Home japan financial crisis Turbo Knights is part of the growing Memphis area

Turbo Knights is part of the growing Memphis area


Turbo Knights muscle car mechanic ramps up as part of Whitehaven business renaissance

Located on a side street just west of Memphis International Airport, the empty industrial building appears to be past its prime.

But this 43-year-old building in the Whitehaven area off East Raines Road will see new life, part of the dream of a Middle Eastern entrepreneur, an ambitious engineer fascinated by high-powered sports cars made in Detroit. before his birth.

Muhsen Najdawi, 41, an engineer and auto mechanic, purchased the 1 acre site at 3301 Winbrook Drive and began developing Turbo Knights LLC.

The repair shop will take care of minor tasks like oil changes while aiming to land on the cell phone contact list of Mid-South muscle car enthusiasts.

Need to have your 1969 Dodge Super Bee serviced? Want a modern engine for your 1968 Chevrolet Camaro? Is your 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake just not breathing well?

These are among the tasks of $ 5,000 and more that Najdawi undertakes for his store. Welding and rebuilding foreign luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz is also on the menu, he said, although “here they want more American muscle than anything else.”

Najdawi himself drives a 2006 Jeep, says he urges his four children not to buy new (overpriced) cars, refused cable TV charges at his house in the Germantown area, and appealed to the network of other Middle Eastern entrepreneurs to help start a business with small loans. It’s all about frugality now, savings, starting the store.

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Four decades ago he grew up in Jordan, then worked in Dubai and Germany, got an engineering degree, found his way to Memphis in 2011. Now he has linked his dream to this building in Whitehaven . The City-County EDGE Board, an economic development agency, agreed to provide a loan of $ 12,000 as part of its Downtown Economic Development Loan Program.

“Germany is a beautiful country where you can live comfortably, but if you have a long-term vision and want to be big at something, I think in our great country here we can do more,” said Najdawi.

Development in Whitehaven

Mike Harris, Interim Executive Director of the Three-Year-Old Greater Whitehaven Economic Redevelopment Commission, said Turbo Knights reflects a larger business increase underway in Whitehaven.

“It’s our location in the city and how easy it is to get to where we are, here in the back yard of the airport,” said Harris.

The district of 80,000 people, located along Interstate 240 south of downtown, takes its name from a 19th-century farming family. For decades, it has housed much of the city’s black, middle-class and working-class families as well as Graceland International Tourist Attraction and Whitehaven High School and its Nurturing Schools, which Harris cites as forces for neighborhood stability.

Despite the stability, Whitehaven Southland Shopping Center emptied, part of the nationwide demise of malls, and most retail chains were more drawn to the booming malls just over the state border in Southaven . Lately, however, he has seen a change.

Houston investors bought old Medtronic office buildings on Interstate 240 and are renovating the property, intending to lease space for general offices, which promises an influx of new workers. And entrepreneurs such as hair salon Nubian Design Studios, Suga Mama SnoBalls, restaurant Trap Fusion and BeLeaf, a cigar maker, have opened or are about to open, part of the new influx of black entrepreneurs to Whitehaven, said Harris.

“This is the new trend that I can see,” said Harris. “It’s happening now because entrepreneurship is something that gets celebrated. “

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After the 2008 credit crunch and the ensuing small business recession, Memphis and America saw businesses implode. Six percent fewer black-owned businesses were operating in Metropolitan Memphis in 2012 than ten years ago. The decline among white-owned businesses was 9%.

The US Census of Small Businesses survey found that growth was in just one demographic: Asians, a term that for census purposes covers the map from China to India and the Middle East. By 2012, the number of Asian and Hispanic-owned businesses in Greater Memphis had grown 65% in a decade. White-owned businesses in the Memphis metropolitan area totaled 12,792 businesses, compared with 993 black, 253 Hispanic and 1,295 Asian businesses employing one or more workers, the census reported.

“The key is to work hard”

Najdawi was one of these new entrepreneurs. He had followed his mother Rida and other members of his family to Memphis. Although put off by crime and violence, he decided not to return to Munich, Germany.

He decided to press here, relied on his electronics skills and in 2012 opened ER Wireless, he said, working six days a week for long hours every day to grow into a chain of 10 stores selling cell phones and repairing electronic devices (ER is short for emergencies).

Rather than spending on groceries, the money went to stores, which resulted in small meals a few times. “Some days we didn’t have enough food to eat,” he said.

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When thieves one night emptied cases of cellphones in Getwell’s emergency department store, he feared insurance was taking too long to reimburse and provide money for restocking. He saw the network of Muslims and fellow entrepreneurs in Memphis supporting him. They handed him some of their own unsold cell phones to restock his shelves.

“They broke in. They destroyed me. I didn’t make a call. Friends heard and brought me phones, ”Najdawi said. “There are some good people around here. It’s the same with me. I will help them when they need help. I think we care more about humanity than about money.

With low real estate costs in Whitehaven and convenient access to the interstate highway, he tapped into the network to help start Turbo Knights. It opened in a smaller location in Whitehaven a few years ago. Now he expects two or three mechanics to be employed at the biggest store he bought in Winbrook.

“We know for a fact that if you work hard you can be successful in America,” he said. “The key is to work hard.”

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