Wil Vitela, Owner of Avparts.com

Wil Vitela, Owner of Avparts.com

Age: 31

Education: Business coursework at Fullerton Junior College

Career History: Vitela was a mere 15 years old when he applied for a California reseller’s permit and started hocking salvaged VCRs, microwaves, camcorders and speakers at weekend flea markets. “There was no electricity in my [booth],” he remembered. “So, I’d tell people, ‘I’ll come to your house and show you how it works.’ I was essentially giving away free services and installation to sell product.”

Vitela began selling electronics for Sears when he was just 16. The next year, he switched to Circuit City in Fullerton, Calif., where he worked (“We wore ties and blazers back then.”) for four years, becoming the only associate authorized to sell in every department of the store. In those days, Circuit City wasn’t offering home installation, so Vitela won customers’ loyalty by visiting their homes and hooking up systems on his off-hours.

“By the time I was 21, I had so many side gigs doing hook-up jobs that I decided to become an independent contractor.”

In 2001, Vitela opened his own custom retail showroom, Home Theater Tech, a business he still runs today, along with his own appliance design and manufacturing company, Avparts.com.

Greatest Business Achievement: “Creating a business, Avparts.com, with an entirely different distribution model. Our Web site has real-time inventory, a knowledge base to help installers with their estimates, and unique products. We also offer installers 24-hour pickup.”

Advice: “Quit downsizing your offerings. Too many installers do only one estimate and they need to start doing three per customer: good, better and best. Shockingly, the customer doesn’t generally want the lowest bid. People are willing to spend more because they want it to last longer. This works.”

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