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    • The tuning world is unforgiving and rough, HPF closes its doors. R.I.P. Horsepower Freaks

      Sad, sad day indeed for the BMW community. The aftermarket tuning game is not an easy one. Especially when it comes to BMW's these days with ever increasing sophistication of their electronics and BMW doing everything in their power to prevent modification. Thankfully, there are some companies that simply do not give up and do what many say can't be done. For quite a while on the E46 M3 platform, HPF was forging ahead into territory nobody else was willing to tackle.


      The S54 engine in the BMW E46 M3 early on had a reputation of being made out of glass due to bearing failures. People said stock motors could not hold together let alone forced induction examples. This was quickly dispelled as the motor more and more often showed incredible gains with forced induction. HPF themselves pushed the motor to over 700 wheel on stock internals. Recently, people have been doing in the high 6XX wheel range on stock internals as if it no sweat.

      Basically, HPF helped pioneer the turbo market for the E46 M3. There are new options coming just now (over a decade after the car hit the market) which goes to show just how difficult it is to do this. HPF had options to turbo the E46 M3 when nobody else had options to turbo the E46 M3. They were the main game in town and deserve respect for it. But... even the mighty can fall and a single platform can not sustain anyone forever.

      Unfortunately an employee stole from HPF something over $200k (who knows what the real amount truly is and just how much he got away with) and unfortunately Chris made a poor choice with his new insurance company who only covered $25k in theft. The insurance company and HPF went to court and HPF lost. BimmerBoost is somewhat surprised a quarter million can sink a ship of this size but clearly there were other issues at play.

      Whether one wants to put the blame on the owner Chris or not it's hard to say what frivolous spending might have gone on. Chris did reach a high point in the BMW tuning market in the USA and nobody can take that away from him. Numerous magazine spreads, hundreds of turbo kits sold, and a household name on BMW forums. That deserves respect and is a level few can or will reach.

      Sustaining that is another thing entirely though. Busty young women don't come cheap. Dedicated drag cars for forum boasting aren't cheap. There is a reason rockstars tend to burn out fast. Is that what happened here? In retrospect it's easy to say this and that should have been done instead but Chris also did get somewhat of a second chance with a forum member investing cash into the company recently.

      Unfortunately, it seems that amount was not enough and now the doors are closed and people are laid off. What will happen to current orders? Members on this site are waiting for their parts. What will happen to the cars still there? Some have been removed, some remain. What will happen to Chris Bergermann? Is this it? Not going to be easy to climb back up after already being at the top of a platform for quite some time with little capital to work with and he certainly isn't getting younger.

      I for one want to thank HPF for their support. Chris was always kind to me, always supportive, and always wished me well. He always wanted me to succeed and I wasn't even a customer of his. To him I was just some random kid building a forum. I did an interview with Chris back in 2010: http://www.germanboost.com/content.php?426-BimmerBoost-Interview-with-Chris-Bergermann-Owner-of-Horsepower-Freaks

      I suggest any interested party take a look or listen to it (audio is posted). It shows how far HPF came in just 9 years at the time of the interview.

      I wish you well Chris, I wish all your employees well, and I hope you move on positively. It's a rough and cuthroat business. When you are on top, people just want to tear you down. It's easy for people to talk down sitting comfortably behind their monitor without realizing how many peoples lives this affects. Hopefully there is a learning lesson here that makes everyone stronger and hopefully nobody is going to bed hungry at night as a result of this. You'll land on your feet Chris. Good luck and thank you, from BimmerBoost.

      This article was originally published in forum thread: HorsePowerFreaks is apparently closing its doors started by folgrz View original post
      Comments 266 Comments
      1. ajsalida's Avatar
        ajsalida -
        Anybody waiting on parts or orders placed by credit card ought to get on the phone ASAP to their card companies and flag the charge. Depending on what your card is you may not have to pay anything. This is true even for invoices/balances you've paid off. Eg my card is like 60 days post charge to dispute something and I have been successful in getting charges reversed when something was not shipped or was seriously misrepresented.

        All this means is they look into it and for example if it clearly was never shipped and never will be they waive the charge or credit you back if you've already paid the statement it appeared on.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        I have no clue who they were suing or what exactly they were in court for. I'm trying to figure it all out ill post back here if I find anything out.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        On a side note, are they going to have some kind of blowout sale cause I want some exhaust tips.
      1. ajsalida's Avatar
        ajsalida -
        Somebody on the other forum was just successful getting charges reversed on a weeks-overdue parts order via their card company, anybody else with outstanding parts orders ought to get on this immediately...
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        sounds like the guy that gave them his 335 is SOL and out a of money. He has all the hardware on it but it sounds like a tuning issue. He is going to contact shiv to try and get things worked out. Also I heard that the cars were all sent back but according to him it sounds like his car is still there (im not 100% on that I just know its not back in his possession)
      1. Sered's Avatar
        Sered -
        Reminds me of John Hennessy.

        Hennessy became synonymous for Hennescrewed due to their screwing over of customers.
        HPF shall become synonymous for HorsePowerFucked due to their $#@!ing over their investors and customers
      1. StinkyM's Avatar
        StinkyM -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by ajsalida Click here to enlarge
        I don't understand who they were expecting to get money from in a court case for employee theft. Who were they suing, Insurance? something isn't making sense if their policy covered 25k that is pretty unambiguous. Plus they had to be operating in a $200k hole for 2 years, + legal fees, so what they got a bridge loan on an anticipated settlement?

        I have no experience with them but I did raise an eyebrow watching the whole e9x single turbo kit fiasco unfold. So this was going on the whole time behind the scenes? I hope all the customers with outstanding orders/deposits get treated well here.
        I found more information on E46f. They were suing the insurance company. What happened was the insurance provider changed, and in that change, they dropped their coverage from $250,000 to $25,000. Chris never saw the change, and in turn, sued the Insurance company. Low and behold, from the sounds of it, the Insurance company won and Chris only gets $25,000.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by StinkyM Click here to enlarge
        I found more information on E46f. They were suing the insurance company. What happened was the insurance provider changed, and in that change, they dropped their coverage from $250,000 to $25,000. Chris never saw the change, and in turn, sued the Insurance company. Low and behold, from the sounds of it, the Insurance company won and Chris only gets $25,000.
        They didn't do it on purpose. They had no clue this was going to happen.
      1. ajsalida's Avatar
        ajsalida -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        They didn't do it on purpose. They had no clue this was going to happen.
        Still not clear, though I guess that is to be expected. Seems the employee theft was discovered 2 years ago, the actual loss even farther back than that. So the hole in the cash flow was papered over by something (loan, whatever). Point is the loss was not taken/recognized until yesterday I guess. Now via some accounting magic/BK declaration they do not have to pay back whoever lent them the money to withstand the original loss. Otherwise they could not have operated til now. Someone else is getting screwed out of 200k or whatever was needed to bandage over that original loss + legal fees etc. that the anticipated award was going to cover.
      1. LostMarine's Avatar
        LostMarine -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by inlineS54B32 Click here to enlarge
        I am going to be honest about this (re: Online sales). I was ordering brake pads (just the pads - nothing else) for my M3 - and decided to order them from HPF. This was about 3-4 months back. I live in Chicago - basically, they said I needed to fax them a copy of my license to order a set of pads (total cost was like 200 bucks - in other words, nothing).

        It was very odd to me that a company like this would do something like this. I understand it's important to ensure that people are not using other people's information, but this was over the top. I had a feeling something was up at this point, and didn't have the time to fax this information over - and ordered from someone else.

        Anyone else run into this? Curious if someone was screwing with me, or if stuff like this happened all the time.

        I really liked HPF, and have always wanted an older M3 with their kit. Damn shame.
        a lot of places want to see your ID for shipping reasons. It reduces fake claims.
      1. jbfrancis3's Avatar
        jbfrancis3 -
        Let's be honest, the insurance lawsuit is a red herring.

        In managing a business, the fixed costs are key. HPFBrandon, on another forum back in 2011, quoted the facility at 21,000 sqft, 13 staff, and showed pictures of kinds of equipment and furniture throughout the shop. Each and every month, they will have costs to "keep the lights on" consisting of the facility, lets assume a bare minimum of 5 full time staff, and the equipment depreciation costs, just to name a few of the big movers.

        Let's also assume that annual rent in Portland is $12/sqft, or $1/sqft/month. Total rent each month would then $21,000. Let's also assume 5 ppl at an average annual salary of $40k. Total labor costs each month (not including ANY overhead) is $17,000. Then there's equipment depreciation and/or leasing. If we assumed HFP purchased $250k of equipment, and assumed they could get 10 yrs out it, that's a monthly depreciation charge of $2000-3000. Figure higher if they lease everything.

