WILMINGTON —You can take the boy out of the car, but you can’t take the car out of the boy – not if its National Speed founder and CEO Jordan Watson anyway. “You can’t find a baby picture of me without a car in my hand,” Watson says. Watson is using sophisticated databases and analysis to drive the success and plan the expansion of Wilmington-based National Speed.

Founded in 2012, the profitable company employs 12 people in Wilmington who help its customers – generally car enthusiasts – get the power and pizzazz they want in their automobiles.

The company, which is funded by angel investors, is seeking backing north of a million to expand to new markets using its databases to analyze those with the demographics, population, and specific traits likely to guarantee success. Those, Watson says, include Richmond, VA, Austin, TX, Houston, and Tampa.

“We consider the normal stuff you’d expect, demographics, economic stability, population. But we get into psychology – online user behavior and actions that align with what we proved in Wilmington is likely to be a National Speed customer. It’s proprietary technology that analyzes and quantifies marketplace opportunity.

Using its data, National Speed has identified markets with only 7 times the population of Wilmington that nevertheless have 15 times the likely hood of becoming a customer, Watson says.

The company’s customers range from the 16-year-old kid with a Honda Civic and $100, to the well to do owner of a Cadillac CTS-V or a Corvette z06 who had a hot rod when he was younger and wants to know what can be done (to soup up his ride) and everything in between.

They don’t always know what they want

Watson says they don’t always come through the door knowing what they do want. He says “90 percent of our customers don’t come in with a clear idea of what they want. You have to listen for subtle hints. After 15 minutes you may learn they have a younger brother who got a Shelby GT-500 and “No way he’s gonna have more power than me.”

“It’s our job to inspire and inform and excite the customer,” Watson says.

His own passion for cars has been burning for as long as he can remember. One of his favorite activities as a child was to pull the car ads out of a newspaper and point at the illustrations and make car noises. His favorite toy was a yellow and red plastic car you could propel with your feet. “You could Flintstone around,” he says, “but I didn’t go anywhere. I went places in my mind.

‘It’s been a lifelong thing for me,” he says. “I dream about perfect cars and wake up thinking about perfect cars.”

He admits his obsession with cars wasn’t entirely helpful growing up and may have adversely affected his grades in high school. He wanted to know everything about cars and researched them, brand names, what you could do with each. “If it didn’t align with car culture, I didn’t care,” he says.”So instead, I decided to self-educate, and I never stopped. If it could be used to move things forward, I taught myself how to do it. I learned to surround myself with people who are more experienced than myself, it moves things forward more efficiently.”

But he says he knew if he stayed on the path of his passion, things would work out and they have. “The work I do is why I’m on this planet,” he says.

The company is raising new capital to open its second location, and get it profitable within 7 months. After that, the company plans to roll out 29 locations in the next 5 years.”