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Real World Retail, April Issue: Never Too Late - The Sound Shop

Becoming fulfilled in life meant a willingness to take risks and learn as much as possible for David Phillips, owner of The Sound Shop in Indian Trail, N.C. After working at several shops, including a big box giant, Phillips chose the hard road and found himself through the path of entrepreneurship. 

Mobile Electronics April Issue, 4/1/2016 -- Finding one's path in life is a goal most people hope to achieve. The sad truth is that many fail. Either they succumb to fear and choose the easy route or follow the wrong path, not clearly seeing the difference between that path and the one that will best fit them. For David Phillips, owner of The Sound Shop in Indian Trail, N.C., the path to finding his life's fulfillment was more like a roundabout.  

Starting out like many others in car audio, Phillips' passion began in high school when a friend introduced him to the field. After hanging out with his friend at events, he decided to join in and start doing his own builds. His lack of money didn't stop him from finding a way to build box enclosures and perform installs for friends throughout high school.

Once he reached college, Phillips worked part-time at a local 12-volt shop in Charlotte, N.C. "It was one of those places I started working but saw everything was wrong and learned what not to do," he said.

Soon enough, his time in college lingered without a true focus. Starting out as a graphic design major, Phillips eventually landed on business management, graduating with a bachelor's degree that took eight years to achieve.

"While still in college, I got a job at a high-end shop called Circuit Werks in Monroe, N.C. I went with a customer of mine to get parts for an install. They noticed how knowledgeable I was and offered me a chance at a job," Phillips said. "I had to compete with another candidate in a two-week trial but eventually got the job. I started in 2003 and worked there for five years doing things like alarms, remote starts and custom work."

According to Phillips, many of his fabrication ideas were developed from reading various car magazines like Euro Low Rider and Mini Truckin'. Some of his custom work included paneling trunks and building amp racks. The shop then started doing vinyl graphics and striping police cars, eventually becoming the only work Phillips did there for his last six months. Wanting to have more variety, and make more money, Phillips hit up a friend who worked at a local Ford dealership. He soon left to work at the dealership as an automotive technician, but realized quickly he had made a mistake.

"I didn't like being greasy all the time. I wasn't into diagnosing problems. I did it for a year to try it out," Phillips said. "During that time, I racked up credit card debt and needed a part-time job to get out of debt. I went to a shopping center and dropped off résumés at several places, including a Best Buy. They called me in to work there part-time, then they offered me a full-time position to run bay."

For the next four years, Phillips would run the installation bay at Best Buy, doing mostly stock installations of car audio equipment. There was no fabrication work, no vinyl graphics work. There was also no fun.   

"Most people's careers go opposite of that. When I went backwards to Best Buy, it was kind of easy. Deck and floor all day, speakers and radios, subs once in a while. At first I was excited because it was easy, but it wasn't very fulfilling. That Best Buy was part of budget cuts across the country and was closed. After that, I decided it was time to open my own shop."

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