From its founding in Southern California in 1972 under the leadership of Woody Harrah, Pacesetter Exhaust has evolved, always meeting the needs of customers involved in performance exhaust and emission controls.
Joe Lee, Pacesetter’s sales manager and an 18-year veteran of the company, said Harrah’s start in the manufacture of exhaust components included mufflers, pre-bent pipe, tips and hardware – very common products today, but back then some were hard to find. Pacesetter’s unique Monza bolt-on exhaust and its Monza tips, known for their flat-black paint, yellow stripe and chrome ends soon became one of the company’s trademarks. Another milestone was Harrah’s introduction of import headers before the foreign performance craze even began to hit the United States.

“What is amazing is that we are one of the few early-on exhaust companies that is still led by the original owner,” Lee said. “Most of the other exhaust manufacturer founders have moved on.”
Pacesetter’s move from Los Angeles to Phoenix in the early ’90s was another major milestone for the company, Lee said, because it put them on the path to manufacturing all of the company’s products in the USA, giving them more options for quality control and vehicle-applications testing, said Glenn Cox, Pacesetter general manager.
“The header side of the business, up until five or six years ago, was the primary focus at Pacesetter,” he said. “I can tell you that since the company moved to Arizona the quality of all of our products has improved dramatically. Before that, not everything was made in the states. Now everything is made right here in Phoenix. The flanges for the headers are CNC (computer numerically controlled) machined. Some of them are plasma cut and then CNC machined; all of the direct-fit manifold converter flanges are produced the same way. Lee noted that Pacesetter’s main manufacturing and warehouse facility encompasses 65,000-square feet. Another nearby 15,000 square-foot facility houses CNC machining operations and CNC plasma-cutting machines. 

Catalytic Converters

“About five or six years ago we were asked by a major manufacturer of direct-fit catalytic converters to see if we could help them solve some of their production problems. We started manufacturing converters in our Phoenix facility for them, and since that time we have branched out to making our own line and have also picked up other major suppliers in that marketplace,” Lee said. “We see the main growth potential for the company focusing on catalytic-converter development, mainly because of the number of applications we have now. We have a goal of greatly expanding that product line this year and in the future.

“What may be different from other companies is that Pacesetter is not only looking at the fastest moving numbers, but we are also looking at popular segments.” For example, Cox said Pacesetter has completed a large segment of Jeep direct-fit catalytic converters.
“We have everything from Jeep Liberties and Grand Cherokees to Wranglers. The segment being tackled after that is going to be Nissan. We’re also looking at Volkswagen, KIA and Hyundai to be part of our growth in that area,” Cox said.
“We anticipate that once we expand the catalytic-converter line it will open even more doors for us.

“All of our catalytic converter numbers are federal EPA-approved,” Cox said, and Pacesetter is now an “approved” catalytic-converter manufacturer in accordance with EPA guidelines and procedures.  That means we will be able to make just about every catalytic converter we use in our Phoenix plant.
Lee said that Pacesetter already has what he calls a “slim line” of 50-state-legal undercar catalytic converters that meet CARB certification. It does not include manifold converters at this time.
“Since we are manufacturing cats now it should make things a little easier for us when it comes to being CARB-compliant for manifold cats as well,” Lee said.
Warehouse distributors who buy converters from Pacesetter are increasing, Lee said, noting that part of the reason is the well-known Pacesetter name.

But he added that many are buying because they want a quality-made product that is affordable. I think that is what a lot of the people are looking for.
We do get a lot of positive feedback from our distributors and dealers.
Besides the distributors and dealers that are stocking it, we have a number of customers who we drop ship to on a daily basis from anywhere from a dozen to 20 direct-fit catalytic converters a day.
“Another plus that Pacesetter has is that our direct-fit catalytic-converter line tubing is made of stainless steel,” Lee said. “Some of the other people in the business are using aluminized tubing. We think stainless is better even though it’s just a little more expensive. We believe we are building a very high-quality part.
“We’ve become more competitive because we are no longer forced to outsource products that are pre-made. We are making them ourselves,” Lee said.
“We’re rolling the canisters and we’re loading the substrates. So, there is less expense for us, as well as being a full-manufacturing facility. We manufacture just about everything in-house that is used on these units – anything from the flanges to emissions fittings, to stand-offs for the heat shields. This allows us to be more competitively priced.”

Although Pacesetter adds new header applications on a regular basis, Lee noted that there are still a substantial number classic European imports in existence that require replacement parts from time to time.
“We still make headers for MGs and Triumphs, and we go back to a 1958 MG. A minimum run around here is 50 parts and I recently saw an MG order go out to production for 150 parts. We also make other unique headers that are hard to find.”
Lee said the Pacesetter’s shorty header line has been expanded greatly and more and more of the applications now have executive order (EO) numbers from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) making them 50 states legal.
“We’ve also made several long-tube headers for many of the later-model vehicles that are doing quite well. The shorty and long tube headers are available in mild steel, painted black, although many motorists prefer to upgrade to the Pacesetter polished ARMOR*Coat ceramic-coated headers.”

Catback & Rear Exhaust
Performance exhaust still plays a major role at Pacesetter. The company’s popular direct-fit Monza catback and rear performance exhaust systems are designed for a number of European, Asian and domestic sport-compact vehicles, Cox said, while the TFX performance catback systems are designed for several models of Jeeps and Toyota pickups.
Seeking New Customers
Pacesetter sells the majority of its exhaust products through warehouse distributors and continues to seek reputable outlets throughout North America, Cox said. “We’re constantly looking for new distributors and dealers. We also manufacture private-label direct-fit catalytic converters, headers and systems as proprietary parts for other manufacturers. Pacesetter is open to any opportunity where high-quality and affordable parts are currently needed.”

IT Assistance

“Once a distributor has signed up with us, we can help them get their website ordering system set up virtually overnight if they have an IT guy on their side,” Cox said.

“We have the capabilities with Joe Reischsfeld, our IT manager, of providing data through Direct Communications Inc. (DCI), a provider for ACES (Auto Care Association Catalog Enhanced Standard) and PIES (The Product Information Exchange Standard), or we can do it ourselves. We can provide a search widget if they want to use it selling our parts. Joe has built several make, model and year search sites as self-contained units.

“We can provide enough information to a new reseller for them to go up and be online right away,” Reichsfeld said. “Descriptions, high-resolution images, fliers, marketing material, and we have a search engine to point to their product pages. I can give them a full database that they can just post.

We do load sheets for multiple companies every day. We distribute inventories over FTP sites through the internet every day. We have several sites where we have had product and they didn’t have an adequate search system set up so we built the search engine for them for our product. If they have a web person on their end who is savvy enough to plug stuff in, that’s all it is, spreadsheets, moving one column to another. You can go on overnight and be ready to sell.

“The personal touch that Pacesetter offers, provides our distributors and the shops that install the products a big advantage,” Lee said.

Pacesetter Performance Products
2841 W. Claredon Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85017
602-266-1864 x501