While working for his father-in-law’s appliance recycling company, Jimmy Vosika noticed broken-screened television sets selling on eBay to people who wanted the units for parts. Intrigued, he began selling whole broken TVs on eBay as a hobby. When Vosika realized that people were buying the sets to obtain one single part, he started taking the sets apart himself and selling the individual components.
Revenues: $2.6 million (2009)
What It Does: Sells replacement parts on line for plasma, LCD, LED, and other flat-panel TVs.
It wasn’t long before Vosika didn’t have time for both his regular job and his hobby, so in 2007 he hired his brother to work in his garage with him, full-time. Five months after leaving his job, he realized he needed a warehouse. “It was never my intent to start a business,” Vosika recalls. “We were so busy and it was doing so well that we just kept going full speed ahead.”
Vosika’s hobby has evolved into ShopJimmy, whose inventory boasts more than 150,000 parts from more than 100 brands of televisions. Revenue is split fairly evenly between three customer groups: consumers, electronic technicians, and extended warranty companies. Revenue in 2009 reached $2.6 million; Vosika expects it to more than double this year.
“We acquire all our parts by buying brand-new TVs that have been damaged in shipping,” he says. “Say a forklift hits the screen of a TV. We’ll buy it from the shipping company or from the retailer it’s delivered to. We harvest the brand-new components inside, test them, and resell them.”
With ShopJimmy receiving four semi loads of TVs—about 1,500 to 2,000 units—a week, the company is on its fourth warehouse, a 20,000-square-foot location in Bloomington. “We actually outgrew that too, but we decided to go with a third-party service provider in Lino Lakes so we didn’t have to keep moving,” Vosika says.
NLA (no longer available) parts account for around 25 percent of ShopJimmy’s revenue. “NLA parts are a big problem in our industry,” Vosika says. “The manufacturers are making just enough parts to build their products, so there aren’t enough for the supply chain for repairs.”
The remainder of the company’s revenue comes from selling more common parts at the lowest prices on line. “If a competitor’s part has the same 90-day warranty we offer on all our parts, we’ll beat it by 15 percent of the base price,” Vosika says.
Vosika also has created the ShopJimmy Stores program to help out repair shops and the industry as a whole—not just his own company—by connecting buyers and sellers. “There was no good way in the industry for people to sell parts to each other,” he says. “We built a platform where they can list the part for sale on our Web site. We take a small cut, but we handle everything, including credit card processing and sending them a UPS label.”
ShopJimmy’s site also lists the inventory and prices of every store in the country that’s enrolled in the ShopJimmy Stores program. “We’ve done integrations with some of the larger parts distributors out there, so it’s almost like a Google search of certified sellers to see what everyone has in one swoop,” Vosika says. “Our customers and our competitors are all very good friends of ours. In fact, our competitors are some of our best customers, too.”
ShopJimmy went global in July by opening a location in the United Kingdom. “We already have our suppliers and customers in place, and it could potentially grow larger than our U.S. operation because it opens us up to all of Europe,” Vosika says. “Shipping is a lot less expensive from the U.K. to European countries than it is from here to the U.K. We have other future expansion plans as well, but one country at a time.”