David Finol has vivid childhood memories of riding around in his uncle’s Ford Bronco with speakers in the back, and the sound turned all the way up, blasting out the latest hot music.
“I have loved sound all my life,” Finol said, standing behind the counter of his family’s David Loud Car Audio & Custom Wheels, a mobile audio business near downtown Raleigh.
Finol, 22, manages the company, which is owned by his uncle and aunt, David and Mariela Perez. The shop sells and installs sound systems for automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, boats and any other vehicles that can carry a radio and speakers.
David Loud, which is now in its third location, started eight years ago, when David Perez scraped together $4,000, purchased a small inventory of equipment and went into business at the former Fuquay-Varina Flea Market.
Proir to starting his business, Perez, 44, worked as an installer for a sound system dealership at the Fuquay-Varina flea market on weekends, while also working at a local pizzeria during the week.
In 2007, his sound system employer offered Perez an opportunity to purchase used and discontinued equipment and sell it in his own flea market space, but the deal fell through after he had already quit his job at the restaurant and paid three months’ rent on a flea market stall.
So he started from scratch.
“He started out with six radios, four amplifiers and 10 wiring kits,” Finol said on behalf of his uncle, who is from Venezuela and speaks with a heavy Spanish accent.
Perez and family members, including Finol, worked the flea market space for three years, selling sound systems on the weekends when the market was open, and installing them during the week.
Eventually they began building inventory, starting with $10,000 worth of equipment purchased on credit from an audio equipment distributor in Wilson.
After three years at the flea market, they moved David Loud into a 500-square-foot space on the corner of Pecan and South Saunders streets near downtown Raleigh, where they could sell equipment seven days a week.
They also started selling competition sound equipment, specializing in top-of-the-line Sundown Audio and CT Sounds. These popular, high-demand brands drove business, and sales increased, Finol said.
They tapped into a market of sound enthusiasts who enter competitions for the loudest sound systems, and also sponsor several sound competitions each year.
“Some of our customers are very competitive and want nothing but the best,” Finol said. “You can get a standard system for $450 or go all out and invest $20,000. For some people, it is an addiction.”
They advertise on radio, television and billboards and use social media and digital channels.
They market to a variety of consumers, from those looking for state-of-the-art systems to soccer moms who want a DVD player for their minivans. The shop’s line of products has expanded into headlights and special lighting systems, window tinting, remote start systems, and rims and tires.
Mariela Perez, 45, works full-time as a technical support engineer at NetApp, and handles marketing, accounting and other business functions at David Loud.
Finol’s brother, Alex, 26, works in sales at the shop, and Irmis Monsalve, 67, the Finols’ grandmother, keeps busy making sure the shop is perfectly clean.
“Grandma is a clean freak,” Finol said. “She mops and sweeps six or seven times a day.”
The business also has three employees who work as installers.
By 2014, the shop had expanded so much their tiny space could no longer contain them. So last summer, Mariela Perez found an available building on South Wilmington Street near Captain Stanley’s Seafood.
She is busy putting down roots there and negotiating a lease-to-own plan. The family likes the location, and there’s plenty of room in the back to continue expanding.
Reach Teri Saylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @terisaylor
Advice from David Finol
▪ Treat all of your customers the way you would want to be treated as a customer.
▪ Don’t just meet your customer’s expectations, but exceed them.
▪ Make your customers believe there is nowhere else they can go to get the service you can provide.