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The premise that hatched Wuzup Graphic Headliners is perhaps a million-dollar idea, but its founder wants to keep the new company’s growth under control.
“I’m a one-on-one person. That’s how I like to operate,” said Tom Heaton, whose company customizes interior vehicle roofs with graphics. “I don’t want this to get to the point that I don’t get to work with my customers one-on-one.”
The process of customizing vehicle headliners doesn’t sound complicated, but Heaton found early on that it can be.
“When my own headliner was falling down, I thought, 'Wouldn’t it be kind of cool if I had dogs playing poker up there?’” he said. “It took me about a year of doing R&D to get this right.”
Car manufacturers don’t provide headliner specifications, which complicated the process for Heaton.
“I tell customers they have to measure out their whole headliner. But not all interior roofs are smooth dome-shapes, so I recommend taking masking tape and sticking it up there so you can draw little marks and record all the curvatures,” he said.
Customers submit their own graphics, and Heaton—who has a background in large-format offset printing—takes it from there, using UV-curable inks for his printing process.
“I take the file, print it on headliner suede material, and ship it,” he said. “The hardest part for customers is the design aspect. They don’t know what they want to do. It’s like getting a tattoo—you go with whatever your poison is—but it’s not permanent like a tattoo.
Wuzup Graphic Headliners has enjoyed modest success thus far, including three project vehicles headed to the SEMA Show that are lined up for custom headliners.
“We just murdered out a Lexus two weeks ago and it turned out so awesome,” Heaton said. “For the headliner, we added the Lexus 'L' logo, embossed it, and the owner used black wood paneling for the Lexus graphics. He ended up taking second place at a car show among 126 vehicles.
“These car enthusiasts get so excited about the custom headliners that I can’t help but get excited about it.”