N.C. auto shop for enthusiasts zeroes in on Richmond

national speed wilmington

The National Speed auto shop in Wilmington, North Carolina. (National Speed)

A North Carolina-based car shop is shifting into second gear as it heads to Richmond en route to a larger expansion.

National Speed, a so-called “speed shop” that works on cars for car enthusiasts, is preparing to open in the Staples Mill Shopping Center in Henrico.

Richmond will be National Speed’s second location, joining its home base in Wilmington. It’s a part of a bigger expansion planned for the brand, which President and CEO Ryal Tayloe said will include opening 25 to 30 shops nationwide over the next five years or so.

“The typical speed shop is a one- or two-person operation, usually a mom-and-pop shop,” Tayloe said. “The problem is it’s hard to serve an enthusiast customer well when you don’t have the capital, technology or mindset of running it like a business.”

The company, founded in 2012, works on both imported and domestic cars, modern and classic. Tayloe said its market is mostly people looking to upgrade their cars for better daily driving, as well as some racers.

“It’s a large niche within the automotive industry,” he said. “Often times people like to race, but most just like to personalize their cars, just modifying for better performance.”

Work is underway on the new Richmond location, which was formerly a Safeway grocery store and has sat vacant for decades. The 15,000-square-foot space will feature a retail area, showroom, eight repair bays and an all-wheel-drive dyno, a machine that measures the power of an engine.

“It’ll look more like a high-end Porsche dealership than what a typical auto shop does,” Tayloe said.

national speed richmond rendering

Rendering of the planned Richmond auto shop. (National Speed)

J.A. Heisler is the project’s contractor, with Wilmington-based Lisle Architecture & Design signed on as the architect.

Barry Hofheimer of CBRE | Richmond represented National Speed in lease negotiations. Alex Wotring and Jim Ashby of Cushman & Wakefield |Thalhimer represented the landlord.

In deciding on Richmond, Tayloe said National Speed put together an analytical model that included internet search terms, population size and types of cars registered in Virginia.

He said the Richmond market has plenty of the vehicles driven by its typical clientele – Chevy Camaros, Subaru WRXs, Mitsubishi Evolutions and Ford F-150s, to name a few.

“The primary question is how many car enthusiasts are there in the area,” he said. “There’s a vibrant race community in the greater Richmond area.”

The shop will open this spring with a staff of 15.

Tayloe said the crew at National Speed practices what it preaches. Founder Jordan Watson is currently working on converting a Subaru wagon into a mountain car, with a lifted suspension and mud tires.

“All of our team members have multiple cars they work on all the time,” he said.

Tayloe said he’s the outlier.

“I’m so practical and cheap, I just drive a Tahoe,” he said. “Our team thinks it’s funny.”

national speed wilmington

The National Speed auto shop in Wilmington, North Carolina. (National Speed)

A North Carolina-based car shop is shifting into second gear as it heads to Richmond en route to a larger expansion.

National Speed, a so-called “speed shop” that works on cars for car enthusiasts, is preparing to open in the Staples Mill Shopping Center in Henrico.

Richmond will be National Speed’s second location, joining its home base in Wilmington. It’s a part of a bigger expansion planned for the brand, which President and CEO Ryal Tayloe said will include opening 25 to 30 shops nationwide over the next five years or so.

“The typical speed shop is a one- or two-person operation, usually a mom-and-pop shop,” Tayloe said. “The problem is it’s hard to serve an enthusiast customer well when you don’t have the capital, technology or mindset of running it like a business.”

The company, founded in 2012, works on both imported and domestic cars, modern and classic. Tayloe said its market is mostly people looking to upgrade their cars for better daily driving, as well as some racers.

“It’s a large niche within the automotive industry,” he said. “Often times people like to race, but most just like to personalize their cars, just modifying for better performance.”

Work is underway on the new Richmond location, which was formerly a Safeway grocery store and has sat vacant for decades. The 15,000-square-foot space will feature a retail area, showroom, eight repair bays and an all-wheel-drive dyno, a machine that measures the power of an engine.

“It’ll look more like a high-end Porsche dealership than what a typical auto shop does,” Tayloe said.

national speed richmond rendering

Rendering of the planned Richmond auto shop. (National Speed)

J.A. Heisler is the project’s contractor, with Wilmington-based Lisle Architecture & Design signed on as the architect.

Barry Hofheimer of CBRE | Richmond represented National Speed in lease negotiations. Alex Wotring and Jim Ashby of Cushman & Wakefield |Thalhimer represented the landlord.

In deciding on Richmond, Tayloe said National Speed put together an analytical model that included internet search terms, population size and types of cars registered in Virginia.

He said the Richmond market has plenty of the vehicles driven by its typical clientele – Chevy Camaros, Subaru WRXs, Mitsubishi Evolutions and Ford F-150s, to name a few.

“The primary question is how many car enthusiasts are there in the area,” he said. “There’s a vibrant race community in the greater Richmond area.”

The shop will open this spring with a staff of 15.

Tayloe said the crew at National Speed practices what it preaches. Founder Jordan Watson is currently working on converting a Subaru wagon into a mountain car, with a lifted suspension and mud tires.

“All of our team members have multiple cars they work on all the time,” he said.

Tayloe said he’s the outlier.

“I’m so practical and cheap, I just drive a Tahoe,” he said. “Our team thinks it’s funny.”

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