I was introduced to hobby-grade RC cars and trucks at around six years old by my cousin via RC Car Action magazine. We would read it from cover to cover hundreds of times every month. To us as kids, RCs were the ultimate toy, and it would be amazing if we could have any that we saw in RCCA. After a year or so of drooling over the cars and trucks in RCCA, my parents got me a Tamiya Lunchbox. They took me to the LHS (Local Hobby Shop) about a half an hour away and I got to pick the truck, radio, charger and batteries. My dad and I spent an hour or two a night building it for a week after he’d get home from work. What a long week that was for me… but when it was completed, I couldn’t stop running it!
My buddy had a Grasshopper and we ran them until the wheels fell off, literally. This is how I learned how to work on and modify RC cars. Back in those days, no hobby shops did repairs or any work of that sort. As time passed I was lucky enough to get an RC10T when they came out and built that, and then a few years later I got the RC10GT when those were released. I saved up for the RC10GT with money from working on my grandparents’ farm, and went all-out with a Futaba Magnum FM and all the best electronics, an OS engine and even the MIP Stinger pipe kit. I still own all of these RC vehicles to this day and the RC10GT is still one of my favorite trucks to run on a track. So, as you can tell, I’ve been into the RC world for a long time at this point.
As a kid, I’d dreamed of how cool it would be to own a hobby shop but never thought it could ever really happen. In my later teens, I moved on to full-size cars and trucks, packing the RCs away into a box. After I graduated high school, I spent many years as a mechanic and built custom rides for my friends and myself, eventually going to college majoring in business. My plans for a career at this point were to open a custom full-size auto shop. However, when I graduated, the economy had collapsed and the great recession was upon us. With little hope of being able to start a new custom shop successfully in the economic climate of the time, I decided to move from Michigan to Florida and see where the universe took me. After working whatever jobs I could find for a couple of years, I fell into a one at a hobby shop. I spent several years working there and realized I could translate all of my business and automotive aftermarket schooling and experience into successfully running my own hobby shop. This hadn’t been my plan by any means, but life has a funny way of working things out if you let it.
So, after four years of working at that shop, I left to start my own. This was back in 2015. I’d been back into RC stuff for about 10 years again at this point, so I was well versed in everything current and also had the knowledge of all the vintage stuff from the ’80s and ’90s, and now I had lots of experience of actually working in a hobby shop. I also knew of things as a customer I’d always wanted to see in any hobby shop but never did, and we would provide those things to my customers.
In November of 2015, I opened Remote Control Hobbies – Orlando. We started out with more inventory than most start-up shops because we had lots of competition locally and wanted to go all-in right away. If you don’t have a large selection of products and brands, people may not come back after checking the store out for the first time, and I wasn’t about to let that happen. I worked very hard and an insane amount of hours for the first couple of years to make sure the shop was a success, to cultivate positive relationships with distributors and manufacturers, and to continuously grow our customer base.
I took risks by carrying smaller brands you generally don’t find in hobby shops, and even things like 1/14-scale RC heavy equipment and 1/5-scale racers and bashers. We will repair, modify or customize any hobby-grade RC as well. I displayed my collection of every Team Associated vehicle ever made so we old timers in the hobby can reminisce and those new to the hobby can see how far it has come.
As time passed I was able to spend less time in the shop and started going to events, first locally and then nationally. Once we started sponsoring and attending events around the country, I continued to network everywhere I went and have made many great friends who became business associates. I think going to events, sponsoring events, supporting races, supporting locals who are out at events and being a good ambassador for the hobby are all very important things that many shops don’t do. Since those early days back in 2015, our shop’s inventory and customer base has only continued to grow.
We’re an oddball in today’s world, because we’re strictly a brick-and-mortar location; we don’t do any web sales. I dabbled with an eBay store, but it ended up being more of a headache than it was worth for me, so I quickly abandoned it. If we had more square footage to stock product a lot deeper I might consider doing web sales, but we’re still very successful at this point and we’d have to change our business plan up quite a bit and spend a lot more in overhead to do online sales. However, we do happily ship to our customers from all over the world whenever they email us.
Since we’re in Orlando, we get lots of customers from all over the country and the world who come for vacation, and these customers know that we may have items other shops don’t have in stock. It’s always a pleasure to get an email from one of our customers somewhere in the U.S., Europe, South America or Asia and be able to help them out. We absolutely love giving people a great experience in the RC world. If you’ve ever worked retail, you know not everyone is a ray of sunshine or easy to deal with, but the customers who appreciate all we do for them and are fun to deal with negate the headaches from the small minority of those who aren’t, well, fun to deal with. We also provide products to several major YouTubers and it’s great to help others by doing so.
Currently, I’m further expanding my horizons on what I do in the RC industry. I do consulting work for a few major companies, just bought a 1/14 parts manufacturing company (Gear Jammer RC) and have started a Facebook page and YouTube channel, which is called RCJesus. I was given the nickname “RCJesus” several years ago because I have a beard and long hair and kind of resemble Renaissance paintings of Jesus, and I have a vast experience and knowledge with all things RC. It stuck, so I accepted it and rolled with it.
I love working in this industry, the people who I work with in it, and all of the different and fun adventures it has allowed my daughter and me to have. If you’re ever in Orlando, make sure to look us up! We’re open seven days a week, so you can stop in any day and we’ll be there. If you can’t make it to Orlando but need some help or parts, feel free to email us. If you work hard and think positive, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Always remember that.
Remote Control Hobbies – Orlando, LLC
5024 E. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32803
FB (Gear Jammer RC): facebook.com/gearjammerrc
FB (RCJesus): facebook.com/therealRCJesus
YT (RCJesus): youtube.com/channel/UCPtfzrshPGJSGqjb0wjDHqQ
Text and Image by Nick Barber