John "Eddie" A. started taking apart televisions and putting them back together when he was 9 years old. He naturally gravitated toward mechanics and eventually worked as a manager at several high-end auto corporations in San Antonio. Without ever spending a day in college, Eddie successfully managed these stores and participated in several auto training courses that led him to become an expert in auto electronics, auto body repair, and mechanics. Even though he liked working for these corporations, he could not overcome the fact that he could spend his whole life working for this business and be fired at any point. However, Eddie’s most significant motivation to start his own business was to be able to spend more time with his wife and two children and have guaranteed days off.
In 1999, he used his savings and opened his business, Audio Express, which focuses on audio, video and security systems in automobiles. The first year was incredibly rough because his store was robbed of all its inventory. He was very close to closing down but was able to persevere through the difficult time. However, his business was in a bad location and with his first ACCION Texas-Louisiana loan, he moved to his current location. With this shift, his business doubled and he is convinced that without this first ACCION loan, he would be out of business, “The microloan enabled us to take our store to another level. We could transition to another location and get more business.”
Eddie accounts his success to his “3 P” rule that he always abides by: “People, product and price.” He always focuses on the customers’ needs first. Even when gas was $4 a gallon, Audio Express did well because of the customer-first focus. When people from the Louisiana coast line evacuated to San Antonio during Hurricane Katrina, Eddie contributed to this cause by repairing their vehicles for free. He even repaired a Saints football player’s car free of charge and did not know who he was until #93 came back with free tickets.
To prepare for the holiday season, Eddie plans on buying basic inventory with his loan: stereos, radios, and amplifiers. He says, “If we don’t have it, we can’t sell it”. What’s next for Eddie? He is going to pursue marketing his incredibly innovative invention that he cannot disclose at this time.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.