I can’t believe what happened and at the same time, I am not surprised. The day started like any other. I went to work at Chassisworks at my regular time, late as usual (Can you be late for work when you work 12 hours a day?). Everything seemed normal. Then my phone rang, my old pal Terry Cole was calling (actually he’s not ‘old’ and is younger than I am.  Terry and I have known each other for so long that I’m not sure any more when we met.)

Chris Alston is the President and founder of Chris Alston’s Chassisworks.  Located in Sacramento, California, Chassisworks is the leading company in the aftermarket chassis and suspension industry.  Known for a plethora of cutting edge products, Chris’ engineering prowess is responsible for many cool components in the new-age handling market for street machines. The company started as a manufacturer of racing frames that lent themselves to the home builder and quickly became one of the first places that hands-on enthusiasts turn to when upgrading their car’s suspension and frames.  One of the trademarks of Alston’s business is that he manufacturers most of his company’s products in-house, including an extensive line of performance shocks, and provides complete and extensive instructions for the home-builder.

After the customary phone call greetings, he delivered the news. After years of service as editor/editorial director of Super Chevy Magazine, he was GONE. At first I couldn’t believe it. Obviously my first question was, “Why?”  The short (and printable) version was that the higher-ups wanted to change things to a ‘new vision’ of someone else’s reality and Terry just didn’t want to go that direction after years of creating what was unquestionably the enthusiasts' bible.

We talked for a long time that day about how this could happen. I reminded him about my own personal job loss story. It has been almost 20 years since my brothers (who I was partners with in the original Alston Engineering) sacked me for a ‘new vision.’ Now it was clear what needed to be done. I spent the rest of our conversation explaining how I not only survived the worst job loss of my life but, turned it into the best thing that ever happened in my career.

The first thing to do was to fantasize about all the evil things that you could do to get even. Maybe you could buy the brass subscriptions to gay men’s magazines and have them sent to their work address. It would be years before the rumors subsided. Or, could we hire pregnant girls to proclaim to their wives that they just need some help with the baby or, my personal favorite, just move on. Take your skills and start something new. They can take your job and the power they gave you but they can’t take your talent.

One of life’s most valuable lessons is that no one can take the talent, experience, drive, intelligence, creativeness, or anything else that the lives inside of you. I reminded him that this industry is full of individuals who were tossed out and became very successful.

Few people have the vision to create things new. Terry had transformed Super Chevy into a best-in-class magazine. No one can deny that and I urged him not to forget that fact.

From experience I knew that as the news reached more and more people, two things would happen. First, it was going to be immediately clear who your friends are. Second, from those people who know and respect your skills, opportunities will develop. I urged him to take some time for it all to settle in and if managed correctly, it could be the best thing that happed in his career.

As the days and weeks went by, I saw the transformation begin. Lots of people called to offer support and the opportunities started coming in. When we talked I could hear excitement in his voice. Then, Terry told me what he was going to do. Our mutual long time pal Jeff Burk the longtime publisher of web magazine Drag Racing Online wanted to start an online Chevy magazine.

MaxChevy was born and its father would be the single most qualified person for the task, Terry Cole. It will be interesting and exciting to watch it grow. Which brings me to the whole reason for this column, Terry asked me if I would be interested in writing a monthly column for MaxChevy. How could I refuse one more thing to do, no problem.

I intend to write about a variety of topics. I have been a manufacturer in this industry for over 30 years and intend to share a lot of stories and personal views about the state of our industry. See you next month.  

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