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Old 08-25-2007, 10:33 AM   #1
Unabomber
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OMGHi2U Unabomber's Vendor Interview: OAKOS Automotive

The genesis behind this post is to further personalize the Vendor/NASIOC user experience. Like many NASIOC users, there are very few places to buy parts locally and I've supported my modification habit through the many, wonderful NASIOC Vendors. I hope that this post will enlighten NASIOC users to parts, manufacturers, and Vendors.

Can you give us some background information about yourself?

I was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1975. My hobbies are cars (obviously! ), RC cars, computers, electronics, & racing of all forms (especially Rallying & F1). I met my wife Joy in 1993. Joy Graduated from Michigan State University in 1998 with an Elementary Education Degree and currently works as a 3rd grade teacher by day and is OAKOS’ Ebay specialist by night. I graduated from Oakland University in 2002. Joy and I tied the knot in Hawaii on July 18th 2003. Our first child, Lillian Marie was born in 2004 and our second child, David James III, was born in 2006. Joy and I agree that having kids has been the most rewarding experience of our lives.

I have owned a variety of vehicles over the years; 1991 Jeep Wranger, 1987 Mustang 5.0L w/ NOS, 1989 Jeep Comanche pick up truck with a 140+ Db sound system, 1992 Toyota Celica, 1992 Talon TSi (12.94 @ 103MPH), 1975 Ford Bronco, 1999 Mazda Millenia, 1996 Ford Probe GT, 1997 Integra GSR and I currently own a 2002 WRX sedan and a 2006 F-150 pickup truck. I also have owned FZR600 and CBR900RR motorcycles and I hope to own another motorcycle again some day soon.


Lillian, Dave, and David III

Any story behind the name OAKOS?

“OAKOS” is an acronym from it’s parent company OAKland Online Sales LLC. I formed Oakland Online Sales LLC in the ‘90’s and I worked in website design with an emphasis on integrating E-commerce software into current websites back when it wasn’t as easy as it is now a days. I used my experience to set up my own site (www.oakos.com) selling mobile electronics in 1999 and OAKOS Automotive was born. OA struggled to gain recognition and market share against some huge opposition like Crutchfield and SoundDomain. We didn’t actually stock any products and relied on a local mobile electronics wholesale distributor as our sole supplier. That meant every time OA would receive an order I would have to drive over to pick up the product (if they actually had it in stock), package it in my car, and drop it off with UPS. I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of having product in stock and ready to ship as opposed to chasing parts around all day.


Outside of building

What does OAKOS do?

OAKOS stocks and sells the following products:

ACT, Ansa, APEXi, ATE, Autometer, Borla, Bosal, Carbotech, COBB, Denso, Eibach, Exedy, Goodridge, Hawk, HKS, K&N, Kartboy, Koyo, KYB, McGard, Muteki, NGK, Noltec, OAKOS, Perrin, Pony Exp., Prodrive, Progress, RacingBrake, Rota Wheels, Samco, Speed Bleeder, STi, TurboXS, Walbro, Whiteline

We pride ourselves on quick shipping. The greatest obstacle that I see to a mail order operation is that customers don’t receive instant gratification when purchasing stuff. Anything that we can do to minimize the amount of time between a customer placing an order and them actually receiving their parts is a big plus. We offer same day shipping on orders placed before Noon Eastern time. We stock nearly everything we have listed on our website and have the stock status posted right on the website so people know what we do or don’t have before placing an order. The few items that we do have to special order are clearly labeled as special order items so customers know up front that delivery time could take longer than items that we normally keep in stock.

Did I mention we stock what we sell?









Who are your employees?

Dave Kearney – I’m the President and the Janitor!
Joy Kearney– Co-owner, eBay Specialist, accountant, and many other things.
Clayton Banka– Customer Relations Manager; I met Clayton early on through the Midwest forum on NASIOC. Clayton works the phones and heads up our message board advertising. Clayton, while currently Subaru-less, is no stranger to Subaru performance. He was one of the first in the country with a custom fabricated “rotated” turbo kit on his ’02 wagon before bolt on rotated mount kits were readily available.
Jerry “the shipping guy” Rogowski – Jerry and I have been friends for more than 15 years. He is a great guy and a hard worker. He runs the warehouse here and breaks down shipments as they come in and packs orders.


Clayton in his usual pose

What gave you the idea to start OAKOS?

Car magazines were my greatest influence. RC Car Action, Hot Rod, Car Craft, Road & Track, etc. were some of my favorites as a kid. Turbo & High Tech Performance magazine was what really opened my eyes to sport compact cars and I was enthralled with the thought of beating up on some of the local muscle cars (Detroit is the “Motor City” after all) with a small displacement turbocharged “sleeper” car.

In 1995 Turbo magazine featured a Talon TSi AWD car that ran 12.90’s and I caught the DSM bug. I sold my ’92 Toyota Celica GT-S and used the proceeds as a down payment on a ’92 Talon TSi. I started modding it immediately and watched the time slips go from mid 14’s stock to high 13’s with some bolt-ons and eventually high 12’s with a 16G turbo and supporting mods. I lived right off of Woodward Ave. in 1995 so races were easy to find and the car took a lot of unsuspecting V8’s by surprise.

