By Amanda Gubbins
YEN Power Tour Participants Share Their Career Stories
YEN members Jared Chavez, Josh Backes, Matthew Davis, Keith McWilliams, Tyler Wesely, Troy Spackman, Cathy Clark and Tim Brueggemann (from left) rode along on the Power Tour.
Eight Young Executives Network (YEN) members rode along on the YEN Power Tour in June, a journey of more than 1,500 miles from Madison, Wisconsin, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In addition to visiting each of the seven stops scheduled for the Hot Rod Power Tour, the YEN program added a twist of its own: Josh Backes, Tim Brueggeman, Jared Chavez, Cathy Clark, Matthew Davis, Keith McWilliams, Troy Spackman and Tyler Wesely each became advocates for the network and the industry, highlighting the variety of career choices available in the automotive specialty-equipment market. By the end of the week, the participants had become good friends.
“I didn’t know anyone else who was going to be on the tour,” reflected Clark, an account executive at Bob Cook Sales. “What if we didn’t get along? What if we had nothing in common? I’m about to spend seven days in a car with a complete stranger. What are we going to talk about? Those were all fears that I’m sure most of the participants shared, and then some. Boy, was I surprised when I arrived in Wisconsin and got to know the other members of the YEN Power Tour. Not only were they open and knowledgeable, but they made me feel comfortable and welcome as well.”
Other participants echoed Clark’s analysis. In fact, the relational aspect of the journey was one of the most valuable parts—and not only for the YEN participants but with all of the other long haulers (those who completed the entire Hot Rod Power Tour). Brueggeman, who owns B-Line Auto Co. in Nebraska, made some great business connections even before the tour started. He arrived in Wisconsin early and visited Ringbrothers.
The YEN group visited several schools along the tour route to share their career insights with the students. Here, the group speaks to students at Lawson Community College in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I got to talking to a guy from Iowa about cars and came to find out that he is having a ’68 Mustang built by Ringbrothers,” Brueggeman said. “As he was showing me the renderings of his car, I asked who drew and designed it, and it was him! I have been talking to him since the YEN Power Tour, and he is in the process of rendering our ’71 ’Cuda build. Just that one little experience made the whole trip worth it, and the Power Tour hadn’t even started.”
As they traveled, the YEN members also interacted with enthusiasts who visited the stops. Not only did they share their career stories, but they also interviewed the consumers to gain their perspectives.
“My experience on the YEN Power Tour reminded me that our industry isn’t just about the high-dollar collector cars but also about the guy or girl who poured his or her heart and soul into a budget build,” said McWilliams, a product engineer at COMP Performance Group. “There is something about this industry that brings the kid out in all of us, and I am lucky enough to play an integral part in it.”
The Tuscaloosa Center for Technology was another stop for the YEN group.
The YEN participants were also able to share their enthusiasm for their work at four school visits along the route. Students in automotive programs at Ranken Technical College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Lawson State Community College and the Tuscaloosa Center for Technology learned about the multitude of career paths in the automotive realm.
“After visiting the few select schools along the route, I felt it very encouraging knowing that there are a large number of young students excited about entering the automotive industry workforce,” said Wesely, a web-content specialist at Speedway Motors Inc.
“I also thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the students present at our school stops, because I saw myself within many of these individuals,” shared Backes, who is a sales representative at 3pConnect USA.
The eight YEN members chronicled their experiences across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for those following along at home, using the hashtag #YENPowerTour. Besides being an opportunity to promote the industry, this weeklong program was an unforgettable experience.
Chavez, a MagnaFlow account manager, summed it up nicely when he said, “For me, being able to see the amazing celebration of expression through the vehicles was incredible. Whether it was an LS-swapped Datsun, ’80s custom van or a freshly restored AMX, there is something to capture the attention of any car enthusiast. Having some form of driving experience at each stop, either drag racing or autocrossing, further made this event stand out as a ‘driving enthusiast’ show. My only hope is that I can figure out a new way to experience the tour in the future and see it attract a broader audience as the younger generation becomes more involved."
Welcome New YEN Members (May 1–June 30, 2015)
|Randy Anaya, Daily Driven Motoring||Ryan Balicki, Motovicity Distribution|
|Sarah Bantay, TurbosmartUSA/3P Connect||Aleksandr Basalilov, Parts Detect|
|Blake Beaupain, Olio Electronics Corp.||Patrick Bousquet, NetCom/Partsmotive|
|Michael Brandt, Garage Bound Custom Weld and Fab||Richard Cha, Green Payment Solutions|
|Josh Cooper, Skyjacker Suspensions||Ryan Daniels, Reaction Time Marketing|
|Jeremy Davis, Holly Oak Enterprises LLC||Catherine Davis, Classic Motorsports|
|John Davis, Classic Motorsports||Zachary Fletcher, Fletcher’s Truck Caps|
|Tyler French, Spirited Apex||Olivier Gaston, NetCom/Partsmotive|
|Jacklyn Harris, Roush Yates Performance Products||Jeremy Headlee, ICON Vehicle Dynamics LLC|
|Raul Herrera, San Fernando Valley Subies||Jason Hord, Turn 14 Distribution Inc.|
|Jason Kencevski, Procomp Electronics Inc.||Darius Landrum, United Parcel Service|
|Reid Lunde, Kaizenspeed LLC||Matthew Marraffa, Air Flow Research|
|Brandon Masidonski, Smokey’s Dyno & Performance||Chase McArdle, Spirited Apex|
|Keith McKay, Big Ass Fans||Ben Mertlich, RallySport Direct|
|Jeffrey Miller, J.W. Childs Associates||Elliot Milmeister, Eckler Industries Inc.|
|Carrie Minshew, Accessory Solutions||Christian Munoz, Comtires Corp.|
|Liz Nuckols, Basys Processing||Adrian Orszulak, Olio Electronics Corp.|
|Matt Polena, Fidanza Performance||Pascal Richard, NetCom/Partsmotive|
|Clay Rosette, Federal-Mogul Corp.||Stacia Smith, Merrick Machine Co.|
|Andrew Stucky, Olio Electronics Corp.||Ryan Truax, Advanced Fuel Dynamics|
|Jon Walker, Overnight Parts From Japan||Joseph Williams, US Auto Guys Inc.|
Total YEN Members: 1,342