A Success Story:
What inspired you to start your own business?
After graduating from Ohio University in 2001, I decided I wanted to stay in this area, but due to the lack of jobs, it made it difficult to find a job to support myself. After working for a local pizza shop, I decided to take the plunge, and start my own business. I wanted to start a business and create a job that I would enjoy going to every day.
What challenges did you face and where did you find help?
In the fall of 2002 I began working on a business plan, and with the help of the small business center in Athens, Ohio, I was able to create a business plan to take to the local banks, seeking funds to start my business. After being turned down by several banks in my area because the loan officers thought this type of business would never survive, I went to ACENet Ventures. They are a microbusiness development organization serving southeastern Ohio. After being approved by them, I was able to start my business in March of 2003. I received a loan of $44,000 from ACENet in 2003. I paid off that loan within 18 months.
Once you had proven that your business was a success what financial resources did you use to continue to grow?
I received a loan of $227,000 from Hocking Valley Bank to purchase the property and building of my business in 2010. In 2011, I re-financed the property through Wes Banco in Athens, Ohio because they offered me a lower interest rate than the Hocking Valley Bank.
Tell us about some of your business successes.
Before I opened this business, the closest store offering similar service was 45 miles away. Over the years in business we have expanded our services from just car radio installs and sales to offering remote car starters, window tinting, auto detailing services and home theater installation and sales. Each service added has created another job / position in our area. Over the past six years we have begun to offer internships to area high school students and young adults with disabilities who are interested in this line of work.
What has changed about your vision for the business since opening?
When I first opened the business, I thought our customer base would range from 16-20 year olds, after being open for a year, I was surprised to see that the customer base is 16-51 year olds. Our customers value our company because of the customer service we offer. We offer personal assistance and training for our customers. We show them how to use the merchandise versus them having to read an instruction manual and have to figure it out on their own. Most customers value our services because we treat every customer with personal attention with their purchases. We even offer car pick up and drop off services for the convenience of our customers, which is not offered at big box stores. Even with internet shopping becoming more popular, customers like to be able to see and touch the merchandise and see that it is a quality product before purchasing. All of our products are on display at our store versus online shopping.
Watch Class "A" Sounds Entry Video for the 2013 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards
Aaron was a finalist at the AEO National Conference