Radio Active keeps cars, homes wired

Employees at Radio Active in Pelham work on a customer's vehicle Nov. 2 at the business off U.S. 31. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Nearly every day of the week, Wesley Fields and Greg Brown can be found installing subwoofers, covering cars in wild-colored graphic wraps and transforming vehicles of every kind into customized machines to match their drivers’ tastes.

Brown and Fields, the manager and assistant manager of Pelham’s Radio Active car audio and customization store, have spent countless hours modifying everything from a massive Hummer H2 to an EZ-GO golf cart.

The store, which has been operating in Pelham for 27 years and is currently off U.S. 31 near its intersection with Yeager Parkway, is filled with everything from satellite radios to a bass-filled room stacked to the ceiling with subwoofers.

“We try to carry only high-quality stuff. We don’t want the low-quality cheap stuff,” Fields said. “So far, our business has been hanging in there.”

A few years ago, Radio Active began selling and installing full-vehicle graphic wraps, which transform a normal-looking vehicle into a brightly colored eye-catcher. The store also began selling and installing home audio equipment and setups, which has brought the store a more varied clientele than it had in the past, Fields said.

“Our customers are a mix (of young and old),” Fields said. “The car stereo stuff is usually more of that 16-to-mid-20s group.

“When we do home audio, we do a lot of custom setups, retrofitting and things like that,” Fields added. “That is usually the 35-and-up age group.”

The company’s vehicle wraps put Radio Active on an international stage in 2009, when the National Guard-sponsored racecar in the Indianapolis 500 sported a wrap installed by the Pelham business.

“That was definitely pretty neat to see our work in that race,” Brown said.

Fields said the economy has taken a toll on the business, as fewer customers have expendable income for items such as car stereo setups and customized home speaker systems.

“When the economy goes down, the first thing that usually goes is the toys,” Fields said with a laugh. “It’s typically slow this time of year because the kids are back in school, but it will probably start picking up again in the next few months.”

“Everything we do is a complete luxury. Nobody has to have anything we sell,” Brown said. “So branching out into different areas helps us expand our customer base.”

For Fields and Brown, working to install custom electronics setups and create wild-looking vehicles is a way for them to earn a living while enjoying a longtime hobby.

“It’s nice to really enjoy what you’re doing,” Brown said.