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Last Update: Tuesday June 15, 2021

Key Idea: Test the Waters

Somehow David fell in love with watches.   Lucky for him that he found the right product from a vendor that was looking for the right American distribution system.   More...

Key Question:


Test your idea while you still have a paycheck.  David Arnold did this.  He had happy customers before he quit his job as a teacher and coach so he didn't worry or wonder if he could take care of his family.

Search more on the topic of startup and start a business.

Think about it

Do you dream about having your own business?  What could you do at night or on the weekends to test some ideas?

Clip from: The King Company with David Arnold

Austin, Texas:  He was a high school coach that loved watches.  It all began with a stop watch and became a love for any kind of watch.  The trunk of the family car was always filled with samples. And, he and his wife would go just about anywhere in Texas to find a new drugstore to carry his brand of time. When this story was taped, David had 65 employees and $50 million in annual sales. To create this American dream story, David did a lot of things right.

Look at ways he applied the most sophisticated technologies to the business of ordering, warehousing, selling, shipping and financial transaction processing (collecting on accounts receivable within minutes not 30-60 days).

The watch industry is one of the oldest, but here we learn about some of the newest business practices to create profits and a foundation for the future.

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The King Company, now SMI Direct

David Arnold, founder

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Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Test the Waters

HATTIE: Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant. Every week, right here, you meet generous people who honestly tell about their experience as small-business owners. These people are the job generators, the wealth creators, and we call them the new American heroes.

When you take time to study people like David Arnold, you learn how to start, run and grow a business. Like me, David is the child of a Baptist minister. He learned from his parents that hard work is good. He's a hero to us because he employs 65 people in this company he started from the trunk of his car.

Here's David Arnold, new American hero.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) David Arnold started his business in Austin, Texas, and when we interviewed him, that business employed 65 people, and did over $50 million in sales that year. This story is about how he became the sole importer of Seiko's Lorus watches and then how Seiko bought the business!

David tells how family members introduced him to the watch business.

DAVID ARNOLD: My dear grandmother stopped one day -- there was a sailor on the side of the road, and he had a Bible under his arm, and she stopped and picked this man up and said, `I'll give him a lift to church,' and so this man became a family friend over the years.

His name was Dean Wilson. In the '70s he became a Timex regional sales rep.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) So his grandmother started selling watches, and then his mother did.

David sold watches part-time while in college, then took a job as a high school football coach, but eventually he came back to watches.
DAVID: My wife and I, prior to us having kids, we decided we'd just literally sell watches on the weekends and the evenings and whatnot, and so we started around Victoria, Texas, selling watches to local drugstores.

On October 1st, 1981, I loaded watches in my car and was full time in the watch business. And literally at this time it was all Timex watches. I drove down to the border of Texas, which was a hotbed for watches. You could sell them quite easily down there. And I really did this for the next two or three years, had watches in my car; my excess inventory was in my closet at home.


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