Freshman runs automotive off road parts business

Robert Bowden started his 4×4 parts distribution company at 17 in his parents garage, now at 20 he’s got his own offices and is expanding to building custom trucks and jeeps for his customers. “I’m really excited to see Spartan 4×4 grow into a competitive installation company in 2018” said Bowden.

Ambriehl Crutchfield

A red, four-door Jeep Wrangler is the first car many 17-year-olds would dream of owning.

Freshman Robert Bowden dreamt of a Wrangler, but he wanted something different, a rugged look which included adding suspension to raise the height and wheels to go with a new set of tires. Bowden’s parents were not open to upgrading the car because they believed if he worked for it, he would cherish it more. Though Bowden was upset about his parents saying no, he decided to find a way to get the parts so he could modify the car.

Bowden says people often question the need to invest more money into a car, but he feels it’s a way each person can be unique and show their own look.

“Well, you spend so much time in your car, why not enjoy it?” Bowden said. “Even if it’s just sitting in traffic, a lot of people like having a really cool car because you get a lot of looks.”

Bowden began using Instagram to market businesses in hopes of receiving free or discounted aftermarket car parts so he could transform his Jeep. His marketing business soon became an online business that connected manufacturers and consumers by selling aftermarket car parts.

Spartan 4×4 is Bowden’s online retail company that sells aftermarket, off-road parts. His business gives clients the opportunity to customize their car with lights and other accessories that distinguish the car from the original manufacture design. The company began in Atlanta, but relocated to Bowling Green in fall 2017 after Bowden began studying entrepreneurship at WKU.

While exploring organization options, he was told about the Student Business Accelerator which helps students develop the next steps with their business and connects them to resources in the community.

Bowden presented a 12-page business plan explaining Spartan 4×4 and the future goals for the business. He also provided information to show his business is legal and operates by state and federal laws. After presenting this to the director of the WKU Center for Research and Development, Jeff Hook, Bowden had the opportunity to lease a 300 square foot space in the Center for Research and Development. His office is currently located there.

Bowden said the opportunities have provided him with a professional environment to network and access to consulting services for his business.

The assistant director of the Center for Research and Development, Andrea Hales, said she enjoys working with student entrepreneurs because she believes they are more likely to plant their business roots in Bowling Green.

“What is exciting about working here is the spirit alive in each entrepreneur we work with,” Hales said. “It’s very evident they have their minds and their dreams and aspirations set on following the idea or service that they have in their mind into fruition.”

Bowden said he wants to use Bowling Green as the headquarters as he expands his business nationally.

“I take a lot of small steps because that’s how they add up to your big goals,” Bowden says. “Focusing on the end goal is the biggest part, and our end goal is having a physical installation center and then creating this brand that is known nationwide.” 

News reporter Ambriehl Crutchfield can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Ambriehl on Twitter at @ambriehlc.