Entrepreneur Spotlight: Vintage Porsche Master Marc Zurlinden | Zurlinden Gruppe
Marc Zurlinden is the vintage Porsche master and has spent his life learning the ins and outs of his niche in the automotive and manufacturing industries. He dreams big, and he delivers. It was a joy to speak with Marc recently about what we can look out for in the future of Zurlinden Gruppe and reflect on our partnership. Here’s what Marc had to say:
Tell us how you got your start in this field.
My career started when I was a kid with my innate desire to create and build something. My dad was a mechanic as a nights and weekends thing, and I always wanted to go into his shop and make bicycle frames and go-karts – things that related to me and were inspired by the race cars in his shop. I drove my dad crazy with all the projects. When I was in college, my dad started a packaging machinery company, and I went to work for him right out of school. At the time, we were selling other people’s products. After working for him and with his customers, I started seeing that there were problems we could solve with new ideas. This gave me my first opportunity to innovate.
How did you decide to found Zurlinden Gruppe? What did that look like?
My dad and I built packaging machinery, but I had always had a passion for cars. In 2006 I had my first opportunity to build a vintage Porsche for a client. As we were building the car, we got some notoriety and were invited to the Porsche Rennsport Reunion, a prestigious event that, at the time, was held in Daytona, FL. We came out, and we debuted with that car and met some new friends, and that has really served as a basis as we’ve continued on. Folks really liked that car and started asking me to build more – y’know, one thing leads to another. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve met some fantastic customers that have forwarded me great projects, allowing me to learn how to build these cars and gain some more profile and notoriety as a business.
In a nutshell, what is Zurlinden Gruppe’s mission?
For me, it’s about two things: it’s about learning, and it’s about creativity. It’s with these two things I hope we become a world-famous modern boutique coach builder.
Can you explain what you do to someone who is not a car enthusiast?
We’re building cars, but not because anybody needs them. These cars are a Rolex watch, they’re an Italian suit, they’re a bespoke dress. As for the novice buyer, this is your opportunity to have something that’s totally built to your style and taste, your opportunity to have us deliver you a car that is perfect in every way–the way the factory built it and better. And it’s a carte blanche kind of menu – we include these performance enhancements, we include these cabin feature enhancements, these ride quality enhancements. Whether our client is a racecar driver, a hobbyist or a novice, depending on how they answer our questions, we go deeper and deeper.
What makes what you do unique from other custom builders?
It’s our aesthetic. It’s our quality. It’s our approachability. We’re very traditional. Some of the other brands that are out there–many that I admire—their aesthetic is more like Lamborghini. We feel very rooted to what the Porsche factory did in the fifties and sixties and seventies, but we’re taking that history and pushing it into the things that keep cars relevant today. And we’re not a brand that ignores every phone call if it doesn’t come with a reference. We pick up the phone, and we really work with you. Every project is for that person, no one else.
What exactly is Project Gruppe 6?
Project Gruppe 6 is our continuation of Porsche’s air-cooled series 911 that is 100% our own aesthetic, our own ideas and narrative that continues where the factory left off in 1998 with the 993 series. It’s a full carbon fiber body. It’s a brand new interior. It’s a number of things to enhance the drive train–most notably we’ll be incorporating the famous PDK transmission out of the later series cars, as well as programmable suspension. There’ll be a lot of other electronic enhancements, such as adding parking sensors, video cameras and Bluetooth capability. We’re not going to go too overboard but will include things that people expect to have in a car that costs half a million dollars. Project Gruppe 6 is a big step for us, but it’s just the beginning.
How has Bagchi Law helped Zurlinden Gruppe?
Building machinery and cars is what wakes me up every day, but a successful business is not made of beautiful cars alone. Neil and his team have helped me understand the importance of a solid business structure and how it can help my business thrive. The Bagchi team has been at my side developing strategies around the unique needs of this artisan production industry, helping me ensure satisfaction for the exacting and discerning elite clientele we serve. Not one bit of this business is simple, so Neil’s partnership and support have been invaluable.
What has Bagchi Law’s support meant to you and your company?
Outside of my loving family, my company and these cars are my life. I pour every ounce of myself into these Porsches. So I put a lot of value–and, ultimately, trust–in those I choose to work with. Simply put: my company wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Bagchi Law. Their support means everything to me. Neil and his team have helped me develop a company strong enough to attract the most talented individuals I have ever had the fortune of working with. Bagchi Law was paramount in helping me build that foundation, and they’re with me today watching Zurlinden Gruppe grow.
What are some of the short and long-term goals that you are most excited about for your company?
The plan is that we complete our Gruppe 6 design and debut the car early next year. It’s a little later than I’d hoped, but inspiration finds its own way and good art takes time. I think the world is going to fall in love with it – why wouldn’t they? It’s where the factory left off and better. I’d like to produce about fifteen to twenty of these cars a year over the next three years, and at the end of those three years, I want to debut another design. I think the game now is to keep coming up with new, innovative designs. That’s the key to the people on my staff – these are people that really contribute to that creativity and to that process. They keep that ball rolling for me. That’s where I see us going long-term. This is just the first of many designs.
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