Lee Sweitzer has been around Mustangs all his life and even had a 1984 5.0 Mustang for his first car. At 17, he graduated high school and joined the service to become a Marine. He was stationed in Southern California and continued to race Mustangs. He has spent several years planning and preparing to open up his own performance shop to follow his passion. Lee has seen shop owners work themselves to the bone and is trying very hard to avoid falling into those pitfalls. He understands that it takes a bunch of hard work, but he wants to avoid making mistakes by researching ways to operate more efficiently. He has attended the Essentials of Operating a Shop seminar, many business seminars, talked with business coaches, and read business books.
He has just received the keys to his initial shop space and has begun to get the business going part time. It is a very small space but he really isn’t tied down to a lease agreement so he has the option to move out whenever he needs more space. Lee already plans to work part time for several months to build up a client base and then look into moving into a larger space to hold multiple lifts and eventually, a chassis dyno. He is taking the task of opening up a shop very seriously and wants to limit his risk of making mistakes as he moves forward. Writing a formal business plan was an integral part of this process. While this may seem rare in the performance automotive world, writing a business plan forces you to take a hard look at the structure of how you want to operate.
Carlos Tirado remembers reading car enthusiast magazines while riding the school bus every day. His brother bought a 1995 DSM and he fell in love with imports. His brother sold the car but Carlos was able to track it down and purchase it back when he was in high school. After graduation, he went to college to work with electronics and it just didn’t interest him as much as he hoped. He shifted gears and changed his major to automotive refinishing. This is where he found how he could turn his passion for cars into a way to make money. He stumbled into powder coating when he saw some people posting on the forum needing their DSM valve covers to be powder coated.
Carlos met Jorge of JMS Racing and they formed a business and personal relationship of working together. The business officially started when Carlos asked his forum buddies what he should call his business. He has since moved locations to be right by JMS Racing and continues to capitalize on that business relationship.
He now rents a 1000 square foot facility and keeps it full of work. He has focused on producing the highest quality product possible and has invested quite a bit on upgrading his equipment. Carlos hopes to hire one or two employees over the next year and move to a larger facility so he can meet the demand for his work.
Jack McGee’s earliest memories of working on electronics, and even repairing VCR’s when he was 8. All of this was taking place in Jack’s home country of Spain and a little bit in Italy. It wasn’t until he was 15 that his father retired from the military and they moved to Colorado Springs, CO where he still lives today.
His first real business venture was partnering with local electronic stores and repair various items these stores would collect. This was a great venture for a while but he could see the market beginning to shrink and decided to stop this side repair business. He entered the workforce as a typical employee: guaranteed work, benefits, overtime pay, etc. But it just didn’t satisfy his need for exciting work. So he left this job and spent some time taking a break from life responsibilities. A few years go by and Jack ended up purchasing a Galant VR4 which he eventually rebuilt the trans for. Word spread that he was doing this and he started doing more and more work on these cars. One thing led to another and Jack looked up one day and had purchased a 5000 square foot building which he still works out of today.
Now, Jack does everything he can to make the customers happy and keep improving his business. Difficult problems have arisen, but he and his team have done whatever they could to solve any issues that customers may encounter. And he is continually looking for ways to increase the efficiency at his shop. With 13 employees, this task is quite daunting but totally worth it when they can cut out wasteful activities. This has helped Jacks Transmissions become more successful than ever and given them direction on where to focus their efforts.
Jeremy is a 4th generation gearhead. He grew up working on everything from go carts to dune buggies to race cars while growing up. And he still has the same passion today as he did when he was a kid. The traditional college path just didn’t feel right and Jeremy decided to go back to work with his dad at one of his body shops. This is when he began transitioning towards working on hot rods. He got a job at a small hot rod shop and eventually purchased the shop. They have since moved from the original location and have grown to 50,000 square feet and employ 60 people.
Jeremy is very focused on making improvements at the shop. As the business has grown, he and his brother have had to take on more professional roles and drift away from getting their hands dirty. This means implementing new software to manage and track the workflow called GlobalShop. They work hard to ensure their fabricators have all the parts and tools they need within easy reach. They talk with the chassis guys to hear ways to speed up and simplify the processes. They attribute a lot of their success to constantly improving their operations.