‘We’re creating stars’: Milford auto parts shop tops 100,000 YouTube subscribers

Ben Marouski, left, and Michael Roselli with members of their multi-media production staff while holding the Youtube.com Silver Play award they recently received.

Ben Marouski, left, and Michael Roselli with members of their multi-media production staff while holding the Youtube.com Silver Play award they recently received.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — When customers purchase maintenance and repair parts for their car at FCP Euro, there’s a good chance an internet video star is filling their order.

FCP Euro was founded in 1986 in Groton and has been operating in Milford since 2015. The company recently surpassed 100,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel. As of Thursday, the number had passed 122,000.

Originally begun to help customers install their car parts, the channel has turned into a full production, according to Alex Frank, the company’s vice president of operations.

“We would do videos in back hallways of the warehouse, we would drive to people’s frozen garages over the weekend, and we would film do-it-yourself videos there,” Frank said. “It was never really intended to be a growth channel. it was intended to be a helpful channel.”

When Frank posted the company’s first few videos in 2011, the channel had 24 subscribers, he said. The company, then based in Groton, continued to film amateurish DIY videos as their subscriber base steadily grew.

“We did that from 2011 to around 2014, three years straight of doing that, shaking freezing cold under a car, it was humble beginnings,” said Frank.

The YouTube channel took over a year to grow from 24 to 1,000 subscribers, but once it hit that mark, the channel started to grow faster. Frank continued to be the only one managing the social media outlets and YouTube channel until subscriptions hit about 30,000, when the company decided the expand the team. FCP Euro added shooters, editors and scriptwriters, and began expanding their content.

“It’s not that we went away from what we were doing, we were still doing DIY content, but we were just finding other ways of creating entertaining and educational content,” said Benjamin Marouski, the digital content manager. “On top of the normal ‘Here’s how to do to this job,’ we started to look at how we could talk to more people at once and have a bigger reach.”

Some things, however, haven’t changed. The company’s employees still perform double-duty as video talent and presenters.

“They (the employees) started to realize what goes into the production,” said Frank. “They learned the difference between doing the work and explaining the work.”

Marouski said as the shooting got more complex, they would start feeding the presenters lines, and they realized that everyone wasn’t cut out for making videos. But some naturally talented team members excelled under the spotlight, he said.

As the channel kept on growing, the presenters have started to get recognized by customers. Employee Gareth Foley, one of the longest running presenters, was even asked for an autograph once when a customer came into the store and recognized him.

“We’re creating celebrities,” Frank said.

With production growing more sophisticated, the team now schedules their shoots weeks in advance, Marouski said.

“We know three weeks ahead what we are shooting every day of the week, who’s editing, the title, the descriptions, the SEO (search engine optimization) research, the catalog work is done,” said Marouski. “We have a set for our DIY videos. We have our set for our buyers guide. We have pre-production documents now and the thumbnails are very consistent now.”

Frank said the channel has continued to grow because they produce videos people want to watch, while still paying attention to SEO.

“If it’s an entertainment piece, we constantly ask ourselves what should we be telling people so they can understand these systems and their cars or how their car works or how the industry works,” said Frank.

Of course, despite all their research, it can still be a challenge to predict what people will watch, Frank said.

“Sometimes our audience really latched onto a video that we made,(and) sometimes we were really proud of the video but the audience just rejected it,” he said.

After nine years, Frank said he thought the company had figured out the best blend of instructional and entertainment content.

“Our content now has characters, entertainment, education. It’s easy to follow. It’s not more information than you need and not less than you want,” he said.

According to YouTube spokeswoman Veronica Navarrete, about 35,000 channels have more than 100,000 subscribers as of December 2020. With YouTube’s estimated 31 million channels, this means FCP Euro has more followers than about 99.9 percent of all the website’s channels.

But FCP Euro remains an auto parts store at heart. That means remaining focused on the reason they are making videos.

“If a video hits 1,000 views in a day, we are fine with that because we know that in six years, that video is going to have 120,000 views because we helped 120,000 people who are looking (to do) that job,” Marouski said.