It is a difficult thing to admit that you can longer keep up – in sports lingo, that “the game has passed you by.” As hard as it may be to utter those words, Tracy Waters issued them without apparent regret.
Waters is the former owner and founder of Southern Sound on Brannen Street, across from the “old” Winn Dixie. Waters said he knew it was time to hang up the cleats in the car stereo and technology business.
“There aren’t a lot of 44 year old men in the car stereo business,” Waters said. “The technology is changing so quickly that I couldn’t, or maybe I just didn’t want to keep up with it anymore.”
Waters said when he opened his business two decades ago, things were pretty simple.
“Basically, people wanted a pair of speakers and a cassette deck,” he said. “Our customers were generally 16 to 23 year old males. It has become more and more complicated as technology has changed and the way that audio systems are being built into the automobile. The opportunity came up, and I knew it was time to sell.”
Waters has sold Southern Sound to Tim Phillips, a young entrepreneur who has been in the car audio business for the last several years.
“I have been working in this for a long time,” Phillips said. “I worked for Tracy from 1999 to 2002. I was ready to do this on my own, and Tracy was willing to sell his business to me.”
Phillips said he is very interested in the new products that are coming on the market, finding it all very exciting.
“When Tracy opened up Southern Sound, it was all about the audio,” he said. “Now it is about the video. Everybody that comes in wants some type of television and video in their car. We get a lot of business from car dealers as well. Who is to say where this business is going to go.”
Don’t think that Waters is going to sit home twiddling his thumbs. He has other business interests. He owns the shopping center development that houses Southern Sound and neighboring Pets and People. He is also a photographer of note in the sports of drag racing, stock car racing, and tractor pulling.
Waters goes all over the country “shooting” these events and selling pictures to the participants and sports magazines such as Drag Racer. He has also developed a “gear” bag with a partner, and is getting ready to produce and sell it.
“From managing the shopping center to taking pictures, I have plenty to keep me busy,” he said. “It was time for me to move on.”