Today we’d like to introduce you to David Kay.
David, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In 1989, I saved enough money to buy a used pool table from a church in Anaheim, California. The table had a non-slate particle wood playing field, and no matter what, the table would not play “true”. I even tried taking the table apart and replacing the half inch particle board with a one-inch thick one. I only found that it played worse! Frustrated, I sold my Meucci cue for a 4X8 slate pool table. The Delta one-piece slate table needed much repair. My friend Mark helped me get the materials to repair the table. I set it up in my backyard and played pool all the time, even joining tournaments at bars and pool halls to practice my game.
I was 20, unemployed and still living at home. My dad gave me an ultimatum – be gainfully employed by the following week or move out and end up with no pool table. I went to Mark’s dad, Dick Johnson, owner of Golden West Billiards in Orange, CA and talked him into letting me work at the shop. I kept my pool table and started with tasks like cleaning the shop, polishing balls and repairing cues. I soon started helping co-worker John Campbell on deliveries and repair jobs, soaking up his 25-year experience. I started to see a great opportunity for my own business.
In 1992, using the knowledge I gained from John Campbell and Mark Johnson, I started out on my own. I had a set of not yet paid for tools in the back of my Peugeot 504 and one roll of green billiard cloth. I solicited every bar and cocktail lounge in the area until they let me service their pool tables. After building up a small base of commercial clients, I decided to expand into the residential market by posting and handing out flyers in the neighborhood. I registered for a business license, placed a small in column ad in the yellow pages and officially became DK Billiard Service in 1993. Customers began inquiring about pool table moving and I began to realize the 504 would not lend itself to this task. I borrowed $1500 from my dad and purchased a 1978 Chevy Van for moving services. I was off and running.
After 10 years of only doing service jobs (moving, refelting, etc.), my wife and I opened a small used pool table showroom. We grew into a full-fledged new table showroom and billiard supply store. Our two children by my wife’s side, in the store from infancy to the 10 and 11-year old’s they are today.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest struggle by far has been balancing family and the business. Being family owned and operated, these two things are tightly intertwined. Not having much vacation time is tough, but it’s part of owning your own business. Luckily, we have great family and friends that we are able to call upon in times of need.
Also, last year, my wife Rory went through treatment for breast cancer. We called upon friends, family, and colleagues to help us get through. We are very fortunate to have made it through with good health, while keeping the business up and running like a well-oiled machine.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about DK Billiards – what should we know?
We are all about pool tables. We specialize in moving, repair, restoration of pool tables of all makes and models. We also have a storefront/showroom offering billiard supplies and custom order slate pool tables.
Being a family owned and operated means you get one-on-one personal service. The owner is the one servicing or delivering your pool table. You will see our kids helping in the store. We are a no-pressure sales environment. You can come in, chat, shoot some balls on the display table. It’s a low-key feel, yet packs decades of expertise in the field.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My family, especially my dad. He, too, started his own business and was able to guide me through the process of getting my business license in order and filing taxes as a DBA. My (late) mom, stepmom and sister have always been supportive and given sound advice.
I had great mentors in the billiard business. I learned from John Campbell and Mark Johnson from Goldenwest Billiards. Working for Rick Lansberg at Best Billiards also solidified my knowledge of the craft. The “Furniture Doctor” Rafael Diaz at Best was a wealth of information.
My biggest cheerleader and business partner, is my wife. I’m able to bounce ideas off of her and count on her help with our website and store. My kids also deserve a shoutout. They have grown up in the business, spending countless days in the showroom and even some in the field. These two inspire me everyday, and I hope their understanding of our business model will foster success in their future.
- Website: www.dkbilliards.com
- Phone: 714.620.4001
- Email: email@example.com