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Wanting to start a 2 way shop

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Oct 17, 2014
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#1
Hello all, I am in he process of starting a WISP business. It is part time to my full time job as a sysadmin/techcoordinator.

I have been very interested in radio communications for many years and am a ham. I am wondering if anyone has any info about starting a 2 way shop and/or running a trunked system.

There is a kenwood shop 10 miles away and the motorola shops are 50+ miles.

There are a lot of farmers in my area as well as the normal public safety/business customers. Our local public safety is looking for a new system and the local radio shop (that they use exclusively) seems to be hesitant to deploy a modern digital system.

Anyway. Does it take a ton of money to become a reseller for one of the big radio manufacturers and can my business (LLC) apply for licenses for customers.


I am most interested in MOTOTRBO.


Thanks for any help.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
3,252
Location
Texas
#2
You have to almost be established to get on with Motorola as they generally have a minimum sales requirement for the application process. Secondly, Motorola takes over sales for public safety, the MSS just supports. The large P25 systems are generally sold direct by Motorola.

IMO, Motorola's newest trunking system is called Capacity Max. It is based off of the DMR Tier 3 protocol (though how much no one knows yet). It is the successor to Connect Plus and we will probably see Connect Plus EOL'd in the next 6 months forcing new sales over to Capacity Max. Let me warn you, just to get started with capacity max you need the server and a controller (Motorola recommends two) which will set you back around $28,000 for a controller and server, plus the repeaters and site equipment.

In contrast, Simoco has a Tier 3 solution (100% backwards compatible with Tait, Sepura, and in some cases Hytera on the subscriber side). Each repeater has its own controller integrated and the multi-site license is $800 extra for Tier 3. For all of that you'll likely spend about what you'd spend on a comparable Motorola system before unlocking it for trunking. Most importantly, it works.

Are you interested in TRBO or DMR?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
#3
I know a guy who started small with Relm bk products and icom and overtime now is a authorized dealer for many. Yeah it was work and blood sweat and tears but it paid off. He had help from a few people when needed but he succeeded. If your not afraid of losses and willing to go for gains you could over time build a successful company or business.
 
Joined
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Messages
2,797
Location
Cobb County, GA Stadium Crime Zone
#5
The MSS near me is struggling to survive. MSI is now further cutting them out of the service side with SFS (service from the start). On all our new subscribers, they go direct to the depot for the first 5 years. We do all our PMs in house.

The future of LMR IMO is you either diversify with other manufacturers (Hytera, Icom, Kenwood, Harris/Tait) or you starve. You will have to work to build contacts and you will spend alot of time away from your family on the road doing cold calls.

You will spend a ton of money on at least one if not more bench setups and test equipment, getting all the manufacturer recommended tools, and then you will either have to hire a tech or two or do it all yourself. Not easy to keep up with the workflow while you're out trying to grow your business.

This is of course, you want to do it right. There are plenty of shadetree radio "teknishuns" who cobble parts together and call themselves dealers. I spend quite a bit of time correcting their mistakes, blunders and incompetence.

Good luck to you.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Messages
2,994
#6
Hytera has a Tier 2 IP multisite network offering similar to the MotoTrbo IPSC. Might be something you can offer along with your WISP sites . Tier 3 trunking will require licensing exclusive channels. You should research frequency availability as well as potential customer base. Public safety is a bit more critical than serving commercial farmers and industrial.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Texas
#7
Hytera has a Tier 2 IP multisite network offering similar to the MotoTrbo IPSC. Might be something you can offer along with your WISP sites . Tier 3 trunking will require licensing exclusive channels. You should research frequency availability as well as potential customer base. Public safety is a bit more critical than serving commercial farmers and industrial.


Everyone has multi-site Tier 2 functionality. Tait, Simoco, Hytera, Sepura, etc. Hytera and Simoco offer pseudo trunking similar to a single channel Capacity Plus arrangement that can be linked like Linked Capacity Plus.

For the price of large scale Capacity Plus, one can get into some vendor's Tier 3 options which honestly would be the way to go IMO as there are SCADS radios available for Tier 3 (electric co-ops and small energy companies), and also you're not just locked into one vendor and not SOL if that vendor were to EOL the system on you (the whole industry would have to EOL it).


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Joined
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Messages
2,433
Location
Florida, where you wish you were!
#8
Take the pile of money you want to invest in this business and burn it. It will save you a lot of time to just go ahead and do that now, without having to go to all the trouble to actually set up the business.


End result: Same. Effort expended: Minimal.


