3 min read

The American Dream is Alive Even During a Pandemic

The American Dream is Alive Even During a Pandemic

It's bowl week, but bowls are now meaningless, so this will be zero about football.

A few months ago I was driving back from the Phoenix and as I stopped in the thriving gas-station-opolis known as Gila Bend, I noticed out front bumper had a huge crack in it. We're pretty sure somebody backed into us in a parking lot, but we have no idea what happened. A lot of manufacturers don't use and adhesive agent when they paint bumpers - so thanks to the amount of rocks flying around desert freeways, it was already needing a repaint.

But now our paint job got upgraded to a full-replacement which did not make my bank account happy.

I shopped around for different shops and got a few quotes - then came across a mobile service where they would just come to your house to take care of it. I called a friend (and GEHB subscriber) who was in the service area and set the date.

A Book's Cover With No Middle Ground

When "Stevo" showed up, it was quite the sight - tattooed head to toe (including his neck and entire scalp). Baggier clothes. Formerly gaged ears. A chin piercing. The immediate heuristic is "this guy is either a meth dealer or knows his way around a car". There was no in between in what you would expect from him -

and he was 100% the latter.

A COVID Leap of Faith

Stevo had been working in the autobody industry for 20 years. He had gone around from dealership to dealership and different shops and knew a ton of people in the industry. This time 18 months ago he was managing the shop at a dealership that was having him put in 12-15 hours a day. As the pandemic kicked in, work dropped and the dealership wanted him to lay off an employee two weeks before the guy's wife was due. A friend told him about the mobile platform where you can start doing mobile work and just contract with them to fill up your calender as needed.

So Stevo went out, formed an LLC, got a work van, did a full vehicle wrap to get advertising going, set up an Instagram account and quit the dealership.

He's now booked a month out regularly, only working 4-6 hours a day to make the same money, and from word of mouth referrals is only using the Driveway platform a couple days a week (down from the full-time when he first launched).

A Family Affair

He had his son with him working - I figured at first it was just Christmas Break, but as we chatted a bit, he mentioned that his son had gotten in with the wrong crowd, so he yanked him out of school, started bringing him to work and the boy was doing night classes.

He said it was a huge blessing, because he went from a bad relationship working constantly, to getting work all day and they've really bonded. He's been teaching his trade, and he set up a personal loan with his son to get a second vehicle so once he gets his driver's license he can start picking up more jobs and expand the family business.

Conclusions (And Not Jumping To Them)

To recap, when the world and economy seemingly went to shit, our friend:

  1. Quit his job working 60+ hour weeks
  2. Started his own company
  3. Ended up hiring his son as an employee and repair their relatioship
  4. Taught his boy a valuable trade and also set him up on a loan to take over a second shop vehicle (the son has already paid dad back in full)
  5. Is only working 6 hours a day with jobs coming in left and right booking him a month out.

As the unashamed and unabashed believers in the free market that Jeff and I are - this guy is our Hellion of the Week. Maybe the month because he did such a good job and saved me close to a grand.

Stevo told me that he realized he had all the tools already, and he knew enough people he thought he could get referrals, but signing up on the platform could help jumpstart him. Then he raved about Facebook and Instagram being free advertising because people just want to see your work. So we will end with a quote from him:

"There's so much out there with the internet to get you started in any type of business it's crazy. I just had to bet on myself"

Amen brother, amen.