In 2014, while living in Memphis TN, Tony Ash took a guy’s trip to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. While there, he met the previous owners of Daytona Cycle Audio, Wayne and Denise Kravits, and had a new sound system installed on his bike. From that experience came a new friendship and eventually an opportunity to take over the business. Ash shared the story behind his entrepreneurial journey and how he and his wife, Jodi, have remodeled and re-positioned the business for future success.
“I was born in Alabama, but raised in the Bay area of California,” Ash said. “Out of school, I spent four years in the Navy on an aircraft carrier. After the service, I was hired by one of the largest optical manufacturing equipment companies in the world. I lived and worked in Texas for 22 years and eventually moved up to Sales Director. After moving around the country a bit, Jodi and I finally ended up in Florida.”
Ash continued, “During my trip to Bike Week in 2014, not only did I meet Wayne and Frank, the Master Installer, I also posted a video on my YouTube channel about my experience with Daytona Cycle Audio. The video ended up getting a lot views and drove new business to Wayne. He found out it was me who shot the video and we’ve been friends ever since.”
That first trip to Florida was followed be a second, along with another visit to Daytona Cycle Audio for a new lighting system. By 2016, Tony and Jodi were living in Florida. Ash continued to make videos for Wayne and by the third quarter of 2019, he received a phone call that changed everything.
“Wayne called and said, ‘Hey dude, what are you doing?’,” Ash said. “At the time, I was in New York on business. Wayne said he was going to retire and that he wanted to sell the business to me. I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason. Our move to Florida happened for a reason and Wayne asking me to buy his business happened for a reason. Over the next couple of months, he and I came to an agreement and Jodi and I, along with Frank, who we made a partner, took possession of the business in December 2019.”
Ash shared that the decision to buy the business wasn’t spontaneous. He and Jodi, who also owns and runs a professional speaking, coaching and training business, both took an honest look at their current commitments and available bandwidth.
“There’s only so much time in the day,” Ash said. “Knowing what I know about owning a business and having rental properties, being able to allocate the proper time is perhaps the most important thing. Even though Harley sales have been off for a couple years, I knew there were others like me that like to listen to good music while riding. To me, the hundreds of thousands of bikes on the road, with stock music systems, represented a tremendous business opportunity. In the end Jodi, who firmly believes in the law of attraction and that things happen for a reason, gave me her full support.”
When Tony and Jodi took over as owners, their first order of business was to remodel the space. They modernized the show room and made it more appealing to visitors and customers. They hung big screen TVS and played videos, mostly shot by Ash. Through an aggressive marketing campaign that includes YouTube videos, Facebook and Instagram advertising, Daytona Cycle Audio experienced a surge in sales.
“We spent a lot of money upfront,” Ash said. “So far it has paid off. Our January, February and March numbers have surpassed any previous year. Our Bike Week sales were also higher than 2019. Being in the Harley world for as long as I have been, I knew what would drive interest and people into our shop.”
After working through a few initial challenges including funding the business, learning QuickBooks, developing vendor relationships and time management, Tony and Jodi are excited and optimistic about the future of Daytona Cycle Audio.
“It’s always scary investing your time and money into something you’re not sure will work,” Ash said. “However, Jodi and I are both passionate about what we’re selling. Between our videos and social media posts that go out several times a day, we’re generating a lot of interest. Over the next three years, we think 75% growth is doable. Between the strong relationships we’re developing with our vendors and our satisfied customers, as evident by our sales and outstanding Google reviews, we’re heading in the right direction. The energy and excitement around the business is incredible.”
What advice does Ash have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “The most important thing is to understand the business you’re getting into,” Ash said. “Don’t get into a business you know nothing about. You also have to understand the numbers. Know your cost of goods sold and your return on investment. I look at our P&L and balance sheet every day. Lastly, if you position yourself correctly and you understand the business and the finances, you don’t have to lose money the first year. We’re doing very well so far.”