When three local car enthusiasts decided to open a unique auto business three years ago, they knew they wanted it to be close to home.
Joe Frohlich, a Ramsey resident who owned Corinthian Motors on Spring Street for over 20 years, said opening Radical Motorsports on Route 17 South in the borough in the spring of 2010 was an easy decision.
“This location had been an old Saturn dealership,” he explained. “So, when they went out of business, the opportunity just sort of presented itself.”
Frohlich partnered with two longtime friends who were involved in other ends of the automotive industry – Dave Butler of Mahwah, who had been in sales, and Bruce Ianelli of Ho-Ho-Kus, who worked in wholesale.
The Trio purchased a Radical Sportscars franchise, an English company that sells high performance sportscars. The three decided to add their passions to the business.
Butler heads up the sales floor, which is filled with unique pre-owned vehicles. And Frohlich heads the service department, which offers automotive and body work repairs on everyday and specialty cars.
“We really just put all of our experiences together,” Frohlich said of the business design.
But, the owners say the unique aspects of their business have made integrating themselves into the community somewhat challenging.
“I think people saw the line-up of exotic cars we had when we first opened, and thought that we were high-end only,” Butler said. “But that's not reall who we are."
On the service side of the business, the owners say they are certified to work on all types of cars, and often have a mix of different types of vehicles in the workroom. “We can service a Toyota and we can service a Ferrari,” Butler said.
On the sales side, the owners say they send out buyers to individually purchase every car. So, they carry a wide range – from unique models to classics to everyday vehicles. “A lot of times, people come in just to get a good deal on everyday-use pre-owned cars. But, we do have the eye candy as well.”
The unique inventory in the store makes it a destination spot.
“In one month, we sold 40 cars, and only six were to New Jersey residents,” Frohlich said. “It’s great that we’ve got car enthusiasts looking online and ordering their unique pieces from our shop, but we are local guys. We want to connect more with the towns we live in.”
The location on Route 17 has also made integrating into the community tough, the owners said.
“Being here make us accessible, which is great from customers coming from other states. But, a little harder to connect with the town,” Frohlich said.
On both sides of the business, the owners say accessibility and a small-business atmosphere are what really set them apart.
“People will come in not knowing what to do after an accident,” Frohlich said. “So, we’ll help walk them through the insurance process. People know that Dave and I aren’t going anywhere. We live here and work here, and operate more like a small family business than a big scary corporate one.”
The owners say locals can expect to see more community outreach from them in the coming months, possibly in the forms of involvement with youth sports teams, the schools, and the new Ramsey Chamber of Commerce. And, look for events like a classic car show this spring.