Company Overview: Auto Mat Store is an e-commerce business, specializing in automotive floor mats and replacement carpets. All of their products are “made-to-order” and designed specifically based upon a customer’s particular vehicle and preferences.
MO: What inspired you to launch your business?
DON: It was a by-product of a floor mat manufacturing plant I owned. In the manufacturing process, we created an inventory of overruns, returns and obsolete products. With the advent of the Internet and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, we were able to address this inventory issues. It wasn’t long before we expanded our exposure in these marketplaces by offering “new” products in addition to our “in-stock” inventory.
MO: Do you have any recent success stories that you’d like to share with our readers?
DON: The last several years we have been recognized as a top seller on both eBay and Amazon. We have been in the top 25% of all sellers the last 3 years on Amazon during their holiday season. We have consistently been in the top 5 sellers of custom-fit automotive floor mats on eBay.
MO: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
DON: I think the biggest challenge for our company has been increasing competition. The internet made it easy for us to start and grow our business, but it has also allowed others to easily enter the marketplace. To meet that challenge, we focused on finding products that fall within a specific niche within the automotive industry and then marketing these products.
MO: Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Describe the impact.
DON: I don’t know that I have a specific mentor or role model that really influenced me. I have always been a person that is more influenced or motivated by businesses and/or people I have read about. There have been many over the years but the reoccurring theme that most of them have had is to “Take care of your employees, your customer and the community” and the chances of your business succeeding will dramatically increase. Of course there are many other factors involved with having a successful business but I believe this is the foundation from which to build a business.
MO: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
DON: Don’t be afraid! Growing a business is all about taking risk, I have had several businesses, some were successful and others were failures, I learned from the experiences of both. The business environment is always going to be competitive strive to differentiate yourself from the competition by offer quality products and customer service. And very importantly, any business owners should surround themselves with trustworthy, reliable people who support their company’s mission and values.
Looking back over the years, I wish someone would have suggested that I find a good mentor. Someone to challenge me, not give me the answers but to ask the questions so I could find the answers. I would not have made as many mistakes.
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