Fast Rings, the Minnesota car audio retailer turned supplier for acoustic speaker kits, is rapidly expanding into a full scale International venture.
Fast Ring’s acoustic door kits for speakers are on track to nearly quadruple in sales this year over last. The company has signed on leading retail chains including Car Toys, Seattle, Al & Ed’s Autosound, Los Angeles and Custom Sounds, Austin, TX and another top retailer that will be named soon.
The company is now selling in international markets and is in the process of licensing the kits to other suppliers.
Fast Rings claims 225 registered dealers (and many more storefronts) plus distributors in the US. It has also begun working with manufacturer reps.
Owner Ben Larson also owns the 2-store Sound Connection in MN. He admits that Fast Rings had been a side business over the past few years, but it is now his main focus and he has assigned most of the day to day management of his two stores to the General Manager, John Larson, his brother.
Making the switch from a retailer to a supplier was not easy and there were challenges almost every step of the way over the past five years.
“It’s been a long road. At first we had to patent the idea. It was a long tedious process. We got a utility patent, which is more expensive and stronger than a design patent. That was 6,500 bucks and we had to find the right patent attorney…We had to find a manufacturing facility, we wanted it local, made in the US…” Larson said.
A local plant happened to produce foam packing for computer printers and other goods. The plant manager was once an installer for Best Buy by coincidence. “He was willing to take us on even though we were doing small runs and we do some work on his car once in a while,” said Larson.
Shipping was a challenge–finding the right box to fit as many kits for the best rates and figuring out how to maximize the space in the box. Larger retailers found that inventory was a problem with the raw shipments so the company had to create its own retail packaging for the kits.
They tried doing the packing themselves, which was a “nightmare.” But again, a lucky break paid off. Larson’s wife works with the mentally handicapped, and some of her clients work at a local facility called Wacosa that provides easy jobs for the mentally challenged. This proved a great place for the packing of Fast Rings.
Fast Rings started when Larson wanted to improve the process of acoustically sealing door speakers. It was time consuming and customers would wonder why they were paying an extra $30 for an acoustical upgrade, when all he could show the customer was some copper tape.
He began making laser cut foam rings with an industrial-grade peel away adhesive backing. A kit of three rings can can mount around the speaker and the installation surface. It improves the projection of the audio into the car cabin and reduces unwanted rear reflections that can degrade the sound, said Larson.
For more information email [email protected].
Photo: Larson at KnowledgeFest in August.