I really wanted to start selling performance parts for the DSM T/E/L cars and began welding “test pipes” up in my garage. Basically 18” of tubing and two flanges that fit in place of the catalytic converter. That was pretty much the one and only product I ever offered for the T/E/L cars. My Talon had no less than 7 major driveline failures and I decided I just couldn’t afford to keep it as my daily car so I sold it in favor of the high revving Integra GSR. I had the ‘Teg for 4 years before I lost interest in the front wheel drive platform.

I looked into getting a Impreza 2.5RS in 2000 and that’s when I found NASIOC (known as i-Club back then). That’s when I first heard the rumors that Subaru was planning on bringing the legendary WRX to the American market. SOA officially made the announcement at the Detroit International Autoshow in January of 2001 and I was there to see the car in person. I drove straight from the autoshow to a local Subaru dealership and put down a deposit for my very own WRX. I was so excited I could hardly wait. During the three month wait to take delivery on my car I researched performance parts and found there was very little in the way of aftermarket support here in the U.S. for the Subarus. That’s when I saw the opportunity to transition OAKOS from mobile electronics to Subaru performance parts.

I took delivery of my WRX in April of 2001 and it took me almost a year, but I finally worked up the guts in early 2002 to delete all the products on our website and officially switch to Subaru parts. We started with Whiteline products and shortly there after added Kartboy and Samco products to the site. We only had about 20 or 30 products at first so it was quite manageable to stock everything on the floor in my den. Pretty soon we picked up more and more parts and the operation expanded to the basement and garage. Soon our house was stuffed full of parts.

By 2004 our neighbors had complained so much about the semi truck shipments that we were getting that the subdivision association was threatening to sue us if we didn’t stop operating out of the house. It was stressful times with a new born baby, a growing business, a stuffed house, and a pending lawsuit. We searched high and low for a small inexpensive building to move into and we found the perfect transitionary building and finally moved OA out of our house in early 2006. We finally brought in some badly needed help. A high school friend, Jerry, came to work with me and we were joined by Melysha shortly after.

Pretty soon we had outgrown that building and we scouted new locations and found our current facility in Sterling Heights. It has plenty of space and allowed us to pick up COBB and some other brands that we just couldn’t fit into our smaller building. We have plenty of room to grow and have room to work on our project car and prepare it for HPDE’s that I love to do.

What is OAKOS’ contact information?

Dave & Joy Kearney - Owners
44019 Phoenix Dr.
Sterling Heights MI 48314
Tel: 866-97-OAKOS (62567)
Fax: 586.803.1760
www.oakos.com
sales@oakos.com

Can you disclose any upcoming products or ideas of upcoming products (est. availability and pricing)?

We are working hard on unveiling our wholesale program. We help out a variety of vendors, but we don’t yet have an official wholesale program established.

We are adding new products as quickly as we can afford. Capital becomes a real issue when actually stocking product. Loading up a website with a zillion brands is easy; loading up a warehouse with 65+ brands & 700+ different parts can be somewhat more challenging. We’ve been to SEMA every year since 2002. 2007 will be no exception. Hopefully this year we will be as successful in locating innovative new products to offer to the Subaru community.

We recently began stocking COBB, Whiteline, Gates timing belts, APEXi, and hopefully soon we will be adding Tein, Cosworth, and more. We also plan on filling the large void in our product line up by offering more turbos and injectors soon.

What’s it like being a Vendor?

Being a vendor has been great. We get to meet a lot of great people from many different areas and backgrounds. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed the most about cars in general is how it brings people together from all walks of life and gives them all a “common denominator”. Go out to a drag strip, autoX or a car meet anywhere and you will see people of all ethnicities, ages, professions, etc. all checking out each others cars and interacting in a way that may not normally happen without the shared passion for cars.


Two monitors...one for orders, one for Off Topic!

Have any advice for someone thinking of becoming a Vendor?

My advice for anyone who is looking to become a vendor is to view the operation as a business not as a hobby. Business is business no matter what the product or service is that you offer. Most of my day to day tasks would be the same if we sold widgets instead of performance parts. Most of the vendors who I’ve seen come and go over the years didn’t seem to have a solid business plan and often didn’t appear to be making sound business decisions, especially when it came to making customers happy. Take care of the customer and they will take care of you!

Who is your favorite distributor of products that you sell?

I really like everyone that we work with. However, Tom at Kartboy really stands out and has been great to work with. Kartboy was one of our first brands back in 2002. He really cares about his dealers and takes good care of them. His response time to emails is incredible. Prodrive is another company who is a joy to work with. It’s exciting to work with the same company who campaigns the Subaru’s WRC rally cars. I’m also a huge Formula One fan so it’s extra exciting to see Prodrive break new ground and enter a team into F1.
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