It is a very, very, VERY tough business to survive in UNLESS you land a large contract good for hundreds of radios complete with a yearly maintenance and support agreement. Generally the larger companies with direct support from Motorola or Harris are going to get those. You'll fight for scraps like selling low cost portable radios to schools and hotels. And they'll nickel and dime you to death. You might end up agreeing to fix school radios for a flat rate of 5 dollars plus parts, hoping you'll make up for it in new radio sales. (You won't.) Your customers will violate your exclusive contract wih them, saying, "Oh, it's OK if we buy radios from somebody else who undercut you by a nickel a radio. We don't have to abide by the contract because it's such a small amount."

Yeah, this is real. I've seen it happen way too up close and personal.

Want to open a radio shop? Do yourself a favor. Sit down and wait for that urge to pass.

I've been involved in two way radios as a hobby and professionally for about 35 years now. While I would happily work as a senior technician
with a good radio shop again, there is absolutely no way I would want to own a radio shop.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
3,252
Location
Texas
#9
Take the pile of money you want to invest in this business and burn it. It will save you a lot of time to just go ahead and do that now, without having to go to all the trouble to actually set up the business.


End result: Same. Effort expended: Minimal.


It is a very, very, VERY tough business to survive in UNLESS you land a large contract good for hundreds of radios complete with a yearly maintenance and support agreement. Generally the larger companies with direct support from Motorola or Harris are going to get those. You'll fight for scraps like selling low cost portable radios to schools and hotels. And they'll nickel and dime you to death. You might end up agreeing to fix school radios for a flat rate of 5 dollars plus parts, hoping you'll make up for it in new radio sales. (You won't.) Your customers will violate your exclusive contract wih them, saying, "Oh, it's OK if we buy radios from somebody else who undercut you by a nickel a radio. We don't have to abide by the contract because it's such a small amount."

Yeah, this is real. I've seen it happen way too up close and personal.

Want to open a radio shop? Do yourself a favor. Sit down and wait for that urge to pass.

I've been involved in two way radios as a hobby and professionally for about 35 years now. While I would happily work as a senior technician
with a good radio shop again, there is absolutely no way I would want to own a radio shop.


I work for a MSS and though it's like playing around all day long for me and doesn't really seem like work, I wouldn't want to get into it that way.

The best way to get into from my observation is build a system and sell time on it. Sell radios, warranty them with the factory but when out don't bother fixing them and just treat it like a cell phone and tell the customer to buy a new one (easier when it's not a big name like Motorola and several hundred dollars cheaper). Engineering and selling time on systems is fun. Supporting them not so (remove and replace is a lot less stressful) and that's where my wife's company (whom I do work for when not working for a MSS) tends to focus its energy.

I also looked at a system I want to build…it's not worth building for portable coverage. Connect an ESChat gateway to it and focus on mobiles (as for farmers that's where the real usage would be anyway). Figuring out what to charge for time is another question, gotta at least break even no matter what.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
7
#10
You have to almost be established to get on with Motorola as they generally have a minimum sales requirement for the application process. Secondly, Motorola takes over sales for public safety, the MSS just supports. The large P25 systems are generally sold direct by Motorola.

IMO, Motorola's newest trunking system is called Capacity Max. It is based off of the DMR Tier 3 protocol (though how much no one knows yet). It is the successor to Connect Plus and we will probably see Connect Plus EOL'd in the next 6 months forcing new sales over to Capacity Max. Let me warn you, just to get started with capacity max you need the server and a controller (Motorola recommends two) which will set you back around $28,000 for a controller and server, plus the repeaters and site equipment.

In contrast, Simoco has a Tier 3 solution (100% backwards compatible with Tait, Sepura, and in some cases Hytera on the subscriber side). Each repeater has its own controller integrated and the multi-site license is $800 extra for Tier 3. For all of that you'll likely spend about what you'd spend on a comparable Motorola system before unlocking it for trunking. Most importantly, it works.

Are you interested in TRBO or DMR?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I the radios for TRBO. But honestly any full featured DMR interests me. I just don't like the cheesy non tough radios that some others offer. HYT is on the research list - the radios look decent.

The MSS near me is struggling to survive. MSI is now further cutting them out of the service side with SFS (service from the start). On all our new subscribers, they go direct to the depot for the first 5 years. We do all our PMs in house.

The future of LMR IMO is you either diversify with other manufacturers (Hytera, Icom, Kenwood, Harris/Tait) or you starve. You will have to work to build contacts and you will spend alot of time away from your family on the road doing cold calls.

You will spend a ton of money on at least one if not more bench setups and test equipment, getting all the manufacturer recommended tools, and then you will either have to hire a tech or two or do it all yourself. Not easy to keep up with the workflow while you're out trying to grow your business.

