April 28, 2021

LESSONS FROM A CAR FAMILY AND TIME IN THE BUSINESS/ DOT COM BUBBLE/ CEO OF THE YEAR!

Kevin Hourigan


00:00 You can't be from the Tampa Bay area and not know who Kevin Hourigan is 00:03 Suzuki Samurai 2:06 280ZX 2:07 Kevin has a company called Bayshore solutions. 3:48 He's been recognized by so many entities for his leadership. 5:40 leader of the Year by Tampa Chamber of Commerce, technology leader of the Year; Tampa Bay technology forum, marketer of the Year; Tampa Bay American advertising Federation, the ultimate CEO. His speaking engagements had him along other brands like Google, Facebook, Carnival Cruise Lines, General Motors, and keynote at the US Chamber of Commerce. 6:18 recently merged with another company to become one of the top few privately held advertising and marketing agencies in the USA. 9:00 Kevin's father is a Ford dealer. 10:18 at approx age 20, Kevin got a letter from the state of Florida saying he was violating the law; you can't sell more than three motor vehicles without an automobile dealer license. 10:46 Kevin got an auto dealer license in 1998. 13:30 private sellers and buyers that look private often have a conflicting mission. 16:55 a car owner's pride can cost him thousands $$ 19:08 Kevin's dating criteria when he was single 20:57 Kevin gets a job selling cars during college 24:02 Kevin learned a lot about life and business that summer in the car dealership 26:09 Bayshore solutions did very well with high-end dealer groups 30:00 experiences are things that curriculum can't teach you 34:56 HYDROGEN MEDIA, THE DOT COM DARLING

Transcript

PART 1 - KEVIN LESSON FROM A CAR FAMILY AND TIME IN THE BUSI...

Mon, 4/26 9:26PM • 36:34

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

car, kevin, sell, dealer, buy, people, year, offer, business, running, salesperson, trade, picking, jeff, selling, hire, mclaren, dealership, dad, hyundai

SPEAKERS

Jeff Sterns

 

Jeff Sterns  00:00

You can't be from the Tampa Bay area and not know who Kevin is I

 

00:03

drive a McLaren 650s spider. I only changed my original offer price to what I ended up paying him by 20 $500. He changed his selling price by $17,500.

 

Jeff Sterns  00:16

We used to go through girlfriends. The first thing he would say before he asked for a number is how many cars have you had registered to your name this year?

 

00:22

My dad asked me one day said, Hey, Kevin, you're like, Hey, what are you gonna do this summer? I'm like, oh, Dad, you know, man, it was tough semester, like I got beat up. I got to figure out what I'm going to do. When I go back to your next semester. This is the thing I'm spend this summer kind of reflecting and figuring out like, where my path is, and this and that is like, Wow, that sounds amazing. Because you until next Friday to get a job or I'm going to get one for you. We did really well with high end sales where the principal of the dealership was part of the decision making process of who the agency was. We were a.com darlings guys like us. So we're in our early 30s, late 20s, early 30s. You know, going from being worth, you know, what's in our wallet to being worth $150 million dollars each.

 

01:10

Jeff Sterns connected through cars, if they're bigwigs, we'll have him on the show. And yes, we'll talk about cars and everything else. Here he is now, Jeff Sterns,

 

Jeff Sterns  01:29

Jeff Sterns connected through cars with my good friend, Kevin Harrigan, here, Kevin, and I go back, I don't even want to say mid 80s.

 

01:37

Hey, go,

 

Jeff Sterns  01:38

you can say that. The show is while we're connected through cars, so I can only remember two things distinct about Kevin back then riving, a Suzuki samurai, which was very fashionable at the time, you got to understand I think there was a waiting list card at that time, right? Like that was a big deal.

 

01:55

Yeah. Was the other one.

 

Jeff Sterns  01:56

I never saw highlights out of mail before that. So when I was working with Kevin 35 years ago, he was driving what year to ATC a 1981.

 

02:04

To add zx

 

Jeff Sterns  02:07

oh my god zx. And I saw you post about that because I put my 75 to 80 z on which of course I wish I had you wish you had your z x.

 

02:18

Yes. Yes. Jeff Jeff that that picture the other day brought back such memories because I bring a trailer they had a 1981 identical car sell with men 19,000 miles and it went for $26,000 that last weekend, I bought a 280, zx for old times sake just to be able to have some nostalgia come back into play. So haven't gotten that yet. It's coming down from South Carolina. But a week from now. I'll send you

 

Jeff Sterns  02:42

a picture. It's funny. I mean, it almost doesn't matter what the car is, if it reminds us of a time.

