Hubcap business keeps_rolling_into_the_next_generation
Hubcap business keeps rolling into the next generation Hubcaps Unlimited 30 years and growing
Rick Dynek Sr. showed up for work Wednesday, mostly out of a habit hes developed over 30 years, as the owner of Hubcaps Unlimited on S. Howell Ave.But Jan. 2 was different for Dynek Sr., who founded the business that carries about 20,000 hubcaps and wheels for hundreds of different vehicles.He is now officially retired, sort of, after turning over the business to his son, Rick Dynek Jr."Its kind of a hard habit to break," he said about coming to work anyway.Dynek Sr. started his family business out of his garage in 1982, after being laid off from a factory. He and his wife, Cynthia, have run it ever since, selling hubcaps to individuals, car dealers, body shops and insurance companies.They sell singles or sets, new or used, brand name or generic manufacturer. The hubcaps come from all over the nation, often in bulk lots of hundreds from wholesalers who get them from used-car dealerships and salvage yards.In his lifetime, Dynek Sr. said, he has hand-washed thousands of hubcaps."Theres always been a need for them, and people did not like going to salvage yards where they had to crawl around cars in the mud and dirt," he said.Hubcaps Unlimited has about $400,000 a year in sales, with 75% of the revenue coming from the companys website, www.hubcapnation.comThe business has been online since 1999, said Dynek Jr., adding that it was a difficult step to take."It took a lot of work and a lot of convincing because dad didnt want to take credit cards. We were a check and cash-only business, which made it hard to sell online," he said.Fickle businessBuying hundreds of used hubcaps is a gamble because some gather dust on the shelves for years if the vehicles they graced have been discontinued.There are wheel covers at Hubcaps Unlimited that have, "celebrated their 15th birthday here," Dynek Jr. said, while others are in constant demand.He has grown up with the business and, at age 36, is ready to take the wheel.He and his wife, Jennifer, will be the only employees - much as Dynek Sr. and his wife, Cynthia, ran the business for many years.They always lived within their means and never took out a loan, Dynek Jr. said."The business is just big enough to do what it has to do, one step at a time," he said.Putting new hubcaps on your car is an inexpensive way to give it a new look and is something that car dealers routinely do when selling a used vehicle.But it can be a fickle business, Dynek Jr. said, because individual consumers will postpone replacing hubcaps when the economy turns sour and money is tight."Theres a much harder line drawn on wants and needs. We arent going to be on the top of the needs list," he said.
Dynek Jr. said he will beef up the companys online presence, which helps when the economy weakens in one area of the country but remains strong in other areas. He also plans to sell more wheels.Used hubcaps are a niche business, he said, because theres a limited supply of them."You could have 50 dealers around the country looking for 2005 Toyota Corolla hubcaps, but there are only so many of them available. So theres no room for twice as much competition because it would only mean that twice as many people would go away empty-handed," he said.Changing driversSince he graduated from high school, Dynek Jr. said, Hubcaps Unlimited has been the only place he has worked.He and his father anticipated the change in ownership someday, but neither was in a hurry for it.There was a flurry of planning and paperwork crammed into the last month.It was harder than they thought, Dynek Jr. said.Some family-owned businesses fall apart when making the transition from one generation to the next.One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking of the transition as "an event" rather than a process, said Deb Houden, director of the Family Business Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.While its important to have a date circled on the calendar for when the next generation will take over, because it signifies when theyre in charge, some people dont realize how much planning is necessary beforehand, Houden said.Only about 33% of family-owned businesses make it to the second generation, 12% stay in the family a third generation, and 4% last four generations.Sometimes the business was at the end of its life cycle and would have died anyway. Other times the transition wasnt handled well, and the business couldnt survive it.Planning for the change in ownership allows the next generation to develop leadership skills while theres still a bit of a safety net."Its something like passing the baton before it has to happen," Houden said.Dynek Sr. says hes ready for retirement, and that he will be busy restoring coin-operated mechanical horses that were popular in the 1950s.The collectible horses could turn into a business, too."Theres a market for them," Dynek Sr. says. "People my age are putting them in their recreation room for their grandkids. I look at it as trying to save a piece of history."He has a lot of good memories from the hubcaps business, which has had some unusual sales. A restaurant once purchased 50 hubcaps for use as hors doeuvre trays.As a teenager, he found a hubcap that belonged to a 1964 Corvette. Years later, he grudgingly sold it at an auto show for $75, but recently he found another just like it for his personal collection."I figured that was the one I started with, and thats the one I would end with," Dynek Sr. said.
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