Local business owner credits his work ethic to parents’ examples
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Having a business with graffiti on the outside gets you noticed.But not in a, “Oh, we’d better call the cops!” kind of way.
Limitless Snow-Wake-Surf employs artist Bobby Johnson to create bold designs on the storefront. These change every six months or so. He uses Montana Gold paint, which is sold at the store.
“What I enjoy about his work is that he has great unique designs and pushes himself to get better each time he paints,” said Eric Hargrave, Limitless owner. “He loves painting and has a passion for making people smile and to give the local kids inspiration through his painting.”
Having graffiti on the outside of one’s business definitely makes you stand out in a town the size of Washougal. But Hargrave likes it that way. He said he is constantly changing and adapting his products to keep pace with the changing marketplace.
“What I enjoy most about being the owner is the freedom to make decisions,” he said. “If I have it my way I will never work for someone else again. I have the passion, drive and hard work ethic to never fail. You only live once and hard work is the only way to success.”
Hargrave is no stranger to hard work. His parents, Alan and Mary Hargrave, instilled it early on.
“When I was young I would do hours of yard work and would also help my parents with chores around the house,” he said. “My work ethic is because I am my father’s son. My father to this day at the age of 63 is still working very hard and is once again moving to the top of his field at the Port of Vancouver. In his off time he runs multiple businesses and also makes the yard at his home resemble that of a golf course.”
His mother juggles several commitments as well.
“She runs multiple property businesses and also has time to work a full time job,” Hargrave said. “This is why I am who I am. My parents have given me the tools.”
By the time he graduated from WHS in 2003, hard work was second nature. While participating in football and track for the Panthers, he also maintained a 3.98 GPA and finished seventh overall in a class of 220 students. At the same time, Hargrave served on several student-led committees and volunteered at church. The summer was spent working for George Schmid and Sons as a mechanic and eventually an operator. During his free time, Hargrave would wakeboard and snowboard.
While at Pacific Lutheran University, he played on the football team and continued to snowboard and wakeboard. During the spring and summers, he worked as a lumberjack and also interned for the then Seattle Supersonics his sophomore, junior and senior years. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2007, Hargrave went to work for Riverview Community Bank but dreamed of opening his own business.
Soon after, brother Brett, who had recently began working for Square One Distribution, producers of Ronix Wakeboards and Radar Water Skis based in Issaquah, Wash., challenged him to sell all of his demos. If he was successful, then they’d split the profits.
“I sold it all really quickly,” Hargrave said. “Eventually I had multiple online applications I was selling through, and needed more product.”
However, his Vancouver home was quickly becoming too small to handle the volume he needed for continued sales. At the same time, his parents needed a tenant at their building on 26th Street, which seemed to be a revolving door of businesses. They also had a rental house behind it that was in need of renovations.
“My parents told me if I got the house ready to go and rented, and I renovated this building, I could do what I wanted with it,” Hargrave said.
After four months of remodeling, he opened Limitless in June 2011. Two months later, he and wife Tina were married.
“Tina finished her four year degree online while working at AT&T full-time as a national retail account executive and planned a wedding,” he said. “This is why I married her. She is very driven and a hard worker.”
To this day, Hargrave still sells his brother’s demos and buys product from Square One, but emphasized that he does not receive any special discounts or treatments.
“I pay the same prices that other retailers pay for the merchandise,” he said.
Limitless started off selling waterski and wakeboard products and accessories. but branched out into snowboards, bindings, boots and apparel, as well as the aforementioned Montana Gold paints, GoPro cameras, mounts, and all accessories.
Hargrave first heard of GoPro, then a young company, in 2011 while vacationing in Hawaii. GoPro sells cameras that mount to helmets or other surfaces, and allow cyclists, snowboarders, surfers, kayakers and other adventure seekers to capture mishaps, milestones or other unforgettable shots and videos.
“At first, GoPro would only sell to surf and ski shops,” Hargrave said. “Now you can find it anywhere, but the difference is I carry all accessories. It may sit here for a little bit, but when someone wants it, they’ll be able to find it. The possibilities for it are never-ending. You can use it for nearly anything and everything.”
Hargrave said the key to being successful in business, especially during a recession, is being able to change and adapt products as needed.
“If you don’t keep pace with the market, you won’t sell anything,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes, but have always bounced back because I look for ways to be innovative.”
He added that the biggest challenge for him was staying informed.
‘There is only so much time in a day to do research about new products and to innovate the businesses to meet the demand of the ever-changing retail market.”