By Ashley Reyes
Colby McLaughlin is this week’s SEMA Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) Volunteer Spotlight member.
McLaughlin is a PRO select committee member and president of Trim Illusion Inc. Check out his video to learn more about his experience volunteering for SEMA and what inspires him about the automotive restyling industry.
SEMA: What inspired you to pursue a career in restyling/manufacturing?
Colby McLaughlin: My passion for cars started when I was younger. Going to Woodward and the Dream Cruise in Detroit, I loved how every car was unique. Despite being a hobby for my dad, my parents wanted me to pursue higher goals for my career. I wanted to prove that just because my desire to be in restyling didn't mean that I was going to be stuck in a path with no potential for growth. There are so many opportunities in our segment. Whether you want to be a photographer, journalist, executive or technician, the demand is high.
SEMA: Why did you decide to volunteer for PRO? How has it or will it impact you?
CM: PRO is full of incredibly driven and intelligent people. They’re the front line pushing to better our industry. I wanted to not just network with similar manufacturers, but also our customer base that volunteer. It has not only increased our sales but also strengthened relationships that wouldn’t happen during office hours.
SEMA: What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in the automotive aftermarket?
CM: Keep your mind open to the opportunities. This industry is evolving exponentially. Finding a mentor early can be difficult, but will come naturally if you’re with the right company. Having mentors in my life has helped me tremendously; it’s helped me grow both as a person and in business.
My personal passions are cars and business, so I am constantly reading about both.
SEMA: What is your dream vehicle?
CM: My dream vehicle would be a ‘67 Camaro. You would find me cruising on a beach.
SEMA: What is the best advice you have ever received?
CM: My first mentor, in the inside of the first book he sent me, wrote on front page, “In order to be a great manager, you must first be a great leader.” As simple as it sounds, it shaped my mindset to be in the front leading, rather than sitting back and managing.
SEMA: What keeps you in the industry?
CM: Being around like-minded people with an unending passion for our industry.
SEMA: On a Saturday, where can you be found?
CM: You can find me playing Uno by the pool with my amazing wife.