Thursday, December 18, 2014

Klassic Rides in Lincoln Co. under new ownership

Three former customers and the founder's son have officially assumed ownership of Klassic Rides, a Lincoln County automobile restoration shop specializing in vintage and classic cars.

Klassic Rides announced its new owners on Thursday.

The business is housed in a 20,400-square-foot facility in Denver with 22 employees, generated about $2 million in revenue this year and attracts customers from the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The shop disassembles, reconstructs and restores muscle, classic and vintage cars from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Employees take pictures of the restoration process and post them online each Friday so customers can track their vehicle's progress.

The new ownership team includes operations manager Billy West, who started Klassic Rides with his father, Floyd West, in 2005; Fred Rice, a 70-year-old retiree; Olindo Mare, who serves as the business' sales, public relations and marketing manager; and Steve Lyon, a "silent owner" who lives in Vermont.

Over time, Floyd and Billy West developed a "difference of opinion as to what the future should be," Rice said.

The new ownership team at Klassic Rides.
 (From left) Fred Rice, Olindo Mare, Steve Lyon and Billy West.
"You have a 30-something year old son and a 60-year-old father with slightly different interests in what the traction should be," he said. "Fathers and sons, they get to the point where they have the contest of who is going to be in charge to go forward.

"As you get older, your risk tolerance goes down a little bit and you want to step back a little," Rice added. Meanwhile, "the young son is trying to put his stamp on the business."

Billy West reached out to three customers to see if they would be interested in becoming co-owners, Rice said. They agreed.

Papers were signed in January and it took the four owners about four days to gather the money to buy out Floyd West, Rice said. In July, they started negotiations to purchase the real estate -- a deal they finalized in November.

Rice declined to disclose the value of the deal, but said it was a "mutually-agreed upon price" with Floyd West, who is no longer associated with the business.

The company's vision, he said, remains the same: Continue to remain true to a commitment for "quality over quantity."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Survey: Small-biz owners upbeat, hopeful for 2015

Small-business owners are feeling pretty good about 2015.

Business owners are more optimistic than they have been in more than six years, and are feeling the most cheerful about the year ahead since the Great Recession, according to the most recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index Survey.

The fourth-quarter survey, which polled private business owners for a week last month, returned a Small Business Index score of "positive 58," up from a "positive 49" in July and up 34 total points from a year ago.

The score is the highest its been since January 2008 when it was a "positive 83."

The survey cites several reasons for their cheery dispositions, including:

  • More than 70 percent of small-business owners feel their company's financial situation will be very or somewhat good over the next year.
  • Hiring will increase as 26 percent of small-business owners reported they plan to increase the number of jobs at their companies "a little or a lot."
  • Business owners plan to make investments in their businesses over the next year with 29 percent of them expecting to increase the amount of money they spend on capital.
  • And, more than 50 percent of business owners expect their company's revenues to increase a little or a lot. Only 14 percent expect a decrease.
But, the survey isn't all smiles. Business owners listed attracting customers and new business among their top concerns for next year, followed by government regulations and financial stability. 

The survey also questioned small-business owners about health insurance coverage, with 56 percent of them reporting that they believe the cost for healthcare in 2015 will result in some kind of financial hardship. In 2015, 25 percent of small-business owners plan to offer health insurance options for their employees, up from 19 percent in 2010.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Customers support Shop Micro Local on its big shopping day

Shop Micro Local vendors say they saw twice the amount of customer traffic this past Small Business Saturday compared to last year.

From left to right: Olive Stewart of Bushelle Seasonings, Caroline Starnes of Guava Love Foods and Leslie Suber of Sadie's Caribbean Fish Cakes. Photo by Alana Dawson.

Close to 30 merchants participated in Shop Micro Local, a coordinated pop-up store housed inside Triple C Brewery in SouthEnd. (Pop-ups are small, temporary businesses that operate in one location for a day or longer, and then leave.)

Here's how Olive Stewart, creator of the marinades line Bushelle Seasonings, described the day in an email to ShopTalk:

"Shop Micro Local was AWESOME! The atmosphere was joyous and PRO local small business. A D.J. kicked off the event and local bands followed. A variety of great food samples was served and many customers shopped while walking around with their Triple C Brew. The event hosted everyone from families to four legged friends with their owners!

The staff of Shop Micro Local, Center City Partners, Triple C Brewery and CPCC did an excellent job in getting the word out. The attendance rate increased two-fold from last year.

The vendors had the ability to have one on one conversation with current and future customers, which we feel is one of the most important aspects of SML. Contacts were made with customers and among vendors. New vendors were able to showcase their product for the first time and they received an overwhelming response. Many vendors agreed that the event was worth participating in financially and would participate next year."

Here are photos from the event. Photos by Alana Dawson: