Uncovering the early entrepreneur….

In my last post, I talked about making the jump from the corporate life. This week I am going to try to do some soul-searching and replay some history on how I got here. Once I (barely) graduated from high school, I wanted to something big ( at least in my mind). To me, at the time “big” meant anything to do with loud car stereos. I touched upon that in my last post. The feeling I got from a finely tuned auto sound system was intoxicating. I liked flipping pizzas, but knew that was not going to pay the bills for long. Also, I doubt it would support my habit of louder sound systems. Why not start my own business? Sounded like a great idea at the time! My best friend and I put together a plan to get a business loan and start a company. We literally walked into a bank with no business plan and literally asked a guy for 30K to start a business. Pretty funny huh? We did not think so at the time we were dead serious.

Unfortunately, so was the bank. After about 20 mins of a loan officer probably hold back tears of laughter at us. He finally broke it to us gently. He would not be loaning us money. Ok, plan B. Let’s just find a location and bootstrap ourselves. Easy right? Our parents were very supportive. They said “yeah sure, run out and sign a commercial real estate lease” “no problem knock um dead”. I still remember the look on their face when we came home and said “ok we got our shop!  We had confidence, we had moxie, we had no idea what we were doing. This is how it happened.

After the bank episode we re-grouped. A few weeks later we walked into a business in Davenport, Iowa (VTR TV repair) and convinced they guy to rent us his three bay shop in the back that was vacant. We had no first months rent. We would just pay him as soon as we could. I don’t remember if it was my smooth talking Tim’s or what, but who cares.  Ok, we were in! Next problem. We knew how to work on our cars just not anybody else’s   Hmmm ,may need some help with this one. Being the scrappy passionate guys we were we found our solution. In the back of a Car Audion magazine that we frequently read was an ad that solved all our problems. The school of Mobile Electronics Installation Certification Program.  The program was two weeks of a crash course in Daytona Beach, Florida. After begging our parents to loan us the money, they saw our passion, let us go, and off we went.

The road trip from Rock Island,Il to Daytona Beach, Fla was one we will never forget. It was a two day drive. When we entered Daytona something was not right. It was March of 1993 we had no idea what we were pulling into. I will never forget. We pulled in on a Sunday. The last day of “Bike Week” in Daytona. At the time, we had no idea what this was, or what the next day would would signify. What I am referring to of course is spring break. And not just any spring break.  Being from Rock Island,  we  never heard of spring break. Let me take you back. Think MTV, Think Snoop Dogg , Dr. Dre, Adam Sandler early years, think of the debauchery and mayhem that was going on during that time. Yes, MTV spring break was on site, and it was basically right outside our door. Yes, our hotel was right on the beach (came with the tuition). Funny thing was, Tim and I were the first one to class every single day. We studied harder for that class than any high school class we ever had. We both graduated at the top of the class and were coming home armed with (in our minds) life changing knowledge about our craft. I think it is fair to say. The vehicles we put together were some of the loudest and most incredible sounding hacked together vehicles in the city. A we had a crew of friends that helped us keep it that way. I will be forever grateful to all of you. ( And you know who you are) Don’t get me wrong, we had some fun in Daytona, but we were focused on our goals. Long story short, the business was closed  in less than 4 months. We were defeated, but not going to be held down. Traffic Jamz will still live on in our hearts.  The next phase was a bigger move ….stay tuned for the next chapter…

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