Born and raised in Long Island, NY, Seth Rose took a leap of faith and discontinued college 2 years in. This risk allowed him to dedicate his full time to his new car stereo business. After several business ventures, they sold one after another and he is now retired and financially debt free way before many people are even thinking about retirement. We sit down with Seth to learn more about his secret to success.
Tell us a little about yourself and your businesses to get everyone up to speed.
I am 38 years old, born and raised in Long Island New York, my parents are both educated professionals. I went to College for 2 years and then decided to open my own business with a loan from my grandmother. I opened successful Car Stereo business from 1993-1995 and then sold that business to enter into the exciting Repossession Industry. I became a partner in a business that was failing and took the gross revenue from $250k to $1.25m inside of 6 months, ultimately left that business to start my own where after 8 years gross revenues topped $3.5mil. I sold that business in April 2007 for an undisclosed amount and was debt free and basically retired.
Wow! That is impressive. What college did you attend and how did your parents react?
I attended NY Institute of Technology, majored in Criminal Law, my parents weren’t initially happy but they could see my passion for business and knew I would succeed and were very supportive.
How much was the loan to start your first business and why did you choose the car stereo industry?
I had initially borrowed $25k from my grandmother, the loan was arranged by my father and I paid it all back within 2 years.
I have always loved cars and when I was 17 my electronics teacher in High School had helped me obtain a part-time job in a local electronics store where I became more involved with car stereo world. I also grew up in the 90’s where the kicker boxes and subs ruled the world!
I sold the car stereo business to a local customer, since I had a very low inventory it was fairly easy to sell the fixtures and the lease.
From car stereo business to repossession business is a complete 180 degree turn. How did you get involved?
Owning the stereo store I had met the owner of a repo business when he came into my store to have some work done on one of his tow trucks I became friendly with him and was mesmerized by the business. I had never heard of the business, when I was growing up, if a car was missing it was stolen. People around us paid their bills.
I am impressed at how quickly you were able to turn around the repo business. How did you do it?
I am a service oriented person, when I became partners in the repo business I gave a great bang for the buck and expanded the business by showing fantastic results. Typically in that business the average repossessor is a high school graduate or less and not very refined. I brought a professional business-like flare to the business that was welcomed with open arms. I then secured dozens of clients.
What made you decide to leave that successful business to venture off and form your own repo business?
I left the company due to the misappropriation of corporate funds. Thankfully I caught it – in the early stages and we parted ways. The clients preferred to do business with me and all eventually switched to me.
When you sold your own repo business, why didn’t you keep it in the family since it was doing so well?
I eventually became frustrated with working 22 hours/6 days a week. And yes, I honestly did. Slept between 6-7am and 9-10pm and worked that many hours 6 days a week and focused on building the business. It was consuming my whole life and since I am a bit of a control freak, I didn’t want a partner, so it was either keep it or sell it. I listed it and 3 1/2 years later someone paid me more than I was asking. I also want better for my family, and it wasn’t the most glorifying business.
With so much free time now, what are you currently focusing on?
I currently own ExoticsRally.com which started as a hobby of having fun with exotic & sports cars just getting together to do casual drives. This has evolved into a full blown car club that has regular events that I organize in the NY Metropolitan area throughout the year. Car Shows, rally’s, benefits and more I have been at the helm since July 2007 and have donated more than $100k to charities.
What kind of events do you guys have planned for 2011? Have you given some thought to expanding outside of Tri-State?
3 – 1 day rally’s, 3 car shows, 3 track days, as well as participation in GoldRush Rally & BullRun Rally. I have been offered many opportunities and I do see a future in spreading our wings, I just like to conquer one area before I move on to other ones.
What other benefits are there to being a member of Exotics Rally?
I had purchased a piece of commercial property in Hicksville, NY that consists of a building with garages in the back of the property. I have completely renovated this property to make it my own personal ‘man cave’ which I know share with the ‘Black Card’ members of Exotics Rally. I offer 2 garages with lifts for servicing your own vehicle or simply to raise it for a complete detail along with all the tools and supplies to get the job done. The upstairs of the building is a lounge, complete with 2 computers, leather couches, flat screen TV’s, and all the appropriate driving games for Wii, Xbox, and Playstation.
That sounds like my kind of man cave! What are some of your past and present toys?
I have owned exotic cars since 1995 starting with a 1987 Porsche Carrera followed by the following:
1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi
1994 Ferrari 348 Spider
1988 Porsche 930 Turbo Slant Nose (Original)
2004 Lamborghini Gallardo
2007 Lamborghini Gallardo
2008 Lamborghini Gallardo
2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera (Current)
1960 MGA Roadster
2006 Smart Car Convertible – Original Mercedes Version (Current)
2007 Ariel Atom 2 300hp
2009 Nissan GTR (Current)
1971 Porsche 914 (Current)
2008 Mitsubishi EVO X MR (Current)
2009 Ferrari F430 Coupe (Current)
1986 Renault R5 Turbo 2 Rally Car (Current)
CF Moto Scooter (Current)
2006 GMC TopKick Luxury Truck (Current)
2010 Haulmark Racecar Trailer (Current)
I also love the water and currently live on the South Shore of Long Island on the water where my 2 Yamaha Waverunners reside along with my 2006 45′ Carver Yacht. I love boating during the warm months – that’s my escape from reality!
Impressive car collection indeed! What’s your favorite car out of the bunch?
I would have to say my 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera is my favorite. It’s a true exotic, has a very raw exhaust note and can be driven anywhere, street or track. It’s also a bit rare, 1 of 10 in white that were ever made for the Northeast for a 08 Superleggera.
New York does have its periods of cold and snow. Do you ever get away and travel?
I love to vacation in South Beach, New Orleans, Los Angeles. They all have their perks. I recently spent a week in LA which was amazing, but I never will make 1 place my home.
I love to travel, and have been to many countries in the past few years as well as participated in the BULLRUN live rally in 2009/2010. This past year we made our mark by having he fastest and most capable car for the rally and ultimately won the BEST CAR award from my great friend, Claus Ettensberger of CEC Wheels.
What is your greatest achievement?
My Greatest achievement would have to be success in my repossession business. When I made my first chunk of change I bought my parents a couple of nice watches! For years they helped me and stood by my side through thick and thin and once I succeeded I wanted to give them something to signify that! I followed up the next few years with cars that I supplied them to drive for about 5 years. Unfortunately they are not as passionate as me and they would rather travel and drive a Prius :)
What is the best advice ever given to you?
‘You are only as good as your last accomplishment’ Meaning – whatever you are currently working on – give it your all, no one is going to remember the one before it – so make it count!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Walking the red carpet somewhere – working on some big new business ventures!
We want to give a big THANK YOU to Seth Rose for sharing his awesome story with us. If you are in the Tri-State area and want to participate in the best car events, look no further than Exotics Rally.