 

02:48

Exactly. Yep, I agree.

 

Jeff Sterns  02:50

And not that that's not a great car. I'm not knocking the car. But it doesn't have to be a million dollar car. Does that give you the feeling? So, um, let me read a little bit of your bio. So you don't have to be all on edge about to these people know who I am. And the beautiful thing, Kevin, about this podcast is really I mean, you and I go way back, we've got a relationship. And we get to catch up a little. And we're just recording the conversation. Absolutely. That's all and if we can pick out 1215 minutes of worthwhile stuff. For the audience. We'll try. So let's read a little bit about Kevin, I'm gonna cheat and read a little bit. So Kevin has a company called Bayshore solutions. He's been running that for 24 years. And you know, I mean, he's got a little bit of flowery stuff through growth and change and etc. But Kevin has been known. And if you don't know, Kevin, and you're not from the area, you won't let me put it this way. You can't be from the Tampa Bay area, and not know who Kevin is, as a leader. He's been recognized by so many entities for his leadership. And workplace you can't know him and not know that and me knowing Kevin, personally, what I can tell you instead of Kevin, the resume and Kevin the bio is, is that he is he is what he says Kevin is being himself. Kevin is his words. I mean, Kevin does walk the walk. There's no doubt about it. So Kevin, also, you had a company we got to talk about? Yeah. called hydrogen media. Yes. You also couldn't be in the Tampa Bay area without seeing a hydrogen media Billboard. Correct. At one time, and was that a mosquito on or what was that?

 

04:27

Well, so there was another company that's competing against us called brain buzz that had a porn ID or a mosquito or something like that. But you know it. When there's a brain board, I'm sorry, when there's a billboard competition in town, you often get this insert Miss misinterpreted as being that other brand, but yes, you know, one way to get recognized is to leverage what someone else is already doing and capitalize on that. And so we had a competitor called brain buzz that had a hornet or a bee or mosquito or, I don't know could have been killer Hornet that just didn't get discovered till 30 years later, I'm not sure.

 

Jeff Sterns  04:58

So that wasn't on your bill. Bored.

 

05:00

No wasn't mine just wasn't even a competitor, just another tech company trying to get some some recognition.

 

Jeff Sterns  05:06

So if you wonder it like when people say, oh my memories perfect, I remember everything. I mean, you ask 10 people what happened at a bank robbery or for composite artists drawing and it's all different. And here's me trying to like, Oh, no, I remember Kevin, I bet my life on it. Yeah, he had this billboard. So let's look at a little bit more of Kevin's bio. So definitely with his an entrepreneurial tech background, he's for sure an accomplished communicator, and you're hearing him speak now. So you already know that, for sure. Phenomenal strategist and leader. I mean, what his companies have done speak for themselves. And he's been but he's been recognized officially, as leader of the Year by Tampa Chamber of Commerce, a technology leader of the Year by Tampa Bay technology forum, marketer of the Year by Tampa Bay American advertising Federation, the ultimate CEO, and that's only because I probably wasn't competing by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. And his speaking engagements, has had him along other brands like Google and Facebook and Carnival Cruise Lines, General Motors, and presented keynote at the US Chamber of Commerce. I mean, it goes on and on. But what's most interesting recently, is you've merged with another company. And you told me that the numbers aren't really out there or measured, but it's safe to say you're in one of the top few privately held advertising and marketing agencies. I have that right.

 

06:29

Yeah, we're apparently a digital advertising agency, Jeff, about our team about 175 people across the United States as a pure digital agency. And I don't know of a pure digital agency that's probably held that that size, after we've completed this merger, back on January 1.

 

Jeff Sterns  06:46

Well, you deserve it. And Kevin's also very, very active, I'm sick and tired. You know, I've got this brand new baby got a five month old daughter. So we're kind of coming out of that celebration, ol cake every night, kind of not really worrying about when waking up because we are woken up 10 times throughout the night. And every morning on Facebook, I see Kevin like, you know, his rise and shine or whatever without on the beach running at 5am. What time do you go running? sex? Yeah, you're a nutcase.

 

07:15

It's pre sunrise, social distancing runs Jeff and this past Monday marked the 50 week 52 week anniversary of the sunrise, pre sunrise, social distancing runs. And this is why you still look 27 gotta do something

 

Jeff Sterns  07:33

very frustrating, very free. One thing about me is you'd never be able to tell my age because I always other than selling cars, always having a convertible and always having a boat. I was rarely in the sun.

