It’s Electric! ECCO Motors, Your Everything Golf Cart and Low Speed Vehicle Shop

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By Christopher Manson

ECCO Motors owner Scott Lightsey spent decades in automotive service, rentals, parts and “you name it.” He moved to Destin from Tallahassee 20 years ago, thinking he was “in the early stages of retirement, but I realized you have to put away a lot more money!”

ECCO Motors Owner Scott LightseyAt age 50, Lightsey fired up his golf cart business, which was not in particularly high demand at the time. “I started off very small,” he says. “A 600-square-foot building in Fort Walton Beach.” In 2005, Lightsey moved his operation to Mountain Drive in Destin and quickly established his customer base.

ECCO Motors opened its Miramar Beach location (on 147 Professional Drive) in order to be closer to its clientele. “I just kept doing the right thing, taking care of customers,” says Lightsey. Along with selling golf carts and Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs), the ECCO team began custom building cars “and that took on a life of its own.”

ECCO Motors CarLightsey continued to build on a foundation of quality and being service oriented. “The industry has been in a constant state of flux. We started with the three major brands, and now we have a proliferation of new, better-equipped models.”

Last year, another extension opened at the Mountain Drive location. “We’re always innovating and looking for new ways to serve our customers,” says Lightsey. The Mountain Drive location has begun a vehicle storage program based on the boat storage concept. “We take care of the cars while the owners are out of town.”

Today, we’re at the Destin location—on Emerald Coast Parkway, across from Regatta Bay—where Lightsey tells me the common thread for all three locations is serving his customers better than anyone else.

“Destin has been good to us – the whole area,” he says. “The key behind all of this is hiring good people that care and see the value in our customer relations.

“We’ve had some difficulty hiring good people, this being an expensive place to live. We recruit people from Crestview, Navarre – people willing to come here on a daily basis.”

Future plans for ECCO Motors include setting up what Lightsey calls “satellite operations”—smaller stores in areas that are really growing, such as Freeport and Navarre. “It’s a ‘hub and spoke’ concept,” he says. “The main business would remain here, but the smaller stores can take care of customers that don’t want to come to Destin.”

Back in the Tallahassee days, a good friend of Lightsey’s was involved with solar energy. “He had someone custom build him an electric car back in the ‘90s, and I participated in some of the electric car events being put on at the time—multi-day road rallies, visits to schools to bring electric car awareness. This was before Tesla and all the major manufacturers.”

He was bitten by the electric car concept. “Me and some guys invested in a car that would do about 110 miles per hour, which was unheard of (at the time). It was real impressive that we could build an electric car.” Lightsey investigated the market and discovered that golf carts were the closest things to electric cars.

“There were a few golf cart shops in the area when I started that mostly catered to the golf clientele,” he says. “Not to the degree that I jumped in.”

Back then, golf carts were a novelty form of transportation. You rarely saw them outside of Sandestin and other gated communities. “We were the pioneers who stepped into that space early,” says Lightsey. “A lot of people have gotten into the business since then—not because of us, but because of the demand for these types of vehicles.”

Along with relationships, ECCO Motors feels it’s important to be involved in the community. For example, in recent years, ECCO Motors has partnered with this publication for the Destin Christmas Parade. “Part of being socially involved is supporting the community. Giving back is as important as receiving,” says Lightsey.

As for the basic appeal of electric vehicles, Lightsey boils it down. “They’re like ‘land boats.’ You have all the freedom—wind in your face, you’re not confined in a car. There’s not a lot of road rage! You feel the temperature, you smell and hear everything. It’s a very economical way to get around.

“The majority of our buyers have two elements to address—their pets and their kids. Those two groups really enjoy the experience.”

ECCO Motors is located in Destin and Miramar Beach. Call 850.837.2600 to learn more, or visit eccomotors.com.

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