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By Mike Garrison
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
Last week it was announced that Beach RC Hobbies will be the new USA distributor for JQ Racing products. We've caught up with Beach RC owner, Brent Densford, to discuss the new deal, the highs and lows of owning a hobby shop, upcoming events at Beach RC Raceway, and more.
LiveRC: Welcome Brent to this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday! For those who don’t know you, you are the founder/owner of Beach RC Hobbies – which has just been announced as the new USA distributor of JQ Racing products. First, how did you get started in R/C racing?
Brent: For Christmas in ’87 my Pops built a Tamiya Falcon for me. I actually stumbled across the work bench one night and saw it half built. I was super excited. I remember going to the local hobby shop from time to time to run on their outdoor track but never competed. At that time I was racing BMX bikes and racing Quarter Midgets. Fast forward to ’95. A few of my closest friends and I all bought RC race kits. I got a Losi XXT CR. Soon after we found our way to MHOR RC down in Aurora, CO. We would load up in my buddy’s Jeep and drive 70 miles once a week to race and buy upgrades. I eventually got into 2wd buggy as well but that came a little later. It was great times. We did it purely for fun and to hang out with each other.
LiveRC: Aside from being a hobby shop and track owner, you are an avid racer as well – winner of the Concours Contest at this year’s ROAR 1/8 Off-Road Fuel Nats even. How often do you race, and what are your primary classes you race the most?
Brent: I definitely take pride in the aesthetics of my rides. It was awesome to win the Concourse at the Fuel Nats for my painter Chris Rupp (CR Graphics). That been said, I love racing. I have been racing something competitively since I was 5. The first 3-4 years of Beach RC I wasn’t able to race as much as I would have liked, but thats the nature of the business. I try to club race every Wednesday night here at the shop. I concentrate mainly on 2wd buggy and 4wd buggy, maybe stock or mod. Whatever the biggest classes are at the time. My passion has always been oval and I find it is what I am best in. The last couple years I have had some great success in Dirt Oval racing traveling the east coast and competing in the biggest Dirt Oval series in the country. Like the rest of the off-road segment of our industry, I love to run Nitro Buggy but I don’t get to it as much as I would like. The time commitment to do it right doesn’t suit my schedule and really hate to go racing un-prepared.
LiveRC: When and why did you decide to start Beach RC Hobbies?
Brent: In 2013 I was ready for a change. My wife Tiffany was pregnant and for the previous 2-3 years I was working from home doing graphic design and running a national indoor motorcycle racing series, which I traveled every winter almost all winter long. There were days I would just get out of bed and walk to the couch, sit down still in my boxers and play call of duty all day or binge watch movies. Work when needed but never found the desire to excel or achieve. I always wanted to open a hobby shop since way back when I first got started with my best friends. The goal for us was to one day open up a hobby shop, sit around and eat doughnuts all day and play with RC cars all day… Yeah right! LOL.
LiveRC: You often hear people say, “There is no money to be made in owning a track or hobby shop anymore.” As a successful hobby shop and track owner, what is your take on that?
Brent: We are at a very interesting and somewhat exciting time in the industry. Yes it is not an industry you can jump into and make a ton of money in. I would definitely recommend doing tons of research and market analysis before opening up a shop or a track in your area. I think the most common misconception in this business (hobby shop/race track) is that you can open up a shop, craft a track and people will come. Oh and that you get to play with toy cars all day and shoot the breeze with your buddies yada yada. I think that maybe what separates the survivors from the high percentage of shops that have closed down. Shops like myself, SDRC, MHOR, OCRC or Hobby Action to name a few are constantly working towards new ways to bring customers in, promote quality events and adapt to this ever changing industry. That is what it takes to make money, survive and have a healthy business right now in the RC Industry, especially in the performance side of things. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the bigger companies have acknowledged the fact that there is a problem right now and it seems that they are slowly working towards helping the brick and mortar businesses regain some of the market share.
LiveRC: What do you feel is the most important aspect to ensure a successful shop and/or race track?
Brent: Never stop working, don’t be complacent. Listen to your customers, but trust your instincts. Adapt to the times and live within your means. These things will help keep your mind healthy and your customers happy.