 

07:43

Well, and I say that too. for 35 years I've lived in Florida. I think about less than 10% of that time, I didn't drive a convertible and have a boat and have a jetski. And so the only time it wouldn't be it's just early in my days, you know, I didn't have a jetski yet because they didn't run out yet. Right? They came a couple years later, but living on Clearwater Beach for almost all of that time. I can remember being like the first or second guy in Clearwater Beach to have a jetski and nobody knew what those things were. Did I use sunscreen back then? really not that often right? And so I'm sure there's some regret coming down the road. But still today, you know, a drive, you know, I've got a convertible, another car coming with T tops, you know, boats, jet skis, all that type of stuff. And I do use sunscreen now I carry sunscreen in the center console of my convertible. And I do apply it before I spent too much time in the sun.

 

Jeff Sterns  08:30

Well back then. I mean when we were kids and you'd go to the beach, so you knew you got good sun. We used to be excited that you had the white crow's feet. Like look man, I got them I got the white guy you know. Okay, so you are a car let's go a little bit in the origin. You are a stone car guy. I mean, this is this show is called connected through cars. It doesn't mean that you have to be a car dealer doesn't. It just means that we're in the cars we know each other. So but you have some serious car business pedigree. Do you mind going into that a little bit?

 

08:59

Yeah, sure. So my father's a Ford dealer. So I grew up my entire life with my mom and dad being in the car business. My dad started as a general manager at a Ford store became a general Chevy store became a Chevy Datsun Nissan store and, and then eventually, you know, more into the Ford family and some others but you know, I've grown up my entire life not knowing anything differently than my dad being in the car business. And my mom and dad always, you know, got demonstrators and you know, they've rarely lasted, you know, six weeks you know, and they'd be getting a new car and I remember since I was this big until still when I go see my parents and he's got a new car in the driveway today. I just wanted to go check out what the new car is change the seat position, listen to the radio real quick and, and my dad you know as a kid, he bring home a car for you or my mother. When I was in grade school or high school and I'd moved the seat to my comfort position, turn the stereo to my to my stereo spot. Next morning I'd be gone at school and he'd get another car to go leave and he had to move the seat and adjust the stereo. He sent him sideways. I wouldn't know when I got home from school that day, from my mother that my dad was furious that I gotten in the car the night before. I just couldn't stop that habit. I just loved cars. And so when I became an adult, I just started to want to trade cars pretty quickly. And then one day, you know, was probably 2021 years old, I got a letter from the state of Florida saying I was violating the law. Because I bought or sold more than three motor vehicles that year in the state of Florida, you can't sell more than three motor vehicles without an automobile dealer license. And so, you know, at this time, I was dating a girl and I bought three in her name and three in mind and kind of skirted the system that way, and they get dated another girl on you, someone hurt to get to some of that too. And eventually, I got married. And so I only had one girl I could do this with and eventually I got my own auto dealer license in 1998. And I kept it for 13 years, just running my own collection, probably buying and selling about 12 cars a year. Mostly fun stuff that I wanted to have kind of semi exotic, luxury vehicles and just kept stepping up the bigger and better ones. But still, to this day, I still trade a lot of boats did you get?

 

Jeff Sterns  11:08

Did you get a wholesale or retail license,

 

11:12

both both at a warehouse, I had a warehouse in Clearwater, Florida, and it held five cars and and I typically kept three inventory at a time I usually had a super nice luxury sedan at a super high end fast convertible sports car. And then something else I thought a good a good deal on that I could make some money on to cover some of the losses. Did you usually make or lose? I got good. So I'm a competitive guy, I hate to lose. Some people said do you love to win? Or do you hate to lose? When I really think about it, I think I hate to lose more than I love to win. And so losing money on a car was always a bad day winning was great. But losing was I thought about the losses more than I celebrated the winds. And so at the end, I was making about 1750 a car and keeping stuff about 90 or 100 days.

