February '19

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28 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2019 Love J ack Kniola of Mich- igan City, Indiana- based Kniola Auto- motive (pronounced ken-no-la) has hunted down performance parts for enthusiasts in the northern Indiana area and beyond for nearly 50 years—and he's far from ready to retire. Kniola, 77, opened his 500-square-foot parts store in 1968 after a stint at the steel mills in nearby Gary, Indiana. Since then, the store has grown to encompass 6,500 square feet of retail and storage space and now, with the help of five employees, sells everything from vent visors and disc brakes to rotating- assembly kits for small-block Chevrolets. THE ART OF SELLING EVERYTHING "We don't specialize in one field—we sell everything," Kniola says. "It's hard for a shop to specialize unless you're a notable racer or engine builder. We're just a notable retailer in our area, so we sell everything related to the automotive field." Kniola Automotive has generalizations of engines assembled to sell on the floor for customers to purchase and build on to. The shop stocks mostly popular short- block assembly Chevy motors, which can be customized for a variety of purposes. "We can put together a drag racing motor, demolition derby motor or a plea- sure motor, depending on what the cus- tomer wants," Kniola says. Rotating assemblies are big sellers at the store, in addition to hoses and fittings, gaskets and engine components. OF PARTS FOR THE How an Indiana retailer's partnerships & dedication to service continue to support nearly 50 years of success. By Patricia Kaowthumrong Photos by Peni Aronson Jack Kniola is the automo- tive industry's eminent man behind the counter. Three generations of customers have been visiting Michigan City, Indiana- based Kniola Automotive to find Jack Kniola behind the counter. Whether it's a repeat customer or a stranger who walks into the store looking for a part, "We pride our- selves on finding that item. Or we'll find out more about it and refer him to someplace where he can get it."

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