By Amanda Gubbins
Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy brought in Ryan Root as a summer intern to do renderings for the shop so that he had something tangible to show customers and to help streamline the fabrication process.
One of the benefits of belonging to a community, such as the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA), is that you have a whole network looking out for you. Not only is council membership a way to make new friends, but it also serves a business well—especially when it comes time to hire new talent. This was absolutely the case for Ryan Root, who was able to deliver his portfolio to HRIA through connections in the industry. Council Chairman John McLeod, who was impressed with Root’s designs, passed the portfolio to Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy. Trepanier provided Root with an internship, one that was the result of council networking and communication.
Root recently finished his junior year of college at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where he is studying automotive design. The love of cars was instilled in him at a young age by his father, who painted sprint cars and midgets. When it came time for Root to look for an internship, he networked his way into a summer job at Rad Rides by Troy that would allow him to contribute his design skills and learn more about the fabrication side of the business. While Root’s portfolio impressed everyone who saw it, the HRIA community helped him land a position perfect for his skills and interests.
“I really want to learn a lot, not only about the design process, but the whole process of building hot rods. I’ve got a small skillset in fabrication and a larger skillset in custom paint because that’s what I started out with. But I would like to learn the whole process from start to finish,” said Root.
Troy Trepanier is a huge proponent of youth engagement in the automotive sphere. From his perspective, one of the main benefits of hosting an intern is a chance to harness the energy and ideas of the next generation. He remembers being mentored by industry veterans, such as Boyd, Baskerville, Posie and others, and he hopes that he can also provide opportunities for future hot rodders.
“I’ll tell you, you get some of the young guys with a little bit of ability and the passion, and you plug into them what our theme or style is and, man, it can really create some special guys,” Trepanier said.
An important part of his internship philosophy is providing the right environment for learning—finding someone with skills the company needs and then finding productive projects for them to work on. Trepanier needed someone to do renderings for the shop so that he had something tangible to show customers and to help streamline the fabrication process. Trepanier also hopes to teach Root some new skills. Because of Root’s background, there are many possibilities.
“In a shop like mine, we have 12 guys. I could have him sit there and draw all day; it would take us 100 years to build everything he drew,” Trepanier explained. “So I need him to be able to do the drawings when we need them, but obviously come down in the shop, whether it’s painting or pinstriping, light fabrication or bouncing ideas off and being a little more useful that way. And I think that’s maybe where we’ll instill some of what we know on some light fabrication, welding and just how we do things in general.”
Trepanier also has a few other projects in mind for the summer, focused on building the business’ brand. Whatever this summer holds, the future is bright for Root. He has big goals for himself, too.
“After college, it’s always been my dream to design hot rods for a living. So if I could get a job at a hot-rod fabrication shop to design hot rods, that would be a good step for me. But I also have a twin brother who is also an automotive designer and he went to the same school that I did, and actually right now he’s interning at Hot Wheels in Los Angeles. So eventually, maybe I would like to do something with him and open up our own shop,” he said.
HRIA hopes to have a hand in many more stories like this one. That’s what the Futures in Hot Rodding initiative is about—recognizing talent and connecting newcomers to opportunities. To learn more about the resources that are available, visit www.sema.org/futures.