LiveRC: It was just announced that Beach RC will be the official distributor of JQ Racing products in the USA moving forward. Tell us a bit about the new deal, and what interested in you becoming a distributor.
Brent: Well as BeachRC.com has grown and our shop has become pretty well known in the industry for a good track and well stocked hobby shop, we have been looking for ways to draw more attention. This year we have launched our own brand of products (Assault RC) and with the exclusivity of the JQ Racing Brand to Beach RC I think that is what interested us the most. Our goal is to make sure that the established JQ Team, Dealers and drivers have a great stock to keep them racing and do our best not to have any lapse in product availability which has been a problem in the past. Our shipping process is great and we are fully motivated to help JQ take this brand to a new level in the U.S.
LiveRC: Will BeachRC oversee the JQ Racing USA race team as well? If so, do you have plans to further grow the team and/or sign a top American driver in 2019?
Brent: Beach RC does not oversee the JQ Racing team in the USA. Will that change in the future? Possibly. Keenan White does a great job and is well respected by all. Yes we have plans to further grow the team as a company. But how much or when is still in discussion. From what I am told, JQ has got irons in the fire and could possibly really turn some heads this coming silly season. But we all know how JQ is… I guess we will just wait and see.
LiveRC: Obviously racing in Europe vs. America is often very different in terms of tracks, surfaces, etc. Will BeachRC be working with JQ on the development side of things, or strictly distribution only?
Brent: As the U.S. team grows and there is more data and information to be had, we will more than likely have our hand in the development of future products. I think the main thing is for JQ to keep his presence in the States strong and for him to work towards building great products all while keeping his hands off of other peoples radios.
LiveRC: With the distribution of JQ Racing Products, will Beach RC continue to carry other brands as a dealer as well?
Brent: ABSOLUTELY! BeachRC.com and Beach Hobbies will still continue to keep all the great brands in stock and available to all the racers, bashers, and crawlers who choose to walk in or order online. The distribution of JQ changes nothing for our business model, it just adds exclusivity to our brand. Those who have been here know that we are adamant about keeping all the parts in stock to service our racers and take care of Beach Nation no matter where they are located. The JQ Product distribution will mainly be to service the dealers and team members as well as retail, but all from a new site (www.JQRacingUSA.com). All brands and current BeachRC.com/Beach Hobbies sales will remain the same and separate.
LiveRC: Beach RC has hosted a number of well-known races over the years including The Masters of Dirt, the Off-Road Showdown, and JConcepts events to name a few. What events are still remaining at Beach RC for 2018?
Brent: Yes we have been fortunate to have built and hosted some great events here at Beach RC. We have the Snap Hard OG Series here the first week of August. Then as we move into fall we host our Annual Dixie Nationals Dirt Oval race which is October 12th-14th. The week after that we will rebuild an insane off-road track for the Masters of Dirt which is October 26th-28th which is quickly becoming one of the most fun and biggest races on the East Coast. And a few weeks after that we rebuild the track yet again for the INS8 Finals held December 7th-9th. It is going to be a super busy fall and winter for sure.
LiveRC: What is the best part of being a hobby shop and race track owner?
Brent: I go to work happy everyday and have made a ton of friends in the process.
LiveRC: What is the worst part of being a hobby shop and race track owner?
Brent: The amount of time it takes to successfully get everything done, people just don’t know how much work goes into ordering product, researching products, building tracks, planning events. It is just so time consuming.
LiveRC: What do you feel is one major key thing we need to change or improve in our industry to continue growing R/C car racing?
Brent: Honestly I would say it’s the culture. I think more and more people are getting into this hobby/sport thinking they will be the next Maifield or Cav. If more people would go to the track to have fun and enjoy the time spent with their friends or competing and less time upset or aggravated we may see more growth and smiling faces.
LiveRC: Thank you so much for joining us today Brent, we know that you are a very busy guy and have a lot to work on this afternoon. Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Brent: Just thank you for everything you guys do for the hobby. If any of you racers see me at a race, come say hi. I love meeting new people. For more information about us and our shop check us out on Facebook @BeachRC or online at www.BeachRC.com. #keepRcFun #BeachNation
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