David Aragon is a small business owner who runs Araparts, an auto parts company. Recently, California Capital asked him a few questions.
Can you give us a brief bio?
My name is David Aragon. I’m 25 years old, and I was born in Oakland, California. I grew up in the Bay Area, and lived in Orlando, Florida for 4 years. I’m an avid car enthusiast who loves everything about anything with a motor that moves, gasoline or electric. I like working on things, and making them better. I think cars and engineering are like art. My favorite example of this is the Tesla Model S.
What got you started in your particular area of business?
I’ve always loved cars, and I’ve always wanted to own a performance racing shop since I was about 14. I bought my first car when I was 16 for $3,000 and I totaled it 7 months later in a rollover accident. I only had liability so I had to beg my parents to let me keep in in the driveway and part it out so I can get my money back. I ended up making almost $7,000 off of it. I would get my paycheck from work and think “I just made $700 this week on the side. Why am I working 20 hours a week for 450 bucks a month?”
There was a part on the car shade that several people kept asking me to separate from the entire shade. Toyota didn’t sell this part separately, and the shade was discontinued. I decided that I was going to re-engineer the part myself.
At 19 years old, I successfully completed the reproduction of the product and started selling them. It even ended up at some of the local Toyota dealerships through some resellers. I only broke even on this product, but I was hooked. I started looking for other ways to make money in the auto industry, and found out that ignition coils were a hot product, and I decided to do the traditional buy and sell in my own private label brand Araparts. In the future I will continue to re-produce new products to market when I have more money to create molds, but this was the perfect start I’ve been looking for.
What challenges did you face when starting your business?
There were many challenges. The biggest one was with myself. There were times that I would think that it would never work, but I had to fight it off. Money was a big one. I crunched my money as much as possible to save as much as I could for a better launch. I could have bought a nicer car, but I didn’t. Making it in business sooner rather than later was the only thing on my mind. I had to find a product that I could drop like fire. Eventually I found one product that was selling like hot cakes: ignition coils. I bought $10,000 worth of coils at cost, and in 30 days I sold out completely. I ended up making just under $200,000 in sales that year and used 100% of the profit to add more products and grow revenue. That has been the plan since; all while I was working as a mechanic at Les Schwab. In 2013, I doubled revenue, left Les Schwab, and got a small office/warehouse, and have been growing ever since.
How did you hear about California Capital?
I was transitioning from spark plug wires to ignition coils, and I needed a little more capital for the ignition coils. I spoke with several lenders who thought I was a joke (I still kinda look like an 18-19 year old). I was denied for every reason in the book. Nobody even wanted to hear me out. When I spoke with Anthony Rucker from California Capital, we set up an appointment and he let me come in to explain everything so they could understand it better. I was concerned with having too many unnecessary inquiries on my credit so I wanted them to look at everything from my end, decide if they were going to go forward with it, and then run my credit after they’ve made the decision (just to make sure everything lines up). Anthony Rucker was all for it, and was pushing to get the loan. It was the best experience I’ve ever had with any loan company, ever.