Chris went to college and specialized in Advertising and Design. He worked as a graphic designer at various companies over the years before ending up in Knoxville, TN. He had started StudioRhoad.com many years ago, but really took it serious a few years ago, and decided to run the business full time. He now employs 4 people and has several freelancers located around the globe.
His team specializes in creating websites geared towards the end user. This process includes a discovery phase where Studio Rhoad determines exactly who the end user is and how that user interacts with the company. They also help with social media marketing and content generation. To this day, Chris is still surprised at how many companies have not incorporated mobile-friendly website platforms even though as many as half their users are on a mobile device.
Jim Liaw grew up in Southern California and was immediately drawn to the street racing scene. But his passion really started when he saw an E30 BMW M3 and fell in love with the looks. During college, he reached out to any automotive related business he could think of looking for a job or internship. He landed a spot at Sport Compact Car as an intern working on finding new sponsors for the magazines. His next job was in the import drag racing with the IDRC series and sold sponsorships and booth spaces for their races. The next position was at Vision Entertainment that produced Hot Import Nights doing more sponsorship managements.
Jim then teamed up with a friend to start Slipstream Global Marketing with the goal of helping companies optimize their promotional spend at events. They landed a big client with Mazda and worked with them to increase youth awareness to the Mazda brand at motorsports events. In 2003, Jim gets word that the Japanese want to hold a drifting exhibition event in the United States. Their first event at Irwindale Speedway was a huge success! Despite this, the Japanese counterparts weren’t too keen on hosting more events. So, Jim and his partner set out to create their own drifting series and called it Formula Drift.
Since then, they have been growing the series every year. They employ 6 other people and are holding 8 events in 2017. They stream all of the races for free on the internet and strive to provide the ultimate experience for the fans.
Dave Vasser grew up in Waco, TX and fell in love with street racing right away. He wasn’t too interested in school and actually dropped out in 10th grade to work with his uncle at his framing company. He worked at various other businesses but always dabbled with modifying cars and making them fast. He opened his for automotive business in 2000 selling race gas and nitrous out of a trailer. The next year, he started renting a space and doing installs. The business grew rather quickly and he had to move to a larger space to accommodate the various techs and salesmen.
Throughout the growing process, Dave was always selling nitrous products manufactured by other people. He really enjoyed this side of the business and ended up turning over the install portion to one of his mechanics. This allowed Dave to focus on making products he needed that other people weren’t making. In early 2004, he decided to take the leap and stop selling other people products. Now, Nitrous Outlet is the largest nitrous parts manufacturer in the world with 30 employees and 13,000 square foot building.
His new goal is to run the business better and become more efficient. He has hired a CFO to manage the finances and assembled a management team. Dave is getting back into racing after the car has been neglected for many years.
Ken Anderson grew up in LA during the 70’s and enjoyed normal kid stuff like biking and skateboarding. Ken’s first car was a VW Bug and he discovered how much fun it was to customize it. In the mid-80’s, he got a job at a local Honda dealership in the parts department. That dealership begin importing Mugen parts from Japan and was installing them onto cars. After a few years of working at the dealership, he wanted to get into racing and got in touch with Russ at RC Engineering. Ken started as a shop assistant and learned a lot about engine dynamics during his time there. Then, he heard about an opportunity at HKS and got a job as a sales person. He got in on the ground floor of HKS bringing their excellent build quality to the US.
After some time, he had an opportunity to team up with Rod Millen and began importing parts for the Miata when it was first brought to the US. They built some great cars and imported all sorts of parts for the Miata and other Mazda cars. Eventually, Ken saw yet another opportunity in SUV’s and branched out to start a company that imported accessories for vehicles like the Land Cruisers, Montero’s, and Troopers. This was the first company that Ken started on his own and he grew it to be a very large company. Then he sold his stake to a partner and exited the business.
The next venture was back into smaller sports cars. He met a man who worked at Cosworth during a car event and this meeting turned into another business opportunity. At the time, Cosworth’s primary role in the US was to support the Champ Car racing series. But Cosworth wanted to manufacture and sell more parts in the US and Ken was put in charge of that task. When Ford sold off the Cosworth arm of the business, Ken helped introduce several products for different vehicle manufacturers. They got started with products like a CNC head for the Subaru STI, as well as a CNC head and cams for the Mitsubishi Evo. After building up yet another business, Ken left to go work for COBB Tuning for the next 1.5 years.
Ken then traveled to England for the Autosport Performance Trade Show and had a meeting with Mountune to sell them the Accessport. David Mountain, the founder of Mountune, was actually looking for somebody to introduce the US to their products and knew that Ken would be perfect for the job. So Ken took the offer and opened up Mountune USA by himself and proceeded to grow the company very quickly. He now employs 13 people and occupy a large building with a showroom, install area, engine dyno, and warehouse space.