Having two cars while in high school put Kevin S. Garn in an enviable position. His rather large bank account solidified it.
Garn, 36, used a station wagon he had while attending Layton High School as part of a cassette distribution business and now runs KSG Distributing and the Pegasus Music and Videos stores, a successful audio cassette and video business that had $20 million in sales in 1990 and is projecting $25 million for this year.While many of his friends were enjoying their weekends, Garn loaded the station wagon with eight-track tapes and headed for St. George and Las Vegas, dropping off the products as he went, keeping the top 100 titles in the racks at various outlets.
The budding business executive had to miss many high school activities in his junior and senior years, but managed to attend the most important ones.
He saved enough money to pay for a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and enough to restart his business again in 1976 at age 21. He already was a veteran businessman, but had to re-established his route by working the road for two years. He then purchased an 1,800-square-foot building in downtown Layton.
Garn hired a salesman, Greg Sanders (who eventually became KSG's sales manager), and both spent most of their time on the road, providing clients with audio and video cassettes. The company started to grow so he hired a secretary, and eventually more salesmen and a controller were added.
He sold his old building and moved into a 5,000-square-foot building in 1984. Each year he has added on, and the building now has 15,000 square feet of video tape storage area. In 1989 he built an adjacent 18,000-square-foot building for offices and audio cassette and compact disk storage, and he now has 30,000 separate titles in the two buildings.
His inventory is large because he doesn't want to rely solely on keeping the hottest sellers on hand. So when people walk into a Pegasus store they can find the first Three Dog Night tape or a classic Frank Sinatra compact disc.
After being a distributor for several years, Garn wanted to get into the retail end of the audio and video business so six years ago he noticed that a store in Bountiful he had been supplying came up for sale. He purchased it and opened the first Pegasus Music and Video store.
From that beginning, his chain has grown to 13 similar stores in Utah from Ogden to St. George and three franchise stores in Evanston, Wyo., Helena, Mont., and Cedar City.
Getting people what they want in audio and video cassettes has always been a Garn trademark. For example, when he was traveling to southern Utah a customer requested a certain tape and Garn supplied it on his next run.
The same policy holds true for Garn today because he realizes people have different tastes. "About 25 percent of our sales are from non-current titles," said Garn, "so the store owners and managers are responsible for their own inventory."
He said the St. George store stocks a large supply of country-Western cassettes since the area is heavily visited by Asian tourists and they like that type of music. The Bountiful store is big in jazz fusion and the Montana store sells mostly rock and roll.
His audio cassettes and compact discs come from CBS, RCA, MCA, Polygram, Capitol and Warner Brothers, while the video tapes are from Paramount, Disney, Warner Brothers and several little studios.
Garn is amazed at the large number of people collecting tapes these days and points to the release of Walt Disney's Jungle Book movie, originally seen in theaters in 1967, as an example. When Jungle Book was first released on video, KSG ordered and sold 90,000 tapes and reordered 40,000 more, but still can't keep up with the demand.
The Little Mermaid is another success story for Garn, because in the year since it was released KSG has distributed 100,000 copies.
The walls at KSG are covered with 15 platinum and gold records in recognition of the company's outstanding sales records.
KSG's growth pattern in the last few years "reflects the love people have for entertainment," Garn said, evidenced by a 25 percent annual growth in his business. He said his business has been almost untouched by recessions because "no matter how bad things get for people they still like to be entertained."
Since Garn started his business in high school, he has noticed how music has changed. Some of the lyrics have become offensive, he said, but they are a minority and KSG won't distribute that type of product.
The same thing is true for videos. Garn said changing X-rated movies to NC-17 legitimizes X-rated shows and he won't handle them. "Our biggest emphasis is on Disney movies," he said.
Last year, his Pegasus operation began selling more videos than doing rentals. The biggest sellers are children's videos, followed by instructional videos, aerobics and sports shows.
Because he spent five years on the road getting his business going, Garn now leaves the traveling to others, spending time with his wife and six children. Occasionally when artists come to town, they visit Garn's operation because it is an integral part of their popularity and he shows them around.
And even though he has plenty to do in nourishing his business, Garn was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1990, claiming he was drafted since he "never had an ambition to get into politics."