March 16, 2015
Chad Haas has used a modest garage to underscore the transformation that his VAULT® designed products can make to transform any space.
This article originally appeared in the magazine ‘Auto Aficionado’ and was written by Larry Crane, whose resume consists of positions with an all-star cast of motoring journals: Editor and designer, “Auto Aficionado;” Art Director, “Automobile Magazine;” Associate Art Director, “Road & Track;” Founder and Editor, “Vintage Racer” and Art Director, “Motor Trend.”
Chad Haas has used a modest garage to underscore the transformation that his VAULT® garage products can make quality service at maximum performance, delivered for a lifetime. That daunting statement has probably ignited more entrepreneurial fire than any other—and caused more failures in the attempt. The heat of that fire alone cannot generate enough energy to power through the challenges of a perfectionist’s vision. Leadership, mentorship, even spiritual guidance may not be as effective as the observed success of dogged determination.
VAULT® was founded because Chad Haas wanted to upgrade his garage and could find nothing worth the investment it would take to create what he wanted. His vision was the Ferrari of garage equipment, inspired by Fred Karl Jr., who founded Viking “Professional Performance for the Home.” Do we need big, iron, industrial-cooking equipment in our most beautiful home kitchens? Can I have one if I want one? Does it make me feel better when I’m cooking? Do my friends like to watch me use it? Now I need really deluxe cookware for my exotic new hardware—enter Chuck Williams who founded Williams Sonoma to gratify that need.
Karl and Williams kept Chad Haas chasing his dream even while he had serious questions about his intellect. He had left a great job with a terrific future in a century-old company to pursue a vision he wasn’t sure anybody else would even understand. VAULT® was founded three years ago, but most of the intervening time (up to 2007) has been spent designing the product lines to eliminate technical failure and searching out the best-quality American suppliers. His goal was to create something that would profoundly change the way we think about garages. In the last quarter of the last century we moved from the living room to the kitchen for entertaining and the “custom kitchen” became one of the most expensive and universal elements of a new home—followed quickly by bathrooms big enough and luxurious enough to live in. Now it’s garages.
When a new home is designed, the garage is the largest square footage under the roof with no billable architectural hours. It is simply a large empty space, the family warehouse and, if space permits, weatherproof car storage. In fact, the garage is the only space in a home that is regularly exposed to public scrutiny. And, curiously, it remains the least organized and most overtly at risk of tempting burglary.
I predict, in ten years or less, the garage will be as important to the character of the house as the kitchen—or the home theater. The second most-valuable investment for most families—and for all auto aficionados—is the car (or cars).
A VAULT® garage becomes a new social space for motorheads to hang out in. Why not make it comfortable and include a great cigar humidor, a fine wine cabinet and a carefully integrated fridge for your favorite exotic, micro-brewed Oregon beer. A complete installation can be planned with the home architect and owner, to be included in the home’s finance program.
Haas’ system is elegantly and effectively timeless. It will look as useful and beautiful in 50 to 100 years as it does the day the project is finished. “…must set a new standard, not just look good but perform best—indefinitely.” All the metal components are made of stainless steel and most of the visible surfaces are then powder coated, as “indefinitely” is the goal. The cabinets, designed to take commercial use, have a fine-home finish. Each drawer is constructed to support 250 pounds when fully extended, without upsetting the cabinet.
The framework includes stiffening gussets and flanges that will never be seen by the owner, but the result is the stiffest structure available in a cabinet finished like a fine piece of furniture. In fact, there are VAULT® cabinets in use as dining sideboards and dressing tables in elegant new homes around the country. There is at least one Craftsman-style home with VAULT® cabinets in the bedroom. At Pebble Beach RetroAuto a woman said, “It is the most beautiful piece of modern furniture I have ever seen.”
Quality is the raison d’être of everything in the VAULT® catalogs. Making the equipment last a lifetime was the target and making it beautiful quickly became part of that process. Most of the equipment beyond the cabinetry, designed and manufactured specifically for VAULT®, has been found in the tool industry. Upon adding the finishing-detail elements to the garage, all became part of this new way of thinking about where you keep your second, most-valuable asset. The lights, for example, are from Austria and are used by Rolls-Royce in its paint booths. Porcelain floor tiles are milled to fit together with no space to permit fluids in between. They are also glazed and fired to preclude any fluid or rubber stains. And, finally, BASF was asked to develop a fluid floor seal that was vastly superior to what it is currently delivering, without concern for cost. It was done.
There are now 35 options for the Pro Series cabinets and a dozen, listed colors. Custom colors are an option for a modest cost—and time—increase. Twelve of the Pro Series cabinets have been redesigned for the new Designer Series products. And the new Forged Series will add a third line and bring most of the units to within the reach of a broader range of clients.
The carriage-house doors are the finishing touch. They are handmade from the finest materials and look beautiful under the closest scrutiny. The design can also include matching doors throughout the home. The time it takes to construct the VAULT® custom system may risk the sale, but there will be no compromise in the quality of the manufacturing.
“It is better to lose a client than to deliver a product that is not worthy of the VAULT® guarantee.”
Haas’ long-term business plan includes an ambitious aspiration for all quality automotive-service centers to be outfitted with VAULT® installations. Like the singular visions of Karl and Williams, Haas’ idea is the first to marry fine cabinetry and utilitarian equipment for the guy’s room in the house. The VAULT® website: “vaultgarage.com” says it all.
Written by Larry Crane courtesy of Auto Aficionado magazine.