 

Jeff Sterns  12:00

Okay, so you're about it about the average average profit without having the back end. So, so you didn't have a finance department, you weren't making money on the loan, you weren't making money on a warranty? No, but

 

12:13

I think what I did differently is is that, you know, for the cars I was trying to buy, you go to the auction, and you get to the Mercedes dealer there, the Porsche dealer, their Ferrari dealer, or whatever it could be, they're going to continue to say yes, because nobody could sell that brand new vehicle on that same brands used car lot than that dealer, right. So I never went, I had auction access. And I did go often to learn, I rarely bought because I couldn't, I couldn't sell it for the same price that a retail dealer selling that same brand of core could. So I was the guy that just did what I called a lot of market research. And I'm a web guy, right. And so, you know, back then this is early days of the web, and I just knew how to look for, you know, on on any given Sunday, when I could cherry pick out of a newspaper, a classified ad of a newspaper that you can find had listings online, or out of the out of the auto trader or any other type of when they source I was out there canvassing this stuff looking for something I hadn't driven yet, or something wanted to get another one of. And I just waited for any given Sunday where some seller, you know, got an offer to trade it in for x and I made him an offer for x plus 100 bucks. And he felt that victory there. But you know, I made my margin by cherry pick my buying low, being patient and finding cars at different sources than the people I was competing against buying them were spending their time. And

 

Jeff Sterns  13:27

so let's talk about that. A second brings out an interesting point to me. I've had many customers, let me know. So I ran dealerships for 27 years, or I sold cars for a long time random for maybe 20 years. And I've had customers let me know when they didn't take my trade value from time to time that they got more for it. Right. And, and frankly, usually less. So let's talk about that for a second. So when somebody puts a car we you know, it's funny in the paper, I mean, people want to paper when someone advertises their own vehicle, it's why are they trying to do it? Why are they putting it there? Because they don't want to get more than the dealer offered them. Usually, when somebody is looking to buy private, why are they doing it? They're doing it because they already know what they can buy it for from a dealer and they're trying to save a little you have a little bit of a conflicting mission. This one's only there because they want more. This one's only there because they want less. And once in a while to do a client like Kevin would let me know from time to time, I was able to buy a car like yours cheaper private, or I was able to sell my car for a little more than you offered private. But the term Kevin Hughes was cherry picking. Yep. You could bide your time and wait for the absolute right opportunity that absolute right time to fire your missile and get it in the one meter opening through the Deathstar. Right. You didn't have to do any volume. No, you didn't have to buy 10 more or your shelves are empty, no, etc etc. So, car buyers, I want to defend car D There's a little bit that it's not. No, it's not necessarily that they were under offering for your trade or trying to nail you on what they're trying to sell you. They're buying with volume in mind, meaning they're forced to buy when Kevin said he went to the auction, and he's competing against a Mercedes dealer, whatever that's keeping their hand up at the auction until they leave us something, it's because they've got five open holes in their lot, and they can't sell from an empty shelf. And they got to pay whatever they got to pay to get something where Kevin would wait, wait, wait a week, three months, you know, whatever it was. So please understand the difference between the cherry picking opportunity to buy or sell, versus a situation where you're forced to continue to do business and need to make money you know, on either side. So you couldn't sustain that at very big volume. What you were

 

15:46

no volume to sustain that I was buying 12 cars a year, right. And I was waiting one week to three months to but you're just today Today my favorite. My fun card today is I drive a McLaren 650s spider. I bought it 14 months ago. But I made the guy an offer for on July 4 weekend of 2019. And he sold me the car the week after Christmas of December 2019. And all of that journey, I only changed my original offer price to what I ended up paying him by 20 $500 he changed his selling price by $17,500. So his example is doing cherry picking that McLaren. He was in Minnesota. It was it was December in Minnesota, that car wasn't coming out of the garage for three or four more months. And he had to make a decision was he going to sell it at a price he really didn't want to Are we going to hold it for four or five more months and let depreciation end up with the probably a smaller price at the end, when spring came time came to. That's what cherry picking is there's no sustainability about it. And most people don't have the stamina to do all that. And, and to me, it's just part of the game is part of the challenge as part of the fun

 

Jeff Sterns  16:55

with all of your spare time because you're running a multi state company and you're a little bored.

 

16:59

Yeah, yeah. But I'd say to to your point about that in other Mercedes you're standing up to. I think there's a couple other facts. I absolutely agree with everything you said there, Jeff, I think there's two other factors to it as well. I think sometimes an owner's pride comes into into play to the person who rejected the dealer's offer for the trade and sometimes has a pride issue about going back and asking him to take that same offer. And I think pride gets in the way of common sense and pride over rule. So they don't want to come back with their tail between their legs, because they have too much pride. And so they think they're winning by not going back to that selling dealer. They're, they're saving some ego or some embarrassment. And so I think that's a driving factor. Sometimes it may have started, they thought they were going to get more money. When they went to go to the experience, they realized this delta really isn't worth their time. They just have too much pride to have to go back with their tail between their legs and go up, you know, and go apologize or admit that they were wrong. I think that's that's another contributing factor.

