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Custom Camo

After streamlining his production and dropping costs, an Alabama maker of camouflage for vehicles watched sales soar.

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Kelly Conklin, 48, paints custom camouflage patterns on all-terrain vehicles at his Birmingham, Ala. company. After streamlining production at his factory, Conklin received a boost in orders from his biggest client, Yamaha (Charts). Revenue for Conklin's Conversion Technologies (205-856-7561, no URL) will hit $5 million in 2007, up 60% over 2006.

Conklin launched Conversion ten years ago when he licensed technology to coat items in distinctive camouflage schemes. He focused on ATVs because they were popular with hunters and other outdoor-sports enthusiasts. Conklin's first shipment - 300 ATVs for Polaris Industries - sold out within one week. Kawasaki (Charts), Suzuki (Charts), and Yamaha soon signed on.

When his production costs rose in 2003, Conklin tried to raise prices. Yamaha countered by offering to improve his efficiency instead, sending its engineers to analyze Conklin's workshop. "They organized my production line like an operating room," he says. Conklin will paint about 30,000 vehicles in 2007. Next up: painting a camo-covered barbecue grill for a major outdoor-equipment manufacturer. Ribs, anyone?  To top of page

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