        So, total monthly FIXED costs before they perform any work on customer cars, or do any marketing efforts, is $40,000. That hits each and every month, not matter what, and I even think my estimates are low. This "recovering of $200k" money owed to would cover only 5 months of fixed costs which is a razor-thin margin, especially considering the $200k was actually a period cost several years ago.
      1. G0TB00ST?'s Avatar
        G0TB00ST? -
        The one getting screwed is the guy that invested a $#@! ton of money to keep them afloat (I don't remember his name). Apparently he got the rights to the turbo kit and all assets as a result...
      1. ccsykes's Avatar
        ccsykes -
        If I had to guess, the loss of J.P. was the turning point. Once they lost their engineer, they lost their ability to develop new products. They then continued to pour money into marketing a product that had declining sales. The result was HPF, through a lack of product diversification, lost market share.
      1. Remonster's Avatar
        Remonster -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by ajsalida Click here to enlarge
        Anybody waiting on parts or orders placed by credit card ought to get on the phone ASAP to their card companies and flag the charge. Depending on what your card is you may not have to pay anything. This is true even for invoices/balances you've paid off. Eg my card is like 60 days post charge to dispute something and I have been successful in getting charges reversed when something was not shipped or was seriously misrepresented.

        All this means is they look into it and for example if it clearly was never shipped and never will be they waive the charge or credit you back if you've already paid the statement it appeared on.
        This advice needs more visibility for any HPF customers who may have money on the line, your credit card provider will almost certainly protect you in this case.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by cstavaru Click here to enlarge
        One company that has my admiration on how they are moving with the market is BMS. They just buy cars with the newest engines out of the profit from the old engines tuning instead of begging for customers to bring in cars and play guinea pigs for them.
        BMS investment product line has nowhere near the complexity or investment as an E46 M3 turbo kit setup with built motor options. Piggyback versus $30k+ setup? Come on.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by ajsalida Click here to enlarge
        I don't understand who they were expecting to get money from in a court case for employee theft. Who were they suing, Insurance? something isn't making sense if their policy covered 25k that is pretty unambiguous. Plus they had to be operating in a $200k hole for 2 years, + legal fees, so what they got a bridge loan on an anticipated settlement?

        I have no experience with them but I did raise an eyebrow watching the whole e9x single turbo kit fiasco unfold. So this was going on the whole time behind the scenes? I hope all the customers with outstanding orders/deposits get treated well here.
        I think they were trying to get the full amount stolen from the insurance but I guess Chris missed the fine print on the new policy.
      1. 0-60Motorsports's Avatar
        0-60Motorsports -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I think they were trying to get the full amount stolen from the insurance but I guess Chris missed the fine print on the new policy.
        That is correct
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sered Click here to enlarge
        Reminds me of John Hennessy.

        Hennessy became synonymous for Hennescrewed due to their screwing over of customers.
        HPF shall become synonymous for HorsePowerFucked due to their $#@!ing over their investors and customers
        Whoa there not even remotely the same thing.

        HPF didn't try to generate money by selling off parts from customer cars or asking customers to send blank checks for Stage infinity cars that were never going to happen.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by G0TB00ST? Click here to enlarge
        They didn't do it on purpose. They had no clue this was going to happen.
        That's no excuse, it was ultimately his responsibility to notice this.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by jbfrancis3 Click here to enlarge
        Let's be honest, the insurance lawsuit is a red herring.

        In managing a business, the fixed costs are key. HPFBrandon, on another forum back in 2011, quoted the facility at 21,000 sqft, 13 staff, and showed pictures of kinds of equipment and furniture throughout the shop. Each and every month, they will have costs to "keep the lights on" consisting of the facility, lets assume a bare minimum of 5 full time staff, and the equipment depreciation costs, just to name a few of the big movers.

        Let's also assume that annual rent in Portland is $12/sqft, or $1/sqft/month. Total rent each month would then $21,000. Let's also assume 5 ppl at an average annual salary of $40k. Total labor costs each month (not including ANY overhead) is $17,000. Then there's equipment depreciation and/or leasing. If we assumed HFP purchased $250k of equipment, and assumed they could get 10 yrs out it, that's a monthly depreciation charge of $2000-3000. Figure higher if they lease everything.

        So, total monthly FIXED costs before they perform any work on customer cars, or do any marketing efforts, is $40,000. That hits each and every month, not matter what, and I even think my estimates are low. This "recovering of $200k" money owed to would cover only 5 months of fixed costs which is a razor-thin margin, especially considering the $200k was actually a period cost several years ago.
        This makes sense which why I'm surprised a spread out 1/4 million could sink them. I mean that's not chump change but it's also not even a 1/4 of what they had to be bringing in to even be solvent.