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HomeUncategorizedHernando family business: from small start-up to monster success

Hernando family business: from small start-up to monster success

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Monster Transmission is a Hernando County business that currently employs 85 people. They are active in the local community and have put on many events to raise money for charity.  The formation of the business was a large family effort which combined the abilities of multiple generations.
Monster Transmission was created by a close knit family of faith. President/CEO Achilles Thomas had just graduated from college with a multimedia degree and was looking to start his career. His grandparents had moved to Spring Hill from South Florida. Achilles decided to move to Spring Hill and he lived with his grandparents for a year while he figured out what he wanted to do. It was a special time for him.

Achilles’ grandfather, also named Achilles, was a retired entrepreneur who wanted to impart his experience and knowledge onto his grandson. Achilles decided to start a business and sell websites to local businesses in the area. He went door to door trying to drum up sales. After two months he had not sold a single website. He was told over and over again, “What’s a website and what do I need that for?.” This was very discouraging as he felt the need to support himself and generate some income.

He decided to apply at Office Depot. They had just finished the Coastal Way shopping plaza and Office Depot was hiring. He applied for a job there in the print center. His grandfather insisted on accompanying him to the interview. During their visit, his grandfather did all the talking with the manager. He kept saying that Achilles is a ‘good boy, and will do great things for you.’ A few days later the manager called and offered Achilles the job. He was thrilled and shared the news with his grandfather, but to his amazement, his grandfather told him to not accept the job. Grandpa Achilles told his namesake that he could do better things with his time and to try another business.

During this time his parents and siblings had also moved up from South Florida to Spring Hill. His father’s side of the family had always been involved in technology, with several members working at IBM. His mother’s side has been in the automotive field for many generations.

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The family decided to have a meeting to figure out what they would do going forward. Achilles decided to combine the experience from both sides of the family to sell automobile transmissions on the Internet. This was a bold and new concept at the time, but Achilles was determined to show the world what a website could do. The company was started with very little capital, using his personal credit card with a $5,000 limit. This was a true “start-up.”

They looked around and found a 1,000 square foot space in a little plaza off Spring Hill Drive. At first just the family was involved. Uncle Chris drove up from South Florida and donated a trailer full of transmission cores. They worked together at the shop: Achilles, his brother Bobby, parents Curt and Emily, and the support of his grandparents Achilles & Filio. They officially opened in January 2003.

The family hoped and prayed to sell a transmission to pay the bills in the first month. They wound up selling eight transmissions. Business steadily grew and at the end of the year they had sold over 200 transmissions. The company’s sales increased three to four fold a year thereafter.
To accommodate their growth, they moved the business to a 3,000 square foot building in late 2004. This was a big gamble as they had to continue to grow in order to support the additional overhead. They remained in that location for about six years and the growth continued at an exponential rate. 

In 2010 Monster was ready to expand yet again, moving to their Brooksville location which is around 22,000 square feet. During that time frame they began receiving national coverage on multiple television shows and magazine publications. With Achilles’ knack for marketing, he established relationships with producers, TV hosts, and publishers from all over the auto industry.

After settling into their facility with roughly a dozen employees, Achilles wanted to celebrate with a grand opening. Initially, it was going to be something small like a ribbon cutting and a car show in the parking lot. However Achilles doesn’t like to do anything small, so it turned into a massive community event that had to be held at the fairgrounds next door. There were fireworks, monster trucks, a huge car, truck and bike show, a circus with elephants, live entertainment and all proceeds donated to charity. At Monster Transmission they enjoy going all out and giving back to the community. They put the event together in less than three months and had thousands of people in attendance.

Their continued growth has lead to international exposure with sales in over 50 countries, including transmissions for the President of Indonesia. They’ve also had famous customer celebrities like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. As well as their fair share of custom projects like building transmissions for Batmobile replicas, the U.S. Military, and Feature Films! 

They have appeared on over 25 different television shows and their name is now well known throughout the auto industry. Their work is highly trusted and sought after. Recently a customer shipped them his truck from Pennsylvania to have the transmission installed. The work could have been done locally, but he believes so strongly in the Monster Transmission brand that he decided to send his truck to Florida for the installation.

In addition to Monster Transmission, Achilles’ entrepreneurial spirit has led to the creation of many other local businesses. Thor Converters, which remanufactures torque converters, Burn Rubber Brewing Co., which offers transmission fluids and oils, and Nature Coast TV which is a full service video production and marketing agency that helps promote local positive news,  events, and businesses.

Today the story continues, the company was listed last year for the 4th time on INC Magazine’s list of the fastest growing privately held companies in America. Achilles and his team of MonSTARS (what he calls the employees) are preparing for yet another move. This time, a property with over 50 acres of land and nearly 100,000 square feet of warehouse space, yes.. it’s monstrous! The move is scheduled to take place later this year. 

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