February '19

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 36 of 71

FEBRUARY 2019 THE SHOP 31 able and passionate grandson Cory Cook, who is in his late 20s. Cook has worked in the store since he was 6 years old and serves as the vice president of operations. Kniola currently has no plans to retire, but after suffering a heart attack a few years ago, he cautiously transferred ownership of the business over to his two daughters. In fact, Kniola Automotive is a family business at its heart. Kniola reiterates that he wouldn't be able to run the shop without his wife, who's always been supportive of his long hours. His daughters and three grandchildren have all worked at the shop at one time or another. "They're not full-time; they're not even part time—they're family time," he says. "If it wasn't for my family and my friends in the industry, I wouldn't be where I'm at today." KNOWLEDGE = SUCCESS As far as upcoming performance trends, Kniola predicts the LS Chevy motor will continue to attract a strong following. "First it was the Ford flathead, then it was the small-block Chevy," he says. "Now it's the LS Chevy motor. I've seen them put in just about every combination." Kniola encourages other shop owners to attend trade shows, read trade publica- tions and engage with the industry. He's been to nearly every SEMA Show and loves to walk the pits at circle track and drag racing events. "No matter how long we're in business and think we know it all, we never do," he says. "Listen to the customers. Pay attention to what's going on around you. I think that's what you need to do to stay up with it." And Kniola's most-important advice? "If it's your dream, just keep doing it," he says. "If you love it, you might never make a million, but you're going to have a lot of fun." It's always busy at Kniola Automotive. Whether a customer is looking for a head gasket, hard-to-find four-barrel carburetor, valve cover, fan belt, short block or racing cam, the place to find it is in the unassuming building in Mich- igan City, Indiana—about an hour east of Chicago just off U.S. Highway 20. It's a house of automotive educa- tion—not just concerning the latest performance parts and technology, but also of automotive history. And four walls don't contain it all. The adjacent salvage yard is an eclectic outdoor museum comprised of cars, trucks, tractors and other machinery that once reigned supreme on America's highways, tracks and fields. Although faded, they still persist and conjure up visions of long, slow cross-country road trips, cruising around in a roadster with the top down, drag racing at the edge of town or spending a day at the racetrack. Jack Kniola oversees it all and has an encyclopedic recollection of everything in every nook and cranny of the store and outside yard. And he knows what year, make and model just about any part can be used on, or modified to fit. Maybe that's why it's always busy at Kniola Automotive. —Eddie Wieber AUTOMOTIVE EDUCATION

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of THE SHOP - February '19