Working for a Living for Sept. 20, 2012

For Weekly SurgeSeptember 19, 2012 

Adam McKee, 32, is all about the outdoors, and luckily his entrepreneurial pursuits have enabled him to stay out of a dim cubicle.

Originally from Ashland, Mo., McKee has been a Myrtle Beach resident since 2000. He lived in Chicago for a couple of years and found out that his cousin came to the Grand Strand to attend the Golf Academy. “I turned 21 in Myrtle Beach, and I don’t have to tell you how fun that was,” he says. “The water was calling me, and this seemed like a cool town.”

A number of residents and tourists may have seen McKee, perhaps while looking for a place to park in downtown Myrtle Beach. If you used one of the parking lots there – and got your ticket from an attendant sporting a green Polo shirt, you likely parked in one of his four lots.

McKee says he and a business partner started out slowly eight years ago, but have tried to do things the right way when it came to operating this enterprise. “We put all of our guys in uniforms,” he says. “We go for the professional look. We end up spending more money, but we try to not just be guys standing around in a parking lot.” The objective here is customer service and making people feel safe and secure.

“It all began because my business partner rented from a guy who owned some land – and had been doing this since the 1970s. He gave us an opportunity to come in and take over that lot.” Over time after the Myrtle Beach Pavilion closed, McKee secured leases on other lots in the area. “Everybody thought the Boulevard was going to die and they just scattered.”

McKee spends a lot of time on these lots. “I’ve got control issues. If I’m not there, I’m definitely on the phone every hour – asking how things are going.” He took notes early on – mapping out contingencies. “The only thing that we don’t really have plans for is a hurricane. You have to have a certain amount of time to make your money, basically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In August, which is hurricane season – you might take away a solid week to 10 days, which could hurt.”

Parking lots aside, he’s also stirring up a ruckus – by way of the Honda Ruckus, of which he has a small fleet for rental. “It’s a 49cc Honda moped,” he says. “It looks like something Mad Max would ride.” He says the Ruckus is designed for off-road pursuits such as hunting and fishing, and can be outfitted with accessories including a gun rack or tackle box. “It’s an all-metal moped, and it’s pretty beefy. I think people like the look of them. Of course, the name Honda goes along with reliability and durability, and they get about 140 miles per gallon.” He says he has owned a Ruckus since 2005.

The idea came about because people would rent other mopeds and park them in his lot. “All of this stuff had “Rent Me” on there, and people would ask me how much it cost to rent them.” He started renting out these little Hondas in June, in conjunction with another partner who owns Armadillo Cycles in Myrtle Beach. “I have the location, and he has the knowhow to work on them.” And they are not cheap. A base model starts at $2,570, according to Honda’s Web site. “We had to look at them as not our babies and more as tools to make money. That was hard to do.” Customers can rent by the hour [$10] and by the day [$40] with a $50 deposit.

When we referred to the Ruckus as a scooter, McKee corrected this. “It’s a moped,” he says. “Basically it’s defined by the South Carolina DMV.” He explains that a scooter is classified as a motorcycle that you need a license to operate. A moped engine is less than 50cc.

McKee is also independent dealer for Amsoil, a synthetic oil product. “This is a 25,000 mile oil. I did this because I have multiple cars and motorcycles and thought I’d become a dealer so I wouldn’t have any trouble getting it.”

Like many locals, McKee says that he might take the beach for granted, but he loves it. “I get the cabin fever and can’t stay inside too much.” His go-to for decompression is riding his motorcycles, but he enjoys fishing, ocean kayaking and mountain biking. “I just did five days in western North Carolina and hiked about 100 miles.”

He lives on the north end of Myrtle Beach with wife Elizabeth McKee and 13-month-old daughter, Isla. “I love it here,” he says. “I’ll never leave.”

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at rgyale@gmail.com.

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