Meet Tatum Ronco, 26 born in Scottsdale, Arizona the Co-Founder and Owner of Tatum UTV – an industry-leading UTV parts manufacturer that produces high-quality, high-performance USA parts from USA materials. Tatum UTV is based in Peoria, Arizona with operations worldwide.
Tatum Ronco is a woman with a goal to disrupt the industry known as “a man’s world”. ‘’I’m motivated by myself and the people around me and driven daily to break the records of yesterday. With a passion for vehicles since birth, I knew I was destined to do something like this.’’
What inspired you to start Tatum UTV.
Powersports has always been my passion! The first race I had ever gone to was to watch my dad when I was just 2 weeks old. 4 years later, I got into a race car myself and that was when I fell in love! The racetrack is where I met my closest friends and felt supported by the people around me the most. With a family business in off-road, I learned the ropes, made great connections, acquired valuable skills, and decided it was time to venture out on my own and put the entrepreneur skills I had been taught since I was a kid, to use. I saw a gap in the market for high-quality USA manufactured parts at a reasonable price and took advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on that demand in the Powersports market.
In your own words what do you do?
I proudly manage Tatum UTV. That includes wearing a lot of hats! As every entrepreneur knows, the first few years mean you are the accountant, the sales team, the customer service team, the shipping team, etc. Would I change it for a second? Nope.
Now that I have a great team, they help manage some areas of the business and have taken some weight off my plate. My day-to-day includes managing the supply chain, answering the phones, processing and shipping orders, managing social accounts, managing sponsorships, and dealer relationships, and finalizing designs.
When did you first know that you wanted to work for yourself?
I was fortunate to grow up with parents that were hardworking, honest people. Throughout my childhood, I had the opportunity to see them struggle as well as watch them achieve, surpass, and continue to make new goals. Their transparency really paved the path for me to see first-hand that the good, hard work you put in is directly related to your successes. I have worked for multiple publicly traded companies and time after time was let down after seeing my work wasn’t directly related to my success – whether it be a promotion, assigned the job, or leading the team. Aside from that, I always knew I wanted to be the boss! LOL. Since I was a child, I always had a side hustle. I learned to sew from my grandmother around 6 years old and took my pieces to craft shows on the weekends with her. In high school, I went on to sell my goods, including hand-made bikinis and then hand-painted customizable jean and leather jackets after that. I have always had that drive to be creative and make a product that people enjoy. Throughout high school and college I worked for my family’s business welding, fabricating, and assembling off-road racecars and sand cars. Recently, I knew I wanted to do something bigger than I ever had before.
Do you have anything exciting on the horizon that you can tell us about?
The cool thing about our machine shop that separates us from the competition is that we have countless amounts of capabilities all under one roof. Not only can we manufacture the parts, but we can also 3D scan, CAD Design, weld, fabricate, program and more. This gives us a big opportunity to not only manufacture our own label but also provide a one-stop-shop for big players in the industry to private label their products. I have some big projects I’m working on with some companies that have large-scale sale networks throughout the US.
What has been the biggest challenge/ hurdle you have faced so far?
There are 2 large hurdles I’ve faced – both revolving around the time we launched and hit the market. Our competitors in the industry have been around for 10+ years. Competing with UTV companies with the advantage of longevity and being a “house-hold” brand name is a challenge. However, having the Tatum Motorsports name in the industry has helped tremendously. My father’s company has had a “high-quality, high-performance” reputation in the off-road car industry for 25+ years. Having the name was great, but the team still had to work hard at marketing and sales to get the new brand out there.
The biggest hurdle of the 2 has been the supply chain issues the US has been facing. Getting materials has been HARD. Reshaping our purchasing strategies has been a struggle. Lead times on some of our most popular materials have gone from 1 day to up to 18 weeks. Having a degree in Supply Chain from W.P. Carey has really helped the transition go smoothly, by being able to use that knowledge as a solid foundation to make critical decisions for the business. Thus, making it possible to maintain the speed in which we are producing to get our parts to our customers.
Do you have any special advice for other ‘sport diva’s’ out there?
Stay consistent, supportive, and motivated. Being a woman in a man’s world has its perks and its downfalls. We are sometimes seen as the underdog, which I am totally OK with, it just gives me more opportunity, and even more motivation to continue to prove them wrong. We need to stick together and really show the world that we can come out on top if we stay consistent to ourselves and our goals.
What marketing strategies have not worked for you and you would like to share with people?
Being a product-based company, my first thought was, “let’s do product promotion ads on the big social platforms.” I soon learned that I was wasting money on ads and seeing little to no returns. Technology isn’t always the answer. Word of mouth, trade shows, sponsorships and great customer service have shown me returns much greater than any platform’s product ads. Instead of spending the money on ads, I spent the time to reach out to customers, talk with potential clients and show face at different shops and trade shows. I realized that my product speaks for itself in person better than it does online. People need to see the craftsmanship and true beauty of a part to become a long-lasting customer. Networking has helped a ton and I am a true believer that strong and honest work relationships take you much farther than anything else in business.
What is your ultimate dream for the business?
I like to dream big! (Don’t we all!) I have lots of plans for the business I would love to see come true. My ultimate dream would be a big shop with 20+ machines running 3 shifts and producing a different variety of parts for the industry. There’s a lot to be done before this dream becomes a reality but we are on the right track. I am blessed with my team, and we have all the capabilities to make the dream a reality plus some!
What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
Independence. Independence. Independence. There’s a sense of pride you feel when you become independent. When you’re independent, you can conquer anything. And just because you’re independent doesn’t mean you can’t be dependent in certain areas of your life. Knowing you can handle anything on your own makes you glow differently.
What is the one advice that has impacted you the most?
I’ve gotten an amazing amount of advice from the people around me. Almost everyone in my circle is a female business owner. We bounce ideas and advice off each other all the time. The support system I have is amazing – I am so blessed to have them. A piece of advice I received a while ago has been on my mind lately – don’t wait for tomorrow. It can really relate to any part of my life, which is why I think it’s been super relative to me lately. But in a business sense, I’ve realized that I will NEVER get time back. Things don’t move forward, succeed, progress, if they get pushed off until tomorrow. Get your checklist checked off. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow will have its own long list of “to-do’s”.