as tuning Weber twin-throat carburetor systems for customers. His expertise with the finicky multi-Weber induction systems continues to be well known.
Swift and steady, Finish Line Accessories continued to grow. Enzo exhibited his wares at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and at local shows in Florida. Using Publisher software and an HP color jet printer, Enzo produced his first 10-page mail-order catalog in 1997. That same year, his web store went live. Gross sales went from $80,000 in 1996 with no web presence to $225,000 in 1997 with a Finish Line Accessories web store. Sales almost doubled again in 1998, with $410,000 in gross revenues. Steady increases ensued each year: $548,000 for 1999; $1,000,020 in 2000; $1,500,000 in 2002; and over $2,000,000 last year.
These days Finish Line Accessories is a family-run business. Several years ago, Paula left the law firm to work with Enzo. More recently, three other relatives joined forces in growing this great business.
Finish Line Accessories has helped countless Cobra, GT40, and Daytona Coupe replica builders create their dream cars. All of us Cobra fans are fortunate to have Enzo and family at Finish Line helping us with our projects.
Enzo, Paula, Johnny, Gabrielle, Gabe, and Bob were all so friendly and hospitable we could have stayed the entire day at Finish Line Accessories. But we had another appointment that afternoon a couple of hours away. So we said thanks and see you soon. The KC trio left Finish Line in time to beat traffic out to destination No. 4 in the road-warrior tour of Florida. Where will we go next? You'll need to tune in next issue to find out.
The firm's warehouse is inordinately...
The firm's warehouse is inordinately tidy, organized, and categorized by product. Employees know exactly where to find the components that need to be shipped the nanosecond they're ordered from the Finish Line website or the very minute a phone order is placed.
Various components are now...
Various components are now manufactured at Finish Line Accessories. Early on in the company's history, Enzo recognized a need to fabricate parts that weren't already available.
Customer orders are kitted,...
Customer orders are kitted, weighed, packed, and shipped in the company's streamline shipping area.
Every customer order gets...
Every customer order gets a Finish Line Accessories catalog packed with components. The Cobra on the catalog's cover is Enzo Alibrandi's Everett Morrison, the car that gave Enzo the idea to go into the Cobra, GT40, and Daytona Coupe replica accessory business.