In the second part of our exclusive interview with Sandy Copeman, founder of the Amalgam Collection, we discuss their business operations, partnerships, challenges, and of course stunning luxury vehicles. Sandy opens up about Amalgam’s unique relationship with Ferrari and Ralph Lauren, shares with the readers his most cherished accomplishments, and talks about the history of this luxury company.
Once again, this story is filled with highly artistic images of the world’s most exotic model cars that are made with such attention to detail it’s hard to tell them apart from their full-size counterparts. So, without further ado, here’s our second and final part of this fascinating interview with Mr. Copeman.
Have your models sold at auctions, and do you know how well they did?
Our models that have come into the market at auction in the last few years have maintained or exceeded their original retail prices. I have not seen any of our complex and one-off models come to auction yet, but I expect to see them gain in value in future years.
Environment and sustainability are clearly important to your business. What made Amalgam Collection start such a program, and can you talk about the cost/benefit experience with it? Surely it isn’t cheap, but has it brought you more sales or new clients?
We are implementing changes at the moment to use recyclable and returnable packaging made from wood, paper and other natural materials, which in all honesty is as much driven by aesthetic considerations as moral ones, but in fact aesthetics and moral considerations work naturally alongside each other and are a perfect fit. I think the growing desire in society and culture to change our ways and not buy, sell, or make stuff that swiftly ends up in a hole in the ground within a few years, months or even minutes, is one that we have always believed in, and that has shaped the Amalgam brand from the start. We have always believed in the maxim ‘buy less and buy better’, our models will last and give pleasure for many decades, even for centuries if properly cared for.
Has Amalgam Collection’s path to fame been gradual or was there a game changing event or model that put your business on the map?
While the path has indeed mostly been gradual, there have been two partnerships that were outstandingly significant in the development of Amalgam as a brand. When we hooked up with Ferrari in 1998 just in time to catch the Schumacher Championship years in Formula 1, we not only suddenly had a world class partner, we also had the opportunity to learn how the world’s most well known brand achieved that status, and learn it from the inside working with some of the best marketing and brand people in the world. The unique, wonderful and truly heart-warming thing about Ferrari, is the incredible and real passion and authenticity that runs right through the entire company at every level. It continues to be a joy and an education for me to work alongside them!
The second major event in the Amalgam brand’s history was connecting with Ralph Lauren and his team in 2009. Ralph’s book, Speed, Style, and Beauty says everything in three words about the powerful link between high end automotive design and luxury. Working with Ralph Lauren’s team was another step change lifting us up into the world of luxury. Just like Ferrari there is a passionate belief in the original and genuine values of the brand within Ralph Lauren’s team. It’s so refreshing to work with people who totally believe in quality of design and material. It’s a great partnership that we continue to build.
With how many clients, on average, do you work on a regular basis?
In terms of unique one-off models we probably have around 50 clients in total with only two or three projects in hand at any one time.
Regarding bespoke models we make around 250 1:8 models a year, and perhaps 50 of those are for repeat customers.
Without revealing any secrets, can you share any of your business data? For example, on average, how many models do you sell; how expensive it is to run such a unique business; and what is your annual net income?
We build around 120 1:8 models a month, across as many as 20 different types of model each month, in batches of 5 of each project.
Because of the small number of pieces we make, and the huge number of hours required to develop and then build each model, the business is expensive to run and even though our selling prices are significant it generates very modest margins. We make enough to invest and develop the business steadily year on year, but no one is getting rich! It continues to be a business that relies on passion and consistent hard work to succeed.
How has COVID impacted your business?
Covid has had a mixed effect on the business. It definitely blew a hole in our business plan for 2020, particularly took a bite out of the expected sales to resellers and to car manufacturers, but on the other hand we saw a very big uplift (around 225%) in our online sales from March 2020. That dropped back a bit as things normalized in 2021 and went up again in the pre-holiday period.
What kind of difficulties has your business encountered and are there any lessons learned that you would like to talk about?
We had a tough time financially from 2014 through to 2018 prior to becoming a part of the Motorsport Network and bringing on board a world class Sales Director, CFO and CEO to take the business to a new level. We now have a leadership team that matches the quality of the Amalgam brand and the models we create.
To finish this interview, what business accomplishments are you most proud of and do you have any success stories to share with our readers?
I’m most proud of creating a brand that has escaped the traditional model car market and has become loved, respected, and fully established in the world of Formula 1 and high-end luxury sports cars. Modelmaking is indeed an ancient art, but regarding model cars in the second half of the 20th century it had sunk to a very low level and had become confused with mass produced diecast toys. We have re-established the magical art of capturing something unique, beautiful, and complex at a reduced scale. Of times that process distils and concentrates the essential nature of the original, strangely making it more potent in some ways! That positioning has given us the opportunity to capture some of the 20th centuries most beautiful car designs, many of them in Ralph Lauren’s collection. That has been a hugely successful and rewarding adventure.
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