Williams Lake model airplane engine retailer Bernd Eisele is the recipient of EBay’s first International-preneur award.
He was among 200 EBay sellers who entered this year’s competition — EBay also presents awards to an Entrepreneur of the Year and a Fashion-preneur of the Year. Eisele will receive $2,000.
“They’ve always had the Entrepreneur of the Year award, but I’ve never entered to win. Because EBay is growing so quickly, they created some other awards, so I entered without too high of hopes, but we felt we’d done a good job, and had almost impeccable ratings on EBay. We have 60 to 70 per cent repeat business on EBay.”
He wrote out their story and submitted it and admits it was a bit of a shock to learn he had won.
“It was worth a try,” he says, adding he’s been self-employed since he was 19 years old.
Since mid-2007, he has been selling model airplane engines to customers all over the world, through his company Cox International.
“I’ve been building and flying model airplanes since I was a kid. The brand that we are selling today is the brand I grew up with and the one most kids grew up with,” he says. “Cox is a lot like Volkswagen cars — everyone either had one or drove one at some point.”
When Cox more or less went out of business in the U.S., Eisele decided to buy them out and have some fun, he recalls.
Only four per cent of his sales are in Canada. The rest are outside the country, and over half of those are outside of North America to countries such as Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia and United Kingdom.
Today he sells more than $200,000 a year in Cox engines and parts.
“Many sellers on EBay don’t sell outside of their own country, especially Americans, but the money isn’t sitting in North America, it’s sitting outside of there. People are afraid of shipping, of language barriers, and other things,” he explains. “We approach it as a business. If you approach it as a past-time or a hobby then that’s what you attract. Every buyer is a customer whether they spend $2 or $200.”
EBay is one of Cox International’s selling venues. It also has its own Internet business as well.
Eisele moved Williams Lake from West Vancouver in 1995. He had an export car selling business initially, and then switched to the model airplane venture.
Today Cox International has three full-time employees, housed on the top floor of the Bank of Montreal building on Second Avenue South.
Eisele says he’s having nothing but fun.
“I always have. I’m one of these people that gets up in the morning ready to do something I like. I would never choose a business that wasn’t enjoyable. Money comes by itself. If you do things well, money falls into place. If you do it solely for the purpose of earning money, it can be pretty miserable for some people.”
“Entrepreneurs are the engines of Canada’s economy,” said Andrea Stairs, country manager of EBay Canada. “Each year, the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards uncover stories of Canadian sellers who have harnessed the power of the Internet to capitalize on business opportunities, both in Canada and around the world. This year’s winners have built successful online businesses by understanding their market and satisfying their customers’ needs time and again.”
Eisele also teaches courses on how to be successful on EBay at Thompson Rivers University’s Williams Lake campus. He guides participants over a two-day workshop to learn how to set up and manage an EBay account.
His next workshop takes place Oct. 20 and 21.