 

Jeff Sterns  17:56

They don't want it right. So what you're saying, Kevin is, someone tells the dealer not only No, but hell no. And there's no way you'll get my business. You rip off artists dealer, and they leave with their car, then they advertise it, advertise it, advertise it, and they end up not doing any better or much better. They might do a little better. But by the time they lose the sales tax credit for trading it in or something, they end up in a similar situation, or they made three more payments. Or like you said it depreciated, or on a car like a McLaren. Although for the general public, we're not talking about mclarens. But sure something heavy, there's a little bit of a carrying charge. That's, you know, that's a piece of real estate. Absolutely, absolutely, yes, no, now they don't want to go back and they might even lose 100 versus go back to the dealer and say you were right. I now I need to take your offer.

 

18:42

Yeah, I think it's gonna be way more than 100 their, their ego and their pride, it's worth more than a couple, you know, hundreds or 1000s if they made a mistake on when they turned down the original offer. But they're but they're there. They're willing to swallow that in their learning experience. Like you said, they probably made two or three payments on the car, in and of itself, the trade difference, all of that, but their pride, their their pride and their ego probably prevent them from in some cases. And that's where the cherry pick opportunity sometimes exists.

 

Jeff Sterns  19:08

So I'm talking to Kevin and I knew that he'd run this hydrogen media. I know that he has Bayshore solutions. He's a digital marketing agency. He's a CEO, I expected this to be about business. I knew we'd have a car component in there because I've always known him to be a car nut. And I've always known he's had a lot of cars. I did not know about the dealer license. That's interesting to know, think about how much somebody has to love cars and be enough of a freak to on the side. Say let me go ahead and get my dealer license so that I can go above the legal state limit that I could buy as a private owner. And if you think about it, when we were kids, we used to go through girlfriends I'm sure girls watching used to go through boyfriends. Because when you're young you start getting a little bored or lack of compatibility or see somebody new or whatever. You're not landed yet. You're not committed yet. Yep. would start looking for new girlfriends that were marks. The first thing he would say before he asked for a number is how many cards have you had registered to your name this year?

 

20:10

As a qualifying question, it was important.

 

Jeff Sterns  20:13

I've already gotten to this year. Oh,

 

20:17

can you introduce me to your girlfriend was the next line?

 

Jeff Sterns  20:19

Thanks. Goodbye, right. That was your criteria. That's frickin Haller. I just love that. So let's back up your dad was a GM you you grew up like a nutcase. You couldn't help leaving the car seat in your position and radio, which my kids do to me. So you know, I get it. And you and they deserve the beatings?

 

20:37

Yes, of course,

 

Jeff Sterns  20:38

yes. But you end up going into business and you end up going into the digital business. So explain how you got into that and how you couldn't let go of the car business, which cracks me up. I'm like, you're in it with a dealer license?

 

20:49

Well, and it's just it. There's all some intertwined into the stories, right? So I remember coming home from college one year, and my dad asked me, one day said, Hey, Kevin, like, Hey, what are you going to do this summer? I'm like, oh, Dad, you know, man, it was tough semester, like I got beat up. I gotta figure out what I'm going to do when I go back to here next semester. And this and that thing I spend this summer kind of reflecting and figuring out like, where my path is, and this and that is like, Wow, that sounds amazing. Because you'll till next Friday to get a job, or I'm going to get one for you. And we kind of been through this the prior summer before. And I called this bluff. That didn't work out to my advantage. And so I come home that Friday night, you know, he's like to get a job like dad when I applied to places but you can't get a job like people don't hire overnight. The Sundays like, tomorrow morning, you're going you go dress up in this and you're coming with me at eight o'clock in the morning. And it cost me a job at a Hyundai Dealer. And this is in the mid mid to late 1980s when Hyundai was just coming out. And I get there and I'm going to go sell cars on a Saturday morning. And I'm like this, you know, like, I couldn't have got this job on my own right. And so I'm like if I gonna spend the summer selling up cars into the Hyundai dealership was connected to a Subaru dealership and a Nissan dealership. And while you worked at Hyundai, if somebody wanted to go look at any of their cars, you go sell those other cars. I'm like, Man, look at these 300, zx is down here. I'm like, I'm gonna try to transfer everybody down to go contest over 300 zx. I'm like, this is like my dream job. And so that Saturday, they let me take ups. I've got no training, zilch Oh, training. Let me take up Kevin,

 

Jeff Sterns  22:24

Kevin, not everyone watching this is a car person or from the business.

