MARIO RADOSAVLJEVIC IS THE LORD OF THE RIMS.
HOW DID LOMA WHEELS BECOME A GLOBAL PLAYER WITHIN A DECADE?
Source: The Emirates Times
A new animal is in town; when we say animal, we mean it in the most pleasing way possible. That's what this Serial Entrepreneur is called by friends and his competition. An excentric workaholic that has the ability to run multiple businesses at the same time. 25, to be exact.
One of his babies, as he is calling the company, is LOMA Wheels. A company that has been creating alloy wheels since 2008 and is now one of the three most known aftermarket custom wheels manufacturers worldwide. By searching on the internet, we found that pre-owned forged alloy wheels from LOMA are on sale for an incredible amount of over $30,000 per set for a Ferrari LaFerrari! This price was not posted by LOMA Wheels but by its resellers.
Of course, we wanted to know what and who is behind this custom wheels brand that opened its doors in Dubai in 2022.
When you visit their website at www.lomawheels.com, you will quickly recognize that their products are for Ferrari, Rolls Royce, and Co., not really for the working class. On average, their custom alloy wheels are going for over $8,000 per set over the table.
What is so astonishing is that Mario Radosavljevic started this company with only 50 bucks in his pocket. After being a successful football player in the 90s, he lost all his wealth. He fell into a deep depression after losing his mother to Cancer. It went so far that this guy was homeless and slept for over six months on the streets of Germany. But if you think that's horrible, wait until you hear this.
He was living with his dogs and didn't want to give them away, but because he did not have money to buy for them and for him food, he bought dog food in cans and shared it 50/50 with his dogs. Yes, you read right. He ate dog food for over 6 months! No wonder we wanted to talk with him about this and ask him how he made it from being Homeless to this incredibly wealthy life in Dubai.
The Emirate Times: We already had the pleasure of interviewing you on some other topics, and our readers seem to like what you have to say. The click-through numbers don't lie. We came across this incredible story from one of your business partners, and we couldn't resist asking you, how did all of that happen?
Mario Radosavljevic: First of all, thank you for having me, and secondly, my business partners are obviously talking too much (laughter). Well, how did all of this happen? Life is writing crazy stories, and sometimes they are not very nice.
The Emirate Times: This is for sure true for all of us, but we have been told that you were an excellent football player, so we assume you have made a lot of money. So how did it happen that you became homeless?
Mario Radosavljevic: I was very unhappy with my life because I did not understand back in the day what my purpose in life was. After watching my mother die for 1,5 years of Cancer, I fell into a deep hole and could not find the way out of it. You would be amazed how quick your life goes down if you don't see a way out.
The Emirate Times: We have been told that you ate dog food from canes and shared it with your dogs for over six months. Is that really true?
Mario Radosavljevic: (Laughing) Yes, that is really true.
The Emirate Times: But why? We were talking in our office about it, and nobody can wrap his mind around it to understand why you ate dog food instead of regular food for humans.
That's easy to explain. I had to make a decision. Giving my dogs away or sharing their food. It was not their fault to be in this situation to live and sleep on the streets. It was my weakness and stupidity that created this situation. So how could I possibly believe that God will not kill me straight on the spot if I allow a living creature to suffer because of me? Saying that, it was clear what I had to do, and it changed everything.
The Emirate Times: It changed everything? What do you mean by that?
Mario Radosavljevic: It showed me that I am willing to do what it takes to master my current situation. And so one day, I woke up half frozen as concrete can be cold, and my brain fog disappeared, and for the first time, I had a clear vision of what I would stop doing.
I will stop being sorry for myself. I will stop seeing myself as a victim. I will start taking responsibility and sacrifice everything to return to normal life. So I asked my sister if she could help me with 500 bucks to create a new life. Well, you can imagine her face by hearing that you start a new life with 500 Euros in your pocket, but she gave it to me.
The Emirate Times: So you had your family in the same City but did not ask
them for help?
Mario Radosavljevic: Yes, I was simply too proud, and I blamed them for the whole situation instead of blaming myself.
The Emirate Times: Before we ask you about what happened next, our team is dying to hear how dog food tastes (laughter).
