Daniel Covarrubias’ SEKRIT Manufacturing
In the tuning community, the name “Killagram” is instantly recognizable. What some people don’t know is that behind the massive name, there’s a regular guy named Daniel Covarrubias, who’s skipping meals and sleep to put his dreams to work. When he told us he was launching a design/manufacturing company, with his infamous chassis-mount wings serving as the basis, we were pretty stoked. So, we held him hostage for a while and got him to answer some questions about how he’s
making the transition from show goer to parts thrower.
MICKY SLINGER: So far, you’ve had a very successful career in the automotive industry. As a car enthusiast, what made you want to get into the manufacturing side of things? DANIEL COVARRUBIAS: Essentially, I could never buy what I was looking for. That’s what it comes down to. I wasn’t necessarily wanting to start a brand or anything like that, I just wanted the parts for my car.
It’s all a coincidence. People managed to like what I was building and we just decided to go for it. I saw an opportunity, growth, a lot of things. It’s pretty much down to the partnerships that we’ve developed within the last year who have helped get us to where we are today.
I’m not saying I’m anywhere close to where I want to be, but I think we are able to actually make something successful out of it. What made it possible for you to launch an endeavor like this - essentially taking on your own brand, your own manufacturing company? I would say it’s not exactly a manufacturing company. We are something like a design firm because we want to build everything. We even have a whole other side planned that’s not automotive related. If I wasn’t into cars, it would be pursuing architectural and product design.
The partnerships we've developed within the last year have really helped us get to where we are today. What’s the meaning behind the name? It’s spelled unusually and you’re using accents over some of the letters. Is there a reason for it being like that, or is just a stylistic choice? Why SEKRIT? For SEKRIT, the main thing behind it is the fact that we just want to build something original and unique. Obviously, that’s the goal with every brand. A huge thing for me is a quote I live by – I’ve told you before – “you can’t influence the world by trying to be like it.” If you look “secret” up in the dictionary, this is the phonetic pronunciation of the word. That’s just how I saw it.
We want to do different things and have a unique style. I’ve noticed that a lot of people actually have the same vision as we do, but in the end, I really feel people are just scared to actually pursue it because they are too worried about other people’s opinions. It’s just an opinion. I don’t want to have anybody slow me down.
I WOULD SAY IT’S NOT EXACTLY A MANUFACTURING COMPANY. WE ARE SOMETHING LIKE A DESIGN FIRM BECAUSE WE WANT TO BUILD EVERYTHING.
What is your end goal, or somewhere that you’ll be happy to see yourself, down the road with SEKRIT? With SEKRIT, we really want to create high-quality, original product and really support our partners. We want to integrate other people’s products as well, because honestly, they’re the ones that made this possible.
I want to build a relationship with these people. I’m not just here to make money. That’s why I say this is a movement. It’s not just a brand or a company trying to find where there’s a market and make a ton of money. I want to support our youth and everyone else and be able to push them further. To me, it’s not a competition; I want us all to make it. One of your products that you’re very well known for is your chassis-mount GT wing. When you made that first one for your car, did you always have it in mind that you were going to be making more at some point? Not exactly. I knew we were going to revise my personal chassismount GT wing. Our first one was an inch and three-quarters taller, eighth inch thinner, and two inches further back from the car. We actually switched to 6061 aluminum with our second version and we noticed that there was a little bit of shaking. It wasn’t excessive, but it wasn’t perfect, so we brought it down an inch and three-quarters, made it an eighth inch thicker and pushed it in two inches closer to the car. Now it doesn’t even need trunk support, so we don’t have any braces going to the rear anymore.
There was demand for the wing. Many of my buddies brought it up and said, “Let’s just do it,” so we tried a few out. Now we have five in Southern California. There’s going to be, shortly, another one in Canada, which will be sweet. I like to install the wings personally and build that relationship and let them know it means more to me.
I’m not going to be making a whole lot of these things. We’re probably going to make a couple more and then wrap it up with a new design and new applications. What other products do you have in the works for SEKRIT right now? Why did you choose those specifically? We’re developing a full exhaust system for the ZN6 (FR-S and BRZ) chassis right now. We just finished the headers and we’re developing our axle-back right now. We’re actually deciding on exactly what material to keep them. Right now, they’re all stainless, but we’re actually thinking of going full titanium. For me, it’s all about quality, and I would rather sell a few titanium ones than a 1,000 stainless ones, just because I don’t want anything on my car or other people’s cars other than the best.
We’re eventually going to be doing chassis braces, full bolt-in cages, shifters, wheels, steering wheels - pretty much everything that you use on a regular basis, so you can get the best quality that you possibly can everywhere throughout your car.
The plan is to -- within the next three years -- switch the focus to BMWs. I am huge BMW fan. I’ll never forget my roots and where I came from with the ZN6 chassis and S13. Of course, we’re going to be doing more of that stuff, but within the next few years, we would like SEKRIT to be manufacturing a lot of BMW products.
WE’RE EVENTUALLY GOING
TO BE DOING CHASSIS BRACES, FULL BOLT-IN CAGES, SHIFTERS, WHEELS,
STEERING WHEELS - PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING
THAT YOU USE ON A REGULAR BASIS, SO YOU CAN GET THE BEST QUALITY THAT YOU POSSIBLY CAN EVERYWHERE THROUGHOUT
Are there going to be any other platforms, like the S-chassis and ZN6, that you’ll focus on between now and then? Yeah! On top of the ZN6 and S13, we'll be doing some S14 stuff, BMW stuff, we're going to be working on a 2015 STI and some S2K stuff.
Why don’t you take me through your creative process? How do you start with an idea for a part and eventually physically produce it? I normally sketch my designs on some graph paper, which then leads to rendering those designs in Photoshop. Then we mock some stuff in styrofoam. We just stay creative and start marking some stuff up. Then it gets put into solid works and then we get it machined. It's not all about what I like; we try to get a group of suggestions so we can please everyone as well. We don't have too many products right now to please everybody, but it's in the works.
JUST STAY HUMBLE. DON’T FORGET WHO YOU ARE, WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS AND DON’T DO IT FOR MORE MONEY.
Is there any advice that you’d like to share with a budding automotive entrepreneur out there? A lot of people ask me, “How are you doing what you're doing? What made you be able to do this stuff?” Honestly, it all comes down to building relationships naturally.
I have this thing about me that whenever somebody needs help with something, I'm always like, “Yeah, let's do it,” before I even think about how much time I have to do it. But it's those relationships and the people that I've sacrificed my time for that allowed NAMEme to do IF what THERE I'm IS doing ONE now. There are a lot of guys that help me out with the product. It's not a sponsorship to me; it's a partnership. I'm going to help you just as equally as you're going to help me.
Just stay humble. Don't forget who you are, why you're doing this and don't do it for more money. You need to figure out what your goal is and see if it's possible to turn your hobby into a career.
Never strive for instant gratification. Always invest in the long-term outcome because that's what will honestly make you successful. We weren't born to just pay bills and die. We are here to live a life, and we all choose what we make of it. The moment people stop comparing, is the moment they will realize comparison kills creativity. Almost always, the creative and dedicated minority has made the world a better place.