What a ride
Thirty years in this industry is quite a long time. In the beginning, calling it "an industry” was even a stretch. We’ve watched it grow from grassroots to global, and we’re honored from our humble roots to have remained a major driver of the evolution. Thanks for your interest and support along the way.
From passion to performance
I hung my shingle in 1991 over a rusty garage door and 100 square feet of single-bay space in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. I figured that since my interests at the time were VW water-cooled Mk2 GTIs and any air-cooled Volkswagen, it only made sense to call the company Air and Water Enterprises.
1993 brought my first employee, and our origins in repair and restoration gave way to adolescence in custom performance development. Our new 500 square foot facility down the alley from our first space gave us some room to seed a reputation for installing custom larger displacement engines with crazy camshafts, porting and polishing cylinder heads, swapping custom gearing and special differentials into transmissions, transplanting later model fuel injection systems in older chassis and a host of other tuning services.
As word of mouth for Air and Water Enterprises’ performance products spread outside of our community and into the region, it became my realization that our duty was to provide performance to a greater number of enthusiasts. It was time for Air and Water Enterprises to start growing – the quality was unmatched and the demand was increasing exponentially. We were selling performance. A lot of it.
Technology and more technology
The mid-90s brought the industry, and Air and Water Enterprises, online. Thanks to venues like GTI-VR6 listserv, the Corrado-Club of America, and several VW newsgroups, the Air and Water Enterprises name began to traverse the country. Through these new online channels, I came across a displaced California native with a passion for fuel injection chip tuning, named Garrett Lim. He had a little company called Garrett Integrated Automotive Corporation, which would later be abbreviated to “GIAC.” Air and Water Enterprises and GIAC formed an informal partnership, and we became the test facility for this new breed of tuning technology. The reputation of Air and Water Enterprises grew wildly by being the first official GIAC dealer. Early successes and partnerships between our firms were publicized nationally, and a new industry was helped along into existence.
Abbreviation and expansion
The late-90s saw the elimination of all repair work, and a focus on the business of performance. Our name became AWE Tuning. In the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, we called a 2,500 square foot building home as we brought on a team to man customer service and global demand. At the same time, the Audi performance market was exploding thanks to the A4 1.8T. We became one of H&R Springs' first warehouse distributors in the U.S. Our first chassis dynamometer was installed in 1999, and some of the very first Audi fuel injection chips in the world were created by GIAC, in our shop, on our dyno. Bilstein and Borla dubbed us Warehouse Distributors, and we became the sole U.S. importer of Bailey Motorsport UK. We were expanding our website, developing our facility, and adding new equipment. By 2000, we had managed to double our revenues from the year before, and the AWE Tuning name was still accelerating. We already had a few of our own branded products such as short shifters and lighting kits, and it made sense to continue to expand our parts offerings with products made exactly to the standards we had honed over years of “being in the trenches.” By 2001 we were officially a “manufacturer” of engineered performance technology.
Movin' on up
By 2002, we had managed to create several new AWE Tuning products, including exhaust systems for the 2.7T Audi B5 S4, and it was time to enter the discerning Porsche market. Our fanatical commitment to quality standards made the most revered marque a comfortable next step for AWE Tuning. Success came quickly in the Porsche market. Our exhausts became the new benchmark in the U.S., and demand soon rivaled that of our Audi and Volkswagen performance products.
Success moved us again, this time to a 12,500 square foot facility just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Willow Grove. We were at the forefront of the VW, Audi, and Porsche tuning market. An AWD dyno test cell was created, and an installation facility was created as a paradise to anyone who has ever turned a wrench professionally. Our manufacturing process gained the square footage needed to allow a smooth and orderly flow for the production work that was now delivering almost 200 AWE Tuning branded products across the three automotive marques we served. AWE Tuning was gracing the pages of international automotive journals and forged the way for an entrance into McLaren, and then BMW.
More space. There is no substitute
As the demand for our manufactured lines grew exponentially, the next chapter was imminent. We needed to move into a more state-of-the-art headquarters that could properly serve our international dealer base as well as provide the canvas for our engineering and fabrication teams to produce at the rate and quality level that we demand of ourselves. Enter AWE Tuning "5.0": a 33,000 square foot facility on a multi-acre plot featuring cutting-edge robotics, laser scanning CMMs, CNC bending machinery, inventory staging, five R&D lifts, and much more. High-performance nirvana. Which, as of July 2015, we call home.
The irony of being a made-in-America manufacturer that only services European vehicles was never lost on me. In 2017 we entered our largest market yet: Ford Mustang, starting another chapter in AWE’s growth (which also includes a gradual drop of the "tuning" part of our name!). Next, Ford Focus, a market that allowed us to stretch our “domestic” legs even more in the familiar hot hatch segment. In short order, we grew into bringing our unique blend of performance, quality, and sound to the Camaro market, the Subaru market, the Corvette market, the Mopar market, the Civic market, and we've now smashed through another barrier with our entrance into the growing offroad segment, with our successful Ford Raptor, F-150, Ranger, Jeep, Bronco, and RAM performance exhaust lines. And there’s more ahead.
I’d like to thank
At almost 900 part numbers strong, I’m honored and humbled that the AWE name has become synonymous with quality and customer service within the multi-billion dollar automotive aftermarket industry.
I’m one car-guy-turned-business-man, and without the unfailing commitment and enthusiasm of the AWE team, we would be nowhere (well, I’d be back in a one-bay garage in Philadelphia). Today we have a team of mechanical engineers, acoustic technicians, certified welders, metal fabricators, marketers, and managers, handpicked from some of the top corporations in the world. We couldn’t be where we are without them. And we couldn’t be where we are without you.
Thanks for visiting,
Todd Sager, President and CEO