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Sunday, Oct 1, 2023

Entrepreneur Profile , Ken Wahlster

Ken Wahlster, president and CEO of BikeBandit.com, has seen his Internet motorcycle parts and accessories startup grow into a $17 million a year business since its inception in 1999.


Name: Ken Wahlster.

Titles: President and CEO.

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Company: BikeBandit.com.

Company address: 7625 Panasonic Way, Suite B, San Diego, 92154.

Company phone: (888) 339-3888.

Year founded: 1999.

Prior business experience: Corporate treasury, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals; Gateway Computers, San Diego.

Average hours worked weekly: 55.

Source of startup capital: Friends and family.

2006 revenue: $17 million.

2005 revenue: $13 million.

Number of employees: 70.

Web site: www.BikeBandit.com.


Birthplace: Pittsburgh.

Education: B.A. economics, University of Pittsburgh; M.B.A., Pennsylvania State University.

Age: 37.

Current residence: Tierrasanta.

Hobbies: Riding motorcycles, flying airplanes, and our two Labrador retrievers (Bandit and BB). The company is named after Bandit.


Reason for getting into business: I identified an opportunity to provide a new service in a lucrative market where the existing service providers had forgotten about their customers.

How I plan to grow the business: By continuing to provide the best service and delivery times in the industry.

Biggest plus of business ownership: I love motorcycles and am one of BikeBandit.com’s customers (I often order things anonymously to see just how good we really are); this is something that was missing from all my other professional positions.

Biggest drawback: There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.

Biggest business strength: Employees. Our team is made up of great people who really believe in the company.

Biggest business weakness: Making sure we do not burn out our team.

Biggest risk: Forgetting why customers shop at BikeBandit.com I will not let this happen because I am a customer.

Smartest business decision: Always hire the best people.

Biggest business mistake: Not trusting my instincts about people.

Toughest career decision: Leaving a fat corporate job to start BikeBandit.com.

Biggest ongoing challenge: Managing growth.

The most important parts of my business: Customers and employees.

My business works best when: We focus on what our customers tell us is important to them.

Best way to stay competitive: Shut up and listen.

How I measure success: Setting and exceeding goals for growth.


Goals yet to be achieved: Becoming the largest power sports retailer in the world.

My five-year business plan: Growth by exceeding customer expectations and acquisitions.

I would sell my business only if: I believed it was the best thing for the company as a whole.

Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Innovation, execution and accountability.


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