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