How Steve Saporito’s Dare 2B Different! Has Paid Off
Dare 2B Different! owner Stephen Saporito attended the recent SEMA Show. In addition to running his growing retail operation, Saporito produces Glassskinz rear-window valences for a variety of car models, as seen here on a display Mustang S550 owned by Ray Cordoba.
Based in Rockledge, Florida, Dare 2B Different! Enterprises is a small operation consisting of owner Stephen Saporito, his wife Zetty Gamboa-Saporito, and fulltime graphic designer Joseph Stuller. Starting his company almost as an afterthought in 2005, Saporito has since grown it into a thriving retailer and manufacturer earning seven figures a year retailing a carefully selected stock of OEM-replacement parts for a variety of applications. In addition, he produces his own Glassskinz-brand rear-window valances. It’s a testament to how far belief in an idea, long hours, perseverance and a willingness to understand underserved markets can take a business. In this interview, SEMA News asked what he does differently.
SEMA News: Can you tell us a little about your business? When did you start it and why?
Steve Saporito: The business had an odd start, to say the least. I worked for a Toyota dealership in sales and was one of the top 50 sales reps in the Southeast. Toyota introduced Scion, which I completely fell in love with. The dealer principle called me into his office and explained that he had no clue what to do with this brand but had a feeling that I would. So I became the chief for Scion at the dealership and was later tapped to participate in an ad competition held by Scion corporate. I created an award-winning ad featuring three cartoon Scion xBs, one of which was a custom yellow.
The next thing I knew, the RS 2.0 xB comes out three months later in solar yellow, and then it all began. I bought the Solar Yellow xB and turned the cartoon into reality. It became the Scionpro Funky Disco Taxi, which I used to bring business to the dealership with our ad slogan, Dare 2B Different! (D2BD). It was so successful that I trademarked it and began a business developing Scion products. As the market grew, we added more items from other manufacturers and became a manufacturer and retailer of other brands.
We now concentrate on our Glassskinz-brand rear-window valances, Air Suspension by Airlift Performance, for whom we are a warehouse distributor, and also Airforce Suspension from Japan. D2BD will continue to grow its brands as we get ready to release yet another product for the wheel market in late spring. Additionally, the D2BD brand has been used locally for anti-bullying mini shows at elementary schools. We’ve had a team of themed xBs show up to engage the children with the vehicle differences translating that personalization into a message that to it’s okay to be different. The kids ate up our stickers, as you can imagine, which left us with a sense of well-being knowing that we had made a difference.
SN: How has D2BD grown since its founding? How do you measure your success?
SS: When the company started, it was simply a website that was more of a blog before blogs existed. Then we added the store and cart to sell products. In general it drove traffic to the dealership for sales for me. We sold some parts to keep the site up and running, fresh and to pay for the xB build. We were generating a paltry $40,000–$60,000 a year from 2005 to 2010. It was simply a hobby.
I retired from auto sales and dedicated myself full time in 2011. Sales have continuously climbed from 2011 to now, with just two years that were essentially flat. We will break the seven-figure mark this year.
It’s still essentially a one-man band. Success is measured in that—through a recession and with no funding or investors—D2BD is still here growing, still providing for my family, and doing so with excellent customer service and impeccable D2BD brand quality.
In a nutshell, my dream is still alive, and I’m striving to become a well-recognized SEMA brand. My main 2019 goal is to have Glassskinz accepted into the SEMA Data Co-op and achieve Platinum-level supplier status.
SN: You’ve branded three separate websites along the way. What’s the strategy behind that?
SS: Multiple websites allow more targeted product concentration per site. Creating a recognized independent brand on social media is also very helpful. Each site/page has its own followers and loyalist base. As long as you can maintain the quality of service with equal rules across the sites, it’s a successful strategy. I currently own and operate D2BDMotorwerks.com, Glassskinz.com, and now just opened Airforcesuspension.com. Next year, our wheel products page will open mid-year. All are owned under Dare 2B Different! Enterprise Inc.
SN: Your business distinguishes itself by addressing a bilingual market. What attracted you to the Spanish-speaking demographic, and how do you appeal to it?
SS: I’ve found that the Spanish-speaking market is generally ignored. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the effort required. Maybe the attraction for me is because my grandparents on both sides came here from Europe not speaking the language. Growing up in Brooklyn was also an influence, dealing with so many different languages.
I understand that this is the United States and English is the primary language; however, that will not be the case in the near future. Spanish is growing steadily, and those clients prefer to conduct business in their native language. We are the world’s melting pot, and if you block out a portion of the market, it’s your loss.
I’ve done nothing extraordinary to attract the Hispanic base other than to accommodate it. My Spanish is fairly good and getting better, as my wife is from Venezuela. With today’s [artificial intelligence] translator technologies, there’s no reason to ignore requests or phone calls from clients who don’t speak English, and my wife takes the ones I can’t translate. It does require extra effort, but the results show in the bottom line. Word spreads organically, and our base has grown tremendously.
I also find great gratitude from these clients and have actually received thank-you cards in the mail as well as direct thank-you emails. That makes it all the more worthwhile. A little respect, understanding and effort can go a long way, and I gladly accept that challenge.
SN: A lot of businesses have difficulty understanding Millennials, but you’ve also had great success marketing to them. How have you bridged that gap?
SS: Millennials are a generation that befuddles marketers, frustrates so many and just gets a bad rap. It’s not as difficult an egg to crack as it’s made out to be. As a Gen Xer, I straddle three generations with the same strategy: Shut up and listen.
Dare 2B Different! Enterprises
Stephen Saporito, Owner
915 Beryl Dr.
Rockledge, FL 32955
Millennials have grown up from day one with technology and the “noise” it generates constantly. So they have a highly developed filter that tends to skip over a lot of information like speed-reading. Things get lost in that filtering, but all it takes for a brand rep is to ask a few pointed questions and then listen.
Millennials want a business bond with a real person based on trust. Although they have so much information literally at their fingertips, it’s very difficult for them to absorb it all, translate it, and extrapolate what they personally need to make a buying decision.
They do have the desire to build cars and the desire and means to buy your product. But they generally prefer to save up and pay cash, since they have an aversion to credit cards. They also tend to manage money well and prefer financing options over credit cards. Financing is more flexible, often has a simple interest or flat fee structure, and is more transparent.
Offering finance plans is a great strategy to appeal to that market. If you take care of your client, deliver as promised, and provide the extensive after-purchase support they tend to need, you’ll gain a solid following. In the end, human nature is human nature. Be kind, patient and make the extra effort to listen, and it will all work out just fine.