MIDDLEBURG – Charles Knight of Elevate Graphics has been around the auto industry for most of his life.
His father opened a car dealership (All-Star Motors) in 1999. Knight and his siblings were home-schooled, so they spent a bulk of their time around the dealership.
“We were there pretty much every day, and grew up around that,” said Knight. “We grew up around the business and that kind of culture, so from a young age, I think I knew that I wanted to be in business for myself. I just wasn’t quite sure what that was going to be at that time.”
Knight said that the time spent around adults and in that atmosphere molded him. Around the age of 21, he began to sell cars with his father.
“I did that for a couple years, and I realized that that wasn’t really for me,” he said. “I was pretty good at that, but I wasn’t big on selling.” Growing up, Knight’s thought process had been that he would eventually take over the dealership from his father. However, on getting more involved in the day-to-day operation, he felt as if that was not the right path for him. He still, however, had the desire to be an entrepreneur.
Part of working with his father on the car lot was installing graphics on some of the vehicles.
“That was something I had done from a young age,” said Knight. “After I kind of sat back and did some research into different things, I thought it would be a fun venture to purchase a plotter and look into doing that, not really knowing what it could turn into and what it would become.”
Knight purchased a plotter for $3,500 (vinyl cutting machine connected to a computer with the software program on it).
He spent the first four months of his business making no money while he designed the graphics for about 12-14 different makes and models of vehicles. He didn’t know if this would be a successful venture, but he took the leap of faith.
Knight was also lucky that his father had the car lot, where he was able to test his designs on vehicles.
The business – Elevate Graphics – has been open for about two years now, but he has been selling online for about 16 months total. His business is currently sold through eBay and Etsy, and the sales are consistently increasing. He also expects to launch on Amazon in the next six months.
“We’re expecting a big boom once that goes live,” Knight said.
“I’m very thankful for the growth that we’ve seen,” he said. Knight and his wife want to begin a family in the next couple of years and want to home-school their children. He wants to make a successful enough living to facilitate that kind of lifestyle. “I’m not trying to get rich, just to provide for my family and
provide a good product for the community and just do the best that we can and control our future. Whatever God has for our business is what He has, and we are happy with that.”