 

22:29

I got to greet customers they taking up to meet new customers. Yes, taking up screens, I got to interact with customers who are interested by car. The dealership was super busy. I don't think that was by design. But there was nobody else around. And so I did my best to show him what I knew about the car. And I listened to a couple of sales people that day. And I took him for test drives. And I brought three people back into the dealership and we wrote up offers. And they signed them. And I got home that day. And my dad said, hey, how did you do on your first day? Dad, I sold three cars today. And his eyes blew up like this, you sold three cars today. I said he had Dad I did. one guy's bringing his wife in on Monday. The other guys bring this trade in on Tuesday. And they're waiting to hear from the bank from the other one. Sometime later next week. He goes, Kevin, you didn't sell anything, you sold the goose egg, moose egg. And that was the first lesson in the car business until they're driving with the license plate behind the even sell anything. And so you know what an interesting lesson that is. But you know, that whole summer I did learn more about the product and how to make sure that you don't assume that buyer knows about the product because you're trying to grow the value of what they're about to make an offer on. And the more value and emotional attachment they have to what they're making the offer on, the higher they're going to make the offer and the more they're going to want it and the more they're going to negotiate in what and want to take the car home. And so I didn't understand those things just you know, coming home from the summer in college about how important that was about product knowledge, the emotional attachment of a buyer to making an offer and things that nature. But I learned a lot that summer. And that was helpful for anything I did thereafter was in really how to interact with people and you know, not everybody is the same and there's different buying pulses from different people and you know, they're playing poker in front of you and trying to connect with you and things of that nature and learn how to read people meet learn how to read body language, learn how not how to try to take shortcuts, because so often I think sometimes in my observations there, these were my judgments with some of the people who have been there a long time crushed it. And there are other people have been there for a long time who didn't, but the people who weren't crushing it, but they knew more than the management team did. And they tried to take shortcuts to try to get the deal done. Or they prejudge the car coming in. They were buried in the trade meaning there was it was worth it wasn't worth as much as they owed on it. So they want to interrupt that because

 

Jeff Sterns  24:52

I'm because I'm always wanting to explain it to someone not in the business. You know, when Kevin saying you're trying to just so here you are You're a salesperson standing outside waiting for a customer to come in or waiting inside and for them to ask for a salesperson. And they come in and now you're what's called playing angles, you're deciding if it's, here's what you're doing, you're measuring the difficulty of the customer, we're measuring the difficulty of the selling situation, to decide how much effort to give them. That's correct, as opposed to it should be reversed. You should give them all of the effort so that you've earned their business. So when Kevin's talking about upside down in a trade, and he's saying, you see somebody pull up in a car, that maybe is such a late model, that you assume that they owe too much money on it, because they haven't been paying on it long enough or something like that. It By the way, that's judging a book by its cover, and absolutely doesn't go that way every time. But maybe you have a past trauma where it went that way. So now you think everybody that rolls up that looks like that, or acts like that, or has that trait is gonna, it's gonna be the same scenario. And you don't want to wait on them. And you're right back to cherry picking, you're gradually picking the opposite.

 

25:57

That's correct. And so just that that summer, you know, was educational that shaped many things of of what my career later became. And then, as I, you know, got into the digital advertising space. One of the verticals that my company ended up doing very well within was the car business. And our company didn't do necessarily well with a single store, Ford store Chevy store, a single dealer, but we did really well with high end sales where the principal of the dealership was part of the decision making process of who the agency was. And so we ended up you know, we were fortunate enough to have some great brands but I had Beverly Hills, Lamborghini Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Mazda Roddy, which was O'Gara coach, here in the Tampa Bay market, the dimmitt family. But you know, we had some Ferrari stores, but we were definitely really good at when I was getting a chance to present how we would help them from an owner to an owner perspective. We did a great job taking on a lot of great great great car relationships here in the local market, the Reeves family of Porsche, BMW Mas, rottie Audi Range Rover, and we help these people just crush it, crush it. We weren't good with your single store, Ford Chevy Toyota dealer, but when it came, it came to the upper end brands, the approach that we took and the ability to help them start sell cars more quickly. And certainly way more cost effectively on a per unit basis. It was a great run we had for probably about 10 years. And today we don't serve that vertical like we did at one time. But I still got to connect with my dealership guys. And I never missed going to O'Gara coach twice a year. It was fun to go to LA It was fun to go to talk to those guys. But you know, and I am a huge fan of all the brands of cars they sold. And so, you know, I still to this day, talk to the GM of that store. And it

 

