Remembering where you came from

We say that this is the time of year when friends get together and celebrate.  Yesterday, I was talking to a long time buddy and business associate Jeff Stange from Strange Engineering. We are working together on a new drive train part specifically designed to deal with some of the unique requirements of g-machine-style muscle cars.  I don’t want to reveal anything just yet about that project, but it reminded me of a very interesting story that I think you’ll enjoy.

This is a part of my life that I will never forget because it goes to the core of something I truly believe in.  As a successful person, it is extremely important to me to remember where I came from. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. In fact, I am the fourth of eight children who grew up in the 1950’s and ‘60’s in a very modest household. My father’s favorite saying (and he said it every time we left the house) was, “write if you find work.” It must have been some sort of Depression-era saying, and the meaning was clear - learn to support yourself.

As I grew to a young man and became consumed by cars, like most in our industry, I dreamed of some day making a living in the auto racing industry. I started out building drag race chassis for other people out of my home garage.  I did have a good day job too; I worked for the local phone company as a phone installer. That was the old days when someone actually came to your house and installed the phone and all its wiring. I designed and fabricated parts for other people’s race cars as much as I could without affecting my “real” job. As I built my reputation and improved my skills I always dreamed of someday “making it.” I will never forget that the very first company to sell to me on wholesale terms was Strange Engineering

In 1976, I was calling Strange from a phone booth in a strip mall because this was the only way I could get to them during the day while they were open.  I still had my day job at the phone company and this was way before cell phones. Bob Stange (Jeff’s father) explained to me that Strange Engineering had a program that was perfect for small volume chassis builders that would allow me to purchase drive train components wholesale so I could provide them to my customers and actually make some money. This business relationship is now 30 years old. Chassisworks also has a program for small chassis builders and installers that will allow them the same opportunity to grow that I had way back then.

And what I relish most about these life stories is that I will never forget where I came from. My advice to you: Learn to support yourself and follow your dreams. It worked for me, and it CAN work for you.

Have a Happy Holiday season with your family. 

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