In 1999, Trey Cobb founded COBB Tuning to provide high performance components and services to the Subaru aftermarket. At the time, the words “Subaru” and “performance” were not something very many people in North America would ever consider using in the same sentence. Add the fact that the business was started with hardly any working capital, no outside investment, and operated out of the back of his father’s tire shop located in Texas and you can see how many people were predicting the business’s failure before it had even started.
By 2001, COBB Tuning had not only survived but was quickly earning the reputation as one of the premier Subaru performance shops in the country through innovation and success at the race track. The WRX model came to America in March, opening new doors and validating the decision for starting a performance business focused solely on Subaru vehicles. New business opportunities also meant growing pains as the still small company struggled to come to grips with success.
As the company entered its third year of business in 2002, it found itself at a crossroads. Earlier in 2001, COBB had entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with APS of Australia for North America. While working with APS proved beneficial on several accounts, it also significantly limited the company’s ability to continue its tradition of innovation and creativity. Furthermore, the company had outgrown its humble location and needed a new home.
At the end of 2002, COBB Tuning took a bold step to maintain the original intent of the company and ended its agreement with APS. In addition, it took another risky step by moving its entire operations from Texas up to a purpose built facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. The move to Salt Lake City represented the company’s desire to have a base of operations in an area that allows accessibility to the geographic and weather conditions necessary to fully test its products under a wide variety of conditions. The focus was once again on the research and development of products and testing them under both real world and racing conditions.
In 2003, much of the year was spent finalizing our cross-country move, re-organizing, and re-tooling the company for the future. New personel, new equipment, and new technology was the primary focus. The 12 month non-compete agreement left over from the APS distribution contract meant the company would be forced to focus on other avenues such as racing, development of new technology, and testing.
2004 ushered in a wave of new products and technology. The release of the Accessport, the first handheld ECU programming for Subaru models, enjoyed enormous success and rave reviews.
For 2005, we continued to grow our product offering as well as growing as a company. The Accessport is debuted to the Japanese market at the Tokyo Auto Salon and enjoys strong sales. By the end of 2005, the company was 20 employees strong, up from only 3 in 2003 during our restructuring. We also moved into a larger 20,000 sq ft facility to house our growing staff, equipment and inventory. A second AWD Dyno is also added.
For 2006, after a brief break from motorsports activities, we were involved in several new and exciting projects. A second service and dyno center opened at the new Miller Motorsports Park, a newly constructed 4.5 mile road course in Utah which won National recognition as the best road course in North America. The unveiling of our Supercharged B9 Tribeca project at the Rim of the World Rally raised a few eye brows and resulted in MotorTrend Magazine approaching us with a request to road test the vehicle, which appeared in the magazine a few months later. We also debuted our Limited Class Time Attack STi at the Rim of the World Rally. Running a select few events over the summer to dial in the car, we qualified for the Super Street Time Attack final. The final event of the year went well, with the car finishing in 5th place for the class. The car was also in a several page article in Modified Magazine. Near the end of the summer, we were happy to assist the GOTO racing team with their final few races of the season, which lead to some of their best results of the year. We attended SEMA again and debuted our Carbon Fiber Time Attack WRX. This car certainly raised more than a few eye brows and quickly became the star of the show. The only thing that could over shadow the new race car, would be the unveiling of the next generation Accessport. Complete with a full color screen, USB connectivity, and a host of new technology, we once again were able to show we are at the forefront of innovation!