We were lucky to catch up with Ken Wahlster recently and have shared our conversation below.
Ken, appreciate you joining us today. One of the things we most admire about small businesses is their ability to diverge from the corporate/industry standard. Is there something that you or your brand do that differs from the industry standard? We’d love to hear about it as well as any stories you might have that illustrate how or why this difference matters.
At 8 Ball motorcycle Tires we focus on doing only one thing (Motorcycle Tires) and doing that one thing very well. Many businesses try to be like Amazon, everything to everyone… we prefer to be experts in one thing and be the best in the industry.
Ken, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Founder Ken Wahlster started 8 Ball Motorcycle Tires to change the way motorcyclists think about motorcycle tires. He has been riding and racing motorcycles for over 30 years and he loves motorcycle tires. That may sound strange to some people, but Ken doesn’t care. Simply put he is a motorcycle tire geek. He’s rode and raced in major events across North and Central America and won the California Rally Championship in 2010 on his KTM 950 Super Enduro. Known for his opinionated and demanding approach, he has been asked to test newly released tires both on the road race track and off road by major manufactures from around the world. If you ask him about work he’ll tell you with a big grin that he has “the best job in the world!”
Ken is also known as a successful business person and entrepreneur. He paid his way through the University of Pittsburgh by working at a motorcycle shop and went on to earn his MBA in Finance from the Pennsylvania State University. Ken enjoyed a successful career in international finance for several Fortune 500 companies where he traveled the world, but his love for motorcycling never faded and he left his position in the corporate world to found BikeBandit.com in 1999. Under his 15 years of leadership from 1999-2015 BikeBandit.com grew to become one of the Internet Retailer Top 300 websites in the USA. After selling his ownership in Bikebandit.com in 2015 he decided it was time to shake things up again and is now focused on his vision to make 8 Ball Motorcycle Tires the number one place motorcycle riders go for rubber by creating a motorcycle-only tire shop where riders who know what they want can get tires installed in a welcoming atmosphere and where riders who aren’t sure what they need can discuss their options with knowledgeable friendly staff. He hopes to eventually open locations across the globe and become the world’s #1 retailer of motorcycle tires.
Can you talk to us about your experience with selling businesses?
When selling a business I highly recommend you be extremely selective about any investment banker / broker you select as well as to whom you decide to sell your business. There are a lot of people in the world who will tell you what you want to hear, only to change there tune after the paperwork is signed… If your business is profitable and you are happy running it, why sell it? Ask yourself “where will I focus my energy after I sell?”
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
When we started 8 Ball Motorcycle Tires, many people said “you’re stupid; you can’t make enough money just selling motorcycle tires.” Well, we have 3 locations now and are working on opening our 4th. Stupid is as stupid does…