October '19

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6 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2019 S idelines that bring in a few extra bucks to supplement a specialty vehicle shop's monthly income can sometimes be the difference in keeping the doors open another month. Hot rod shops, custom car shops, truck shops and restoration shops don't always have a steady flow of work. For instance, shops in the Midwest may slow up in the winter, while a shop in Florida or Cali- fornia may pick up winter business from vacationers. If a shop can provide a product or a service that other shops or car enthusiasts need, it can make important contributions to its bottom line. Shop owners often detect a need for a certain item and have the talent needed to fabricate it. They can then make and sell that item for a tidy profit. Other times the sideline may have less to do with an automotive detour and more with the shop owner's personal passion or talent away from the garage. Let's look at eight shops and companies that have found unique ways to create extra business by marketing sidelines to their main car-building endeavors. COLLISION REPAIRS & RESTORATIONS If you work for Bob Lorkowski, you might find yourself doing bodywork on a Dodge Dakota one day and restoring a Duesen- berg the next. Lorkowski's L'Cars ( res- toration shop in Cameron, Wisconsin, was planned as a facility that could turn out Pebble Beach winners, but he also owns an autobody shop in a nearby town. Each of Lorkowski's shops has a different focus and different identity, but being able to switch talent between the two locations allows him to better utilize his labor if busi- ness in one of the two market niches slows down slightly. L'Cars has been in business since 1989 and its work has won a number of pres- tigious honors. To house the business, Lorkowski built a large, low, modern building in Cameron, a small town close enough to Minnesota to draw customers from the Twin Cities. His trim shop fills the front of the building. It does auto upholstery, convert- ible tops and building awnings. These side- lines also contribute to the shop's ongoing success. Lorkowski's car passion traces to when he drag-raced a 1938 Chevy at Chicago-area tracks in the 1960s and '70s. In 1978, he opened his collision-repair shop in Bruce, Wisconsin. He still runs it, as mentioned above. When car collecting took off, he decided complete restorations trumped taking dents out of fenders. Later, when restoration demand slowed, he started doing partial restorations "as long as the customer still wants top-quality work." Lorkowski the old car fanatic has a per- sonal preference for the big jobs that are more challenging and more rewarding. "We want that client who is looking to have the Pebble Beach Best of Show car," he says. "This shop was designed for that type of work and we expect to get more such jobs as our restorations take more and more awards." RINGBROTHERS MAKES PARTS TOO Cars built by Ringbrothers (www.ring- Automotive Work & More Some shops turn to sidelines to expand their horizons. By John Gunnell Bob Lorkowski of L'Cars driving a Daimler limo he restored. The vintage chauffeur's uniform he's wearing may have been sewn up in his own upholstery shop. In addition to making building awnings and doing partial restorations, L'Cars grew its busi- ness by starting to build hot rods like this beautiful Shark-Nose Graham. Personality tests identify versatile workers:

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