This is of course, you want to do it right. There are plenty of shadetree radio "teknishuns" who cobble parts together and call themselves dealers. I spend quite a bit of time correcting their mistakes, blunders and incompetence.

Good luck to you.

This seems reasonable to me. I will take Moto off of the list. I am not interested in cobbling crap together. I think that honest business practices are most important. The reason why I am doing the WISP is because I hear a lot of negative things about how they treat their customers, the pricing is outrageous, and they employ the lowest budget (ghetto )infrastructure practices. If I can't offer the best service possible, I am not interested in offering the service. They already have the "less-than" option.

Hytera has a Tier 2 IP multisite network offering similar to the MotoTrbo IPSC. Might be something you can offer along with your WISP sites . Tier 3 trunking will require licensing exclusive channels. You should research frequency availability as well as potential customer base. Public safety is a bit more critical than serving commercial farmers and industrial.
My plan was to let public safety purchase their own system (let me manage/support it) Tier II is what they have now and would be sufficient in the future. Four talk paths is more than sufficient - they also have a couple of remote repeaters to hit the entire area.

I would be personally interested in Tier III system for business/agriculture customers. 4 talk paths would be plenty to start.

Everyone has multi-site Tier 2 functionality. Tait, Simoco, Hytera, Sepura, etc. Hytera and Simoco offer pseudo trunking similar to a single channel Capacity Plus arrangement that can be linked like Linked Capacity Plus.

For the price of large scale Capacity Plus, one can get into some vendor's Tier 3 options which honestly would be the way to go IMO as there are SCADS radios available for Tier 3 (electric co-ops and small energy companies), and also you're not just locked into one vendor and not SOL if that vendor were to EOL the system on you (the whole industry would have to EOL it).


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Everyone is warning against the costs of the Moto equipment. I love the Motos, but I am now aware that they come with at a premium there are other systems that are fantastic quality with full feature sets. I am looking for a public safety quality tier II system and a more affordable tier III business quality system.


Take the pile of money you want to invest in this business and burn it. It will save you a lot of time to just go ahead and do that now, without having to go to all the trouble to actually set up the business.


End result: Same. Effort expended: Minimal.


It is a very, very, VERY tough business to survive in UNLESS you land a large contract good for hundreds of radios complete with a yearly maintenance and support agreement. Generally the larger companies with direct support from Motorola or Harris are going to get those. You'll fight for scraps like selling low cost portable radios to schools and hotels. And they'll nickel and dime you to death. You might end up agreeing to fix school radios for a flat rate of 5 dollars plus parts, hoping you'll make up for it in new radio sales. (You won't.) Your customers will violate your exclusive contract wih them, saying, "Oh, it's OK if we buy radios from somebody else who undercut you by a nickel a radio. We don't have to abide by the contract because it's such a small amount."

Yeah, this is real. I've seen it happen way too up close and personal.

Want to open a radio shop? Do yourself a favor. Sit down and wait for that urge to pass.

I've been involved in two way radios as a hobby and professionally for about 35 years now. While I would happily work as a senior technician
with a good radio shop again, there is absolutely no way I would want to own a radio shop.
I appreciate your honesty and I see that you have experience. After doing some research I realise that Moto probably would never allow a business such as mine with limited sales become a partner. I am now interested in smaller companies that offer a full DMR package...
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
10,274
Location
Point Nemo.
#11
I think if you did a historical search on the number of radio shops there were 10 years ago and compare that to the number of radio shops there are now, you'd get your answer.

I know several of the smaller local shops around me either closed in the last 10 years, or were bought up by larger shops.

And, I certainly wouldn't invest in Motorola.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2010
Messages
1,018
#12
There are a lot of small guys in my area that have branched off and started their own small 2 way shop, that once worked for large 2 way shops. They are doing well, and actually sub contract with the bigger guys on large projects because of the lack of real good radio guys out there.

Start small and see what happens. Be honest. A lot of customers can be had because of dishonest larger shops. Believe me, it happens.

Good luck.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2002
Messages
5,269
Location
Toronto, Ontario
#13
IMO, Motorola's newest trunking system is called Capacity Max. It is based off of the DMR Tier 3 protocol (though how much no one knows yet). It is the successor to Connect Plus and we will probably see Connect Plus EOL'd in the next 6 months forcing new sales over to Capacity Max.
So a product that is limited to 15 sites is the successor to Cap+ and its 250 site limit? So no more wide area DMR networks with 30, 50 or more sites sourced from Motorola? Ok...
 
