Keep the Passion Alive


Hilary Nowak and her team at Ink & Iron exemplify that combination of passion and business savvy that lead to great success.
(Photo: Huw Evans)

Passion and Interest often tend to be fundamental foundations to true success.

Be passionate about what you do. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this phrase at business workshops or keynote addresses or even at businesses or colleges and technical schools that run automotive programs. The question is, how many of us really have a passion in what we do?

I’ve said this before, but I think a good number of us were drawn into the automotive business and the collision profession because we liked cars and wanted to fix them, as well as a desire to help others.

As our professional lives unfold however and we have to deal with the realities of business, sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of why we got involved with this industry in the first place. Somebody once told me about “transition,” i.e. making that move from car enthusiast to professional automotive industry person.

And that transition can sometimes impact that passion and also our personal drive.

But I don’t think that has to be the case. This past weekend, I, along with a few friends attended the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Mich. For somebody that’s really into cars, especially classic cars, it’s like visiting automotive utopia for a whole day. Attracting more than a million people and over 30,000 special interest vehicles from across North America, it is an event like no other.

Along a 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue, once a notorious hotbed for street racing in the Detroit Area, it features car shows at nearly every intersection on either side of the street and thousands of bystanders and cruisers just soaking up one of North America’s most recognized traditions.

It’s hard to describe if you’ve never been but it just shows how a passion for cars can really bring people together and create something that’s truly memorable (the Dream Cruise has been going for 21 years now).

I think that in many cases, we’re lucky in that we work in an industry, which although very challenging at times, has the ability to ignite a distinct passion. I certainly feel there’s still a tremendous amount of satisfaction when a vehicle is repaired and a customer is happy. I also think that no matter how busy our day jobs may get, using some of the spare time we have to perfect our craft on our own projects or restore a customer’s special pride and joy can be very satisfying and help keep that flame of passion and interest burning bright.

When Hilary Nowak opened her own body shop, Ink & Iron in Brampton, Ont. earlier this year, I was very interested to talk to her about some of the reasons she chose to do it. And I think, she’s really onto something, not only by creating the first all-female staffed body shop in Canada but also because the concept utilizes a love and passion for classic cars, customs and hot rods to further business opportunities and provide a platform for the next generation of talent in our industry.

Many of her staff have other jobs besides working at Ink & Iron, but the skills they’re likely to learn at the shop and the people they will come in contact with are likely to pay off big in the long term.

Car people are a unique breed. We’re united by our passion for the automobile and it is that passion that often leads to tremendous success in all facets of our lives, including business. Real excitement and enthusiasm is contagious—it helps build things and foster change for the better. So even when times are tough I think it’s important to remember that and what can result from it.

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