THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - December '14

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BUSINESS Why we do what we do. By JoAnn Bortles 82 n Performance & Hotrod Business n December 2014 I t was 3 a.m. on a Friday night. I was almost done for the day, having just finished spray- ing the last coat of clear on a paint job. It had been a 19-hour day that had started at 8 a.m. I know this place very well. Years ago it was much harder, knowing that while everyone else was getting ready for the weekend, I would be work- ing, cursing myself as I had not gotten nearly enough work done over the past five days. These late nights/early mornings in the shop are a unique place that I and many others in the custom business are very well acquainted with. Nothing can adequately prepare a person for working these kinds of hours and still work precisely, as it's very easy to make mind-blowing mistakes at the tail end of an 18-hour day. We push ourselves to the limit trying to make that deadline, even when we feel like the walking dead. Every fiber of our being is relentlessly begging for sleep. "Yes, I can finish it tomorrow," the words brutally taunt us. But those of us who have made the mis- take of listening to those words know that disaster lies ahead and we will give anything for that extra day—that day that will be lost if we wait until tomorrow. This torment never goes away, whether you're in the business five years or 50, you still go through it all the time. Wrenches Will Slip This subject is on my mind, because as I am typing this, the SEMA Show is a mere two weeks from now and in custom shops across the country, thousands of gallons of energy drinks will be consumed, wrenches will slip because the hands holding them will have been going for over 24 hours with no sleep. Those wrenches will scratch fresh paint, and the screams will be heard echoing across the night sky. There will be moments of defeat when car builders will stop and say, "That's it, we're screwed! We're not going to finish the car in time!" They will throw down their tools and walk away. Then they will come back into the shop, finish the car and make it to the show on time. But this happens more than once a year. It happens all year long: deadlines for the shows. So why do we do it? Why do we put our- selves through what feels worse than hell over and over again? Is it for the money? Most people in the custom business are not getting rich. So why? To understand why, you have to go back and find out how that shop owner/car builder/ custom painter became the person they are. They all have their story. This is mine.

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