Jeff Sterns  27:40

was a great run that that's phenomenal. I of course remember, Bayshore, you were not Bayshore solutions was not necessarily an automotive agency. Correct. But I remembered that certain select because I come from the luxury and exotic space that's like, well, performing dealers. I mean, it's I started picking up the common thread there on Bay Shore. They're on Bay Shore. They're on Bay Shore. I remember O'Gara, I remember Reeves, I don't remember demand on Bay. Sure. But, you know, you say, I believe it. And I think that your philosophy was to not be the big box, automotive retail, where you had it look like every Toyota dealer every week at no knock on Toyota. But the idea was, I think and just correct me if I'm wrong, that a company that serves everybody can't be like, phenomenal for any particular one.

 

28:35

Yeah, I think I think what it is Jeff was just trying to be unique, because at the end of the day, if you're all using the same company with the same approach, how do you get market share from everybody else? And the only answer would be the inventory you had was more desires by the buyers at the moment. And your sales process was better. What we did is we took a unique approach, but I promised I wouldn't work for their competition. And the unique approach to in certainly spent a significant difference with me, I wasn't trying to sell on a on hundreds of dollars a month basis, I was selling on 10s and 10s of 1000s of dollars a month basis. But guaranteed I wouldn't work for your competition, and certainly didn't make them sign long term contracts and maintain many those relationships for 10 years.

 

Jeff Sterns  29:13

Beautiful. So can we talk a little bit about and if you don't want to talk about hydrogen media, we don't have to. But let me back up a little more. Because I because what I like to offer, you know the value that the steak that I want to offer to the listener that really want to deliver value on this podcast. I mean, I'm enjoying visiting with you no doubt. So that's self indulgent. But what I really want to deliver is someone to say, you know, Jeff, bring some people on, they can really teach you some lessons. So I want them because you're successful guy in a lot of not just financially but a lot of facets of life. So when you sold Hyundai's I gotta get back to that because I've been dying. Anyone that sold cars or is in the retail car business that's not in it anymore. I always like to ask them, How long did you sell Hyundai's three months?

 

29:55

I did it for a summer. I did it for summer. Yes. Okay. Two to three months.

 

Jeff Sterns  30:00

Would you agree that everyone that gets out of school should probably travel and should probably sell cars for some period of time?

 

30:08

I think I think yes, I think those experiences are things that curriculum can't teach you. Right. So I recommend going to school too. But there's many ways to learn curriculum is one school of hard knocks is another through others experiences another, you know, I don't know if one way is better than the other. But I think getting a good blend of all of them creates a very rough, well rounded, educated person, you're traveling abroad, if you can do so fantastic, it's going to be something the old be able to do later, and you're going to learn a lot of experiences of life, you know, selling cars, you really do learn a lot, and you learn a lot. And it's applicable later in life. And there can be training rich environments, and there can be not so training rich environments that you're learning from experience, but it can also teach you how to be hungry. And it can show you how different people handle things. And back to our old example just a moment ago about people pre judging cars coming into a dealership lot and how much attention they wanted to give. And, you know, Jeff, those who pre judged it didn't want to give any attention to them, what was competing for their time that they were going to go spend if they didn't spend quite great quality time with these people, right? Go sitting on the front doorstep, smoking cigarettes outside in the heat, I mean, the only competition that was spending time with that person was to go be doing nothing else, right. And so you know, they just had the wrong mindset. And you know, some of these experiences just teach you how to be able to create the right mindset. It can teach you about what direction you want to go and how you want to position yourself in the direction and the goals you want to set for yourself and how you want to carry on how you want to carry yourself and in how you want to set your own agenda and stuff like this. And I'd have those experiences, I don't know if I would have been able to create the agenda and the path that ended up coming on. I think those those experiences, some of them are great. I don't want to talk about hydrogen media and I have no blockers to doing so. But a lot of those experiences weren't so great, but boy did I learn it but it helped shape me and mold me and teach me how to be better. And you know, there's nothing to my career and say I regret there's there's things I wish that didn't be so painful and so harmful. But at the end of the day, they only made me stronger and helped me be more tenacious and set higher goals and come back stronger and harder than ever did before.