Joined
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Messages
3,252
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#14
So a product that is limited to 15 sites is the successor to Cap+ and its 250 site limit? So no more wide area DMR networks with 30, 50 or more sites sourced from Motorola? Ok...


You misread. I stated Connect Plus not Capacity Plus. Capacity Plus is pseudo trunking and features no control channel (per say). Connect Plus is Motorola's first generation DMR trunking solution.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
3,252
Location
Texas
#15
I the radios for TRBO. But honestly any full featured DMR interests me. I just don't like the cheesy non tough radios that some others offer. HYT is on the research list - the radios look decent.









This seems reasonable to me. I will take Moto off of the list. I am not interested in cobbling crap together. I think that honest business practices are most important. The reason why I am doing the WISP is because I hear a lot of negative things about how they treat their customers, the pricing is outrageous, and they employ the lowest budget (ghetto )infrastructure practices. If I can't offer the best service possible, I am not interested in offering the service. They already have the "less-than" option.







My plan was to let public safety purchase their own system (let me manage/support it) Tier II is what they have now and would be sufficient in the future. Four talk paths is more than sufficient - they also have a couple of remote repeaters to hit the entire area.



I would be personally interested in Tier III system for business/agriculture customers. 4 talk paths would be plenty to start.









Everyone is warning against the costs of the Moto equipment. I love the Motos, but I am now aware that they come with at a premium there are other systems that are fantastic quality with full feature sets. I am looking for a public safety quality tier II system and a more affordable tier III business quality system.









I appreciate your honesty and I see that you have experience. After doing some research I realise that Moto probably would never allow a business such as mine with limited sales become a partner. I am now interested in smaller companies that offer a full DMR package...


I would actually avoid Hytera. They fired most of their US sales reps, any trunking support has to come out of China (so you automatically have a 48 hour support delay because you still have to go through the US office). And their Tier 3 doesn't actually play nicely with other manufacturers equipment.

Check out Simoco, they are looking dealers in the US. All of their trunking radios are IP67 rates and they have a new line in beta distribution that is not yet on the website. Tait also has a good subscriber line especially if you have a need for intrinsically safe portables. Another feature of Simoco, they offer full duplex calling with SIP integration on DMR which is not part of the standard (it is the TETRA standard though).

PM me if you'd like some more info.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
75
#16
I operate a shop that has been in business for over 35 years. Have a 12-site network and still have a few LTR & community repeaters in service with plenty of customers to up-grade. Own 3 towers, service trucks & shop equipment. Business is great. never better. future looks great. Anyone want to buy me out.......PLEASE....PLEASE.....PLEASE......Don't make me beg
 
Joined
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Messages
5,269
Location
Toronto, Ontario
#17
You misread. I stated Connect Plus not Capacity Plus. Capacity Plus is pseudo trunking and features no control channel (per say). Connect Plus is Motorola's first generation DMR trunking solution.
No, I miswrote. You're saying that Connect Plus, with its 250 site limit is being replaced by Capacity Max, which has a 15 site limit. So how does one build a large DMR network with Motorola sourced infrastructure? Or are they just slitting their own throats?
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
757
#18
What many have said on here is correct,it is probably not a good idea to break into this market unless you find a niche.

I used to work for one of the larger manufacturers, who is slowly dying a slow death now. They just laid off twenty more people last month. I left a while back to act as a consultant for local radio shops that have had problems in the area. Much of the problems are from stiff competition, radio manufaturers pulling in their dealers, poor product quality, poor product support, or sales personnel that just lie about the product.

Working for the oil and gas industry, before the price of oil dropped, radio support was very lucrative. They wanted all digital modes and features. Now they can't afford nearly as much as they used to. I consult for marine radio support now, many radio shops do not have the GROL or knowledgeable techs. Then they do not pay the good ones well. Everything going IP based, the Cisco certified technician is given more pay,better computers and benefits package.

If I were you, I would just get a foot in the door on consulting. Having your own shop, I agree with the previous poster who said to take the money and set it on fire.
 

wa1nic

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Westfield, Ma
#19
You might find that ICOM radios are a middle ground to sell.

If you want to become a "real radio shop", unless you never plan on going on vacation or taking a day off for the rest of your life you will be forced to hire one or more additional techs. That means insurance and benefits and such ... a real small business hassle that will suck all of your imagined profits away from you.
 
Joined
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Messages
2,433
Location
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#20
If you want to make money, buy a franchise in a big brand convenience store and run the place like you'd keep track of your teenage daughter. You'll work hard but you'll be driving a new Porsche 911 LONG before you would as the owner of a start-up radio shop.
 
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