Getting laid off from his long-time job at Circuit City in 2009 was a blessing in disguise, Brian West said.
Following 15 years of service with the electronics chain, he suddenly found himself unemployed when it closed.
After losing his job, West decided to open WIRES Inc., a store that sells and installs a wide range of car audio equipment and accessories.
“One door closes, another door opens,” said West, who grew up in Louisburg.
To get the business off the ground, he hired several former co-workers who also had lost their jobs when Circuit City closed.
He opened as the recession was kicking into high gear, but his business has continued to grow each year. Today, he has five employees and plans to add two more during 2013.
WIRES has grown in sales each year, with an 86 percent increase from 2009 to 2010, a 36 percent increase from 2010 to 2011, and a 34 percent increase from 2011 to 2012, he said. His inventory also has tripled since 2009.
“We are doing really well,” West said.
The Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce named the business the March Small Business of the Month.
“(West) decided to open his own business in a time when loans were not being made for ventures such as his,” a chamber press release states. “The service was a needed service for the area. … Being a new very small business, an advertising budget was not an option, so Brian West began visiting all the local dealers and built solid local relationships.”
The business installs all of the products it sells, which include CD players, speakers, amplifiers, satellite radios and security, keyless-entry and remote-start systems. It also installs iPod and Bluetooth integration systems, overhead and headrest video systems, in-dash video and navigation systems, cruise control, leather seat interiors, heated seats, hidden headlights, back-up sensors and cameras.
“It’s basically like a one-stop shop for your vehicle,” said Nick Luper, a salesman at the store. “Any type of accessory and customizing, we can do it not just audio.”
According to a chamber press release, WIRES provide internships for students and supports local recreation sports teams, the Relay for Life and charity golf tournaments.
Q: What products or services do you provide?
A: Brian West: We service anyting as far as car electronics and accessories. That can range anywhere from stereos and speakers to chrome step bars, trailer hitches, power window kits, headlight restoration, leather packages, cruise control alarms and remote start systems. We just added trailer hitches.
Q: Who are your key leaders?
A: Owners Brian West and Wanda West, salesman Nick Luper, audio installer Clint Joyner and tint and vinyl installer Travis Price.
Q: How many people do you employ?
Q: What is your business philosophy?
A: To provide the best in car electronics and accessories through the best customer service, the best professional installation and the best product selection and to give the customer the latest in technical knowledge and provide a true one-stop shop.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: We can add things to vehicles that you normally wouldn’t think. We can add safety products, like backup cameras and OnStar systems. We can change out speakers at a much lower price than going to a dealer. We can add and clarify sound by adding amplifiers and subwoofers to make it sound like a surround sound system in your house. We have the ability to add safety and style products to your car, like window tint, chrome, step bars.
What make us different than other places is we don’t have to wait for corporation decision. I can make changes and add new products to meet customers demands. I make decisions based on customers’ needs.
Q: How has your business grown last few years?
A: We are doing really well from our Circuit City contacts, word of mouth. We use newspaper ads and also do Facebook ads and Suddenlink TV ads and radio, a whole list of advertising.
Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?
A: Our business has grown by adding new products and more customers. We’re doing about 35 percent more than what we did last year. We expect growth of at least 20 percent a year in the coming years. We want to add more products and services.