 

Jeff Sterns  32:08

You have an I had a salesperson apply when I was running the Cadillac store, who was a seasoned salesperson, he was in the insurance business, that for his prior 10 or 20 years. He was older than me Everyone was I was say 30 at the time, so everyone I'm hiring could be my big brother or father and he had traveled the nation opening insurance offices, and then advertising to hire and recruit, and then train the salespeople and then go to another territory. So you know, he's got work ethic, you know, he's got self starting, you know, it doesn't have to be supervised. He certainly understands selling. And he wants to work at this Cadillac Landrover dealership for whatever reasons he wants to work there. And I'm interviewing him and I'm like, I don't know, man. I don't know. He's like, I've sold. He says lipstick to Lear jets. He sold makeup. He sold fractional jet time, he opened insurance offices. He was a seasoned salesperson, right? Is God rest his soul. He's not what his name is read. He said. I said, Randy, I'm telling you right now, and I'm telling this to an adult, I'm telling this to like a 50 year old, I'm 30. Right? So he seems like a grown up to me. I'm like, Randy, you're gonna if you do this, you'll learn more about the human condition in the next 12 months. telling people what their trading is worth, then you've learned in your last 2030 years doing whatever you're doing.

 

33:25

So true. below. I'm

 

Jeff Sterns  33:27

glad you agree. baloney, baloney, baloney. The reason I had reservations about hiring them, and I'll explain to the listeners now is I was you know, Kevin mentioned a training rich environment, I was heavy, heavy, heavy training guy. And I'd found that when I brought in season people that I had a hard time getting them to bend in my way cuz they already knew everything. So I tend to hire the greener younger person or the inexperienced person, which made me counter to probably 75% of the car industry that just give me somebody who knows what they're doing. And, you know, right. fill the empty desk, but I only want to know my way. That was my way. Okay. So I was always afraid to take a guy who was a business owner or entrepreneurial or older than me, because I just didn't think I could break his habits. Right. So we end up hiring Randy did a terrific job. But he came back to me about a year later. He says, Do you remember our interview? And I said, Of course he goes, you're totally right. That's great. I didn't know a thing about people until it's you know, selling cars. So the reason I want to bring up hydrogen media is I don't want to make this the losing venture our Yeah. You first of all, it was a very gutsy and goal oriented thing that you took on that. I don't want to say you're under prepared for cuz I don't really know what happened. Yeah, that didn't go the way you wanted. But yeah, there's got to be a couple lessons to take.

 

34:56

Yeah, absolutely. So I think you know, I'm the proud of So my company today Yeah, it was a company called hydrogen media and we were a.com darling. Right. So we started the company in 1996 as a as a website design and development company charging $500 for a website. Fast forward to three years later, 1999. We've got 23 employees to 30. were charging 70 $500 for a website. And I had a couple partners and in all of a sudden we got started getting approached about do we want to take our company public? We raised $14 million. Open five offices are in the US one abroad, and we're writing the times of the.com bubble. And then if we are good in our industry, but we were in our industry, and anybody who was in the industry was on an incoming tide and it was going into hard and fast it was a big tide right? So we're just riding the wave riding the wave growing like crazy went from 30 employees to 225 employees in less than 18 months. filed the next one hire Deutsche Bank to take us public what we waltzing down Wall Street reading the Wall Street Journal every day and watching companies just like ours go public watching these guys like us. So we're in our early 30s, late 20s, early 30s you know, going from being worth you know, what's in our wallet to being worth $150 million each and all kinds of stuff. And we're like man, like are like Are we almost there and you know, we were almost there right? Then the.com bubble explodes.

 

36:24

This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars.

Kevin Hourigan

For more than 24 years, Kevin has led Bayshore Solutions through growth and change
to its current position as a leading end-to-end digital marketing and technology
agency. He keeps his ever-growing team of digital experts energized and focused on
growing Bayshore Solutions clients’ businesses.
With an entrepreneurial technology background, Kevin is an accomplished
communicator, strategist and leader. He has been recognized as Leader of the Year by
The Tampa Chamber of Commerce; Technology Leader of the Year by the Tampa Bay
Technology Forum; Marketer of the Year by Tampa Bay American Advertising
Federation; and as “Ultimate CEO” by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. He has spoken
alongside brands including Google, Facebook, Carnival Cruise Lines, and General
Motors, and presented the keynote at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business
Summit.
Kevin has served on numerous boards, including the USF College of Advertising;
Executive Committee of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce; and as Digital Marketing
and Media Chair for the SE US and Caribbean for YPO International.
When not leading clients to victory, Kevin enjoys hitting the open water on his boat,
playing a round of golf, skiing and just about any outdoor activity. He is full of signature
sayings such as, “The easy thing is to do what the customer asks–the right thing is to do
what they need” and “Plan your work, work your plan.”  You’ll hear these and many
more when you spend time with him.