Having built a reputation over more than half a century of making some of the industry’s finest products and systems, Edelbrock Performance Parts of Torrence, California has been well known among 'car nuts' since its founding in 1938 by Vic Edelbrock. In one respect, Edelbrock has all but dominated markets they're in, producing a wide range of products from superchargers, intake manifolds, heads, crate engines and more.
But equally famous is Comp Cams, headquartered in Memphis. The company is also known for its line of performance camshafts, transmissions, heads, upper-end systems including pistons, lifters, valves, and springs for applications in the automotive, motorcycle and kart industries. Comp, with locations across the country, is a name, a logo, and decal affixed to the left front fender of many NASCAR racers that have been rolling advertising of the company for decades.
According to Chief Operating Officer and one of the owners, Paul "Scooter" Brothers, "(Comp Cams) was founded in 1975 out of the original start-up operation, Racing Head Services (RHS). An attempted business deal with Cam Dynamics of Memphis, back nearly 50 years ago, deteriorated into differences between the two. Those issues led to a court battle.
"RHS won the case with part of the settlement being that RHS started a new cam company under the name, Competition Cams (later shortened to Comp Cams). Eventually, as Comp grew the company bought-out Crane Cams, Lunatti, Cam Dynamics and others, and began an expansion program over the years developing brands including FAST, TCI, ZEX and more. What was at first a company focused on drag racing, Comp employed 400 people and grossing over $100-million annually.
"We weren't involved in NASCAR or racing on that level back then,” Brothers continues. “But we saw racers losing engines, breaking parts, and having break downs, and the teams – the owners and drivers – began reaching out for help. We saw an opportunity and started engineering solutions that, I'm proud to say, Comp was instrumental in changing the racing world. Our efforts led to tight relationships with race teams on many levels, NASCAR especially."
But change was on the horizon and in mid-summer of 2018, Comp managers met the man who owns the private equity group which owns Edelbrock, Industrial Operating Partners of Chicago.
"What began as talks over our leasing warehouse space to Edelbrock, in order for them to have an eastern shipping center, discussions escalated," according to Brothers.
Talks with Edelbrock led to a decision to form another private equity group to buy both Comp and Edelbrock, which became more than a merger between the two and more of a collaboration.
Since the first of February, Edelbrock has begun moving product from Torrence to the new facility both will occupy in Olive Branch, where shipping to customers is already taking place.
What at first was viewed by industry analysts as a take-over acquisition quickly became obvious that the business deal was a merger – a collaborative move – fueled by Edelbrock liking Comp's close relationships with suppliers and their customers. And so with the merger finalized in late 2019, the two companies are now linked together. Together, they are poised to become a global powerhouse of aftermarket parts, accessories, and new-think products.
So what does all of this mean? It means two companies with the same goal coming together and traveling the same path to benefit their combined business plan and for the betterment of their customers.
And what about the future? According to Brothers, "Several years ago, Comp formed a relationship with Clemson University in South Carolina, giving the school grant money for students in the automotive engineering program with the intention of (Comp Cams) hiring graduates who will be the designers and creators of systems that will power the next-generation cars and trucks.
"Comp is also working with the Department of Energy to develop a new molecule that will be added to oil in order to benefit hybrids and electric vehicles, and for military drones. So it won't always be cams and drive trains, but it will definitely be something.”
The world is changing and companies like Comp and Edelbrock brought together in a multi-million dollar partnership, are prepared to lead with innovation and technology advances to meet the needs of anything and everything in both automotive, commercial and military industries in the years to come.