There is a new and shining star within the MG community.
“From The Frame Up”, a company that specializes in hard to find MG parts, has had a meteoric rise to popularity amongst MG car owners. How is it possible that a company that started 3 years ago with the initial offering of the pedal spring set for the TC, has been able to expand and now offer most every item for that same car?
It is a fascinating story of the melding of the man, the machine, and the desire to help others which has led to a very successful new business.
THE MAN: Doug Pelton was raised on a farm in upstate New York. He learned at an early age what it took to repair and maintain the farm equipment which was of the same vintage as the T-Series cars.
To keep this equipment functional, it was the common practice of the day to save, salvage and refurbish.
Pelton went on to attend the US Air Force Academy studying engineering before becoming a career military pilot flying in various aircraft to include the F-15 fighter. Equally important during this period was that he was a military instructor (teacher) who consistently shared his knowledge with the next generation. He wrote technical instructions and military manuals as part of his normal duties.
After 20 years Pelton transitioned to the civilian community as a commercial airline pilot, last flying an A-320 for US Airways. As the Captain, he continued to hone his skills as a leader and learned to focus on the customer, the lifeblood of any business. The aggregate of these life time experiences, of being able to repair, engineer, teach, write, and lead, would serve him well as the foundation for a yet unknown destiny.
THE MACHINE: Pelton recalls as a teenager, seeing a snappy red sports car (recently “restored”) coming to the country on weekends; it was being driven by Dan, a young man who was pursuing Pelton’s cousin. According to Pelton, “the car was unique in that it had high narrow tires, long sleek fenders and most notably, the steering wheel was on the wrong side”. Upon the eventual marriage of this young couple, the car became a member of the family. It was proudly driven in many parades in Niagara Falls, NY until the rear axle housing disintegrated in 1973. The car then went into storage until Dan’s death.
Remembering the car as a teenager, Pelton afterwards sought to restore the car as a tribute to Dan who enjoyed the car so much. Only because of Pelton’s naiveté, did this car survive. He did not realize at the time he started, that this car was at best a parts donor. The 1967 restoration was actually a collection of parts from various other MGs, with the addition of lots of “bondo”, fresh paint, white naugahyde interior, and shag carpet.
Regardless, Pelton’s restoration continued for the next 4 1⁄2 years culminating in a host of lessons learned.
THE DESIRE: At the outset, the restoration of TC7670 was to be as technically accurate as possible. For Pelton, the thought of a restoration anything less than excellent, would be unacceptable. However, this desire for correctness led to a number of bitter lessons learned. First, there was no “best” or single source for information on how to restore a TC. Also, specific needs were unknown for what was proper for the car. This resulted in many parts being purchased, only to find out that they were incorrect or unserviceable. Many fasteners were purchased for the purpose of having a ready supply of hardware. Disappointment was never ending when these fasteners were incorrect. Most are still on the shelf today. The end result was needless money being spent, unwittingly adding to the total cost of restoration. The ultimate insult occurred when the pedal springs were purchased from multiple suppliers to see which would fit best. The findings showed that none were proper. This was the final intolerable event. As a customer, Pelton felt betrayed. Individuals trying to restore a car should not have to be subjected to this type of frustration. Pelton commented that if he was having these problems, then others were probably experiencing the same. This was the cross-roads that led to the formation of a company by the name of From The Frame Up. It was time to help others.
A STAR IS BORN: With the restoration of TC7670 EXU, a multitude of global sources were discovered. However, this was very time consuming, as evidenced with the time it took to complete the car. Additionally, many items were still non-existent and thus had to be manufactured or cannibalized and refurbished. Overall a clear understanding how to best supply these items became apparent.
Initially, Pelton began to offer those few items that he found. As he said, “Why should others spend time to research something that I have already discovered?” With these initial offerings came more demand and also requests for help. So, he began to share much of the information that he had researched for himself by simply writing articles. One of his first articles was written on TRIPLEX Glass. This was the manufacturer for the T-series windshields. Today, FTFU offers TRIPLEX windshields custom date coded to replicate factory glass. He has gone on to write over 40 technical articles on various subjects published by many MG clubs. Additionally, he has written over 50 Technical Tips which are available on his website: www.fromtheframeup.com. His most comprehensive writing is actually the company catalog, which was specifically written to also serve as a technical reference. It includes: item details for component assemblies, assembly orders, original part numbers, Tech Tips references, Moss item cross references, and a source for other MG T-series applications.
Customers have discovered that there is tremendous valued added when doing business with FTFU. It is by definition a place to “one stop shop.” If you need the smallest fastener, proper clip, or major component for the TC, FTFU will be able to help. However, the strength of the “Frame Up’s” business goes well beyond the multitude of offerings in its comprehensive 98 page catalog. FTFU offers much more.
The business of FTFU has actually evolved into a community of enthusiasts. Pelton’s daily routine includes answering questions on technical or assembly issues, proper application of parts, how to refurbish an item vice buying new, sending helpful photos, and many times making a direct phone call to clarify questions or chat about someone’s project. According to Pelton, “This aspect of the business is very time consuming but it is critical to its growth. Aside from helping others with quality customer service, I actually learn more when I have to help solve problems. The basis of most of my offerings is from the direct request of a customer.” The reality is that everyone benefits from this group involvement and interaction with Doug, to include the future customers.
When asked what is on the horizon for the company, Pelton responded. “In the short term, FTFU will continue to work on sourcing those items that are still non-existent. An example is the manufacturing of all the inner components of the TC gas cap, which is being finalized at present. No one has these parts. In the long term, restoration services will be added. It only makes sense that FTFU should restore these cars having both the extensive inventory of parts and knowledge.”
December 2010 marked the 3 year anniversary for From The Frame Up. The global customer base extends across 18 countries. If you have not done so already, check out the website: FromTheFrameUp.com for invaluable information and become part of the FTFU global community.
Ed’s note: A fascinating insight into Doug’s background, business start-up and development of From The Frame Up. It seems only yesterday to me that he supplied me with his first product line (the TC pedal spring set pictured below).