November '18

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94 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2018 realized he didn't want to stay in trucking— instead, he wanted to create a specialty vehicle business that would be a car guy destination like The Henry Ford. The next morning at breakfast, Greg broke the news to Leah. "She wanted to stab me," he says. "But I explained that it wasn't about trucks or cars or money—it was about life. And she let me go after what I really wanted to do. As a result, we recently opened Greg's Speed Shop in Waupaca, Wisconsin." IT TAKES A VILLAGE The shop ( is a kind of mini-Automobile in American Life exhibit that Greg constructed. However, it's not really that small by specialty shop standards. Greg's Speed Shop currently encompasses 10,000 square feet, with plans to expand to 20,000 square feet once Stelse adds on a 150-foot addition to the brand-new shop building he just opened for business. On top of that, he has purchased 80 acres of land behind the shop where he plans to construct what he calls a "1940s/1950s village." And when he sells the trucking company (he says a deal is already in the works) he plans to buy another 100 acres to make the village even larger. "We want to start with a town square on the 80 acres," he explains. "That's how real villages started and then they built out from there. I want to make a destination that's a little more accessible to people than a museum, so that car enthusiasts can enjoy it. And I don't know where it's going to go from there. I'll just start with kind of M any owners of specialty car shops say they are livin' the dream because they earn a living working on the types of cars they love. For 46-year-old Greg Stelse of Wis- consin, the dream started at a specific time in his life and because of a specific trip he made with his wife Leah to The Henry Ford (formerly The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village) in Dear- born, Michigan. In 1987, that institution (www.thehen opened a permanent exhibi- tion called The Automobile in American Life that had six main sections: • The Automotive Landscape • The Automobile as American Symbol • Getting Away from it All • Advertising and Promoting the Auto- mobile • Designing the Automobile • The Evolution of the Automobile and its Industry As the names suggest, the exhibi- tion included cars as well as artifacts of the automotive lifestyle, ranging from a 1940s Texaco gas station, to a 1930s diner, to an early Holiday Inn guest room. Albert H. Woods Associates Inc. of New York City designed the exhibit. The Stelses' trip took place four years ago, about three weeks after they had purchased a "couple of million dollars" worth of new semis for their GS Trucking LLC in New London, Wisconsin. "When I was in the museum I felt like Henry Ford was talking to me," Greg recalls. "He said, 'Get off your butt and go do what you want.'" On the way home in their RV, Greg Inspired by Henry Ford, Greg & Leah Stelse now have the shop(s) they always wanted. Livin' the DREAM By John Gunnell Inspired by a love of car culture, Greg & Leah Stelse are pursuing their passions with a speed shop that also houses a clothing boutique, hair salon and, someday, an entire village. 94 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2018 Greg's Speed Shop in Wisconsin opened as a place to buy parts, talk cars and slow life down for a while.

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