My love affair with automobiles, and more specifically Porsche, started at the 50th anniversary celebration of Porsche in Monterey California in 1998. It was there, while traveling with my father in a rented Chrysler Sebring convertible, that I saw a silver Porsche 356 A coupe pull out of a driveway. It was love at first sight. The next day at Laguna Sega, we walked up to the infield fence just in time to witness a 935 come downshifting into a corner. I’ll never forget looking up at my father, who was holding two corn dogs, and seeing the ridiculous smiles that we both had on our faces. As my mother would say after that trip, the sickness took over.
My father and I came home and did our due diligence in researching what 356 to buy. We ended up buying a numbers matching Convertible D out of an ad in the back of Panorama. The only problem was that Convertible D was not numbers matching and the engine ended up having to be completely rebuilt. It was our first experience buying a classic Porsche, and one that taught us several important lessons about what was a hobby, and what eventually became a business.
I went on to graduate college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in metal sculpture and started work at Randall Yow’s International Coachworks (356 specialist) in his body shop. Ironically, I still have my Convertible D, affectionately called the Pooper. I never fixed the cosmetic issues, because I just love to drive that car the way Porsche intended.
Several years later I would meet my business partner at a local Porsche Club of America concours. We stood looking at the same 911, disagreeing on every detail. We quickly realized that two sets of eyes are better than one. Not soon afterwards, Kevin and I were partners at Road Scholars, a business that got its start building my father’s Porsche collection over eight years. We traveled the world over in pursuit of perfect Porsches.
In constructing that collection, we focused on all-original cars that Porsche built in limited production numbers. That way, we ensured that we always had perfect templates to go by when looking at other models. Between researching and inspecting countless numbers of Porsches, we started to realize that perhaps there were other people who would appreciate what we brought to the table. That is our unique skill set — extensive knowledge and experience in vintage Porsches, and a commitment to doing business with integrity.
Funny, how the events of your youth can set the path for your entire life. Growing up the youngest of my large family, I had no other choice than to be a gear head. The memories of being a kid in the 70′s, combined with no sense of fear created an explosive mix. Those movies, muscle cars, motorcycles and experiences carried me all the way through my twenties. The advice of my father put me in the car business, while the words of a wise manager influenced me as to how business should be done.
My first motorcycle at 9 years old (I think my dad was trying to kill me) was my brother’s hand me down Suzuki 90. After seeing the Steve McQueen movie –On Any Sunday, — I gave that poor thing hell. I was introduced to the feel of flying around blind corners by my cousin Laurie in her Triumph Spitfire. Five o’clock Mass was not to be missed, the New England countryside made the ride exciting and she seemed to cut each corner closer and closer. After that I started reading anything I could that related to cars, motorcycles or boats, I had the need for speed!
My first car was a 1975 Corvette convertible, bright blue with black leather and a 4 speed. Wow, did I think I was hot stuff. That 165 horsepower sure seemed like a lot at the time. I raced it, broke it, wrecked it, and most importantly learned how to fix it. After spending a few years in college at Northern Michigan University, I ended up at the University of New Mexico. Once in Albuquerque, I discovered that cars didn’t come from the factory with rust on them! I was in love; countless muscle cars were bought, rebuilt, detailed and driven before they were sold on the street corner to trade up for one bigger, better and faster.
In 1990 I moved to North Carolina, I had no Idea what I was going to do for a living until my father suggested I go sell cars! I ended up at a Porsche/Jaguar store, selling Porsches is great, but selling Jaguars will teach you the meaning customer service.
One of the early lessons I learned when I began buying Porsches for a collector is that a car is only original once! Buying some of the best original cars on the planet, I learned how Porsches were constructed new — and that they were far from perfect. I learned all the ins and outs of these thoroughly engineered machines. Nothing is an afterthought on a Porsche. The first things you learn are the texture of the paint, the grain in the leather, the fit of the panels, the nuances of the engine, and feel of the shifter. The advanced course of Porsche knowledge teaches you the proper heads on bolts, the markings on trim, and that you can’t ask too many questions. I have met the “players” of this hobby, and quickly figured out friend from foe. Who is just after a payday, and who truly loves these machines. Count me in the later!
Another critical thing I have learned in this business is how to do business. One of my first managers was focused on customer service. Through him I learned to follow through on what you promise a client.
He explained his approach very simply, “Don’t ever lie to me, don’t ever lie to a customer.” That is how I do business to this day!