Mario Radosavljevic: Let's put it this way. There will never be a Drive-in where you can order it. It is disgusting, and you have a terrible breath from your mouth for days. Besides that, this was the smallest problem. My biggest problem was that this food was not made for humans. So the digestion does not really work and causes a lot of stomach pain, and what comes out on the backend can be described as rocket fuel (laughter).
The Emirate Times: OMG! So how it came to the point that you started an alloy wheels company?
Mario Radosavljevic: Well, I said to myself, let's do something that will be fun, and I can make money with it.
The Emirate Times: Was it fun?
Mario Radosavljevic: Hell No! At least not in the beginning. Banks didn't want to talk with me, not to speak about any loans or similar. I started with a private label with factories that I found, and with the first custom wheels under my arm, I started polishing some door handles.
I drove up to 1000 kilometers per day, visiting hundreds of companies per month all over Europe, asking if anyone wanted to work with me and sell my brand LOMA. Most of them kicked me out in a friendly way, but still.
The Emirate Times: But how did you finance all of this?
Mario Radosavljevic: You don't want to know that (laughter). I recognized quickly that walking into car dealerships would not work, so I tried another strategy and created my first website. Back in 2008, which is not that long ago, online shopping was still in the very beginning, and selling alloy wheels online was more of a science fiction idea than a reality. People wanted to see how custom wheels look in real life, not on pictures.
While more and more websites were popping up,
customers slowly started understanding that online shopping is the future instead of driving through half of the country to see a product.
The Emirate Times: But how did it become such a success? To our information, you are selling around 12,000 alloy wheels per year.
Mario Radosavljevic: That was true before the pandemic hit us that hard. Now it's a bit less but still a considerable amount of alloy wheels we sell.
The significant change came in 2009 at the Motorshow in Germany. I was able to get a pre-owned C6 Corvette and modified it heavily. With 20 bucks in my pocket, I attempted the Essen Motorshow at a booth I shared with 5 other companies. So for all of us was clear it would be a disaster. Nobody can present his product alone and with enough space so that the total picture to the customer looks better.
The Emirate Times: And there you sold the car?
Mario Radosavljevic: My idea was to create a Limited Edition Corvette that would be sold for 250.000 Euros ($300,000 back in the day) which was an obscene price for such a car. But I
said they were tuned Porsche, Mercedes, and other luxury cars for that price, so why not try it with a Corvette.
Once I realized that only eBay sellers with cheap plastic helicopters and similar stuff were around our booth, my chances of finding a customer were below zero.
The Emirate Times: So what happened?
Mario Radosavljevic: It happened that my hidden marketing talent changed the game forever, not only for me but for the whole industry. I gave my creation the name C6.BlackforceOne, as I wanted it to sound a bit like the Airforce One, and the car was painted with the original paint of the Euro Fighter.
Germany's biggest newspaper, called the "Bild Zeitung," with over 60 Million copies daily, had 3 headliners one day before the opening of the Motorshow. Angelika Merkel, the Swine Flue, and my car were on the front page and have been exposed to over 60 Million Germans. Only one headliner on the front page, "The Prince of Darkness is coming to the Essen Motorshow, "with a big picture of my car.
This day the server broke down as we had over 40 Million clicks on the website in a single day, and something amazing happened. The Managers of Kroymans Netherlands, which was Corvette Europe back in the day, visited the booth and asked me to become their "House Tuning Company" and gave me a cheque of $250,000 to get started. They ordered all 25 cars, and the rest is history.
The Emirate Times: Incredible. So you were a lucky guy these days.
Mario Radosavljevic: Honestly, I don't believe in being lucky. I believe in looking for opportunities. I risked everything to be on this show. This little bit of money I made, I invested in the car and in the booth. With only 20 bucks on a 10-day exhibition in your pocket to eat and drink was not that much fun, if you know what I mean.
I was risking everything and won. But staying in your comfort zone will bring you nowhere, no matter how much you believe in luck.
The Emirate Times: So what advice would you give young entrepreneurs and startups that are trying to become successful?
Mario Radosavljevic: Be patient, take your time and trust the process. The more you force it, the more it will become a disaster. You need a bulletproof strategy because this way, you will not make random decisions.
The Emirate Times: Thank you for your time.