Hello, I'm Tony, I'm currently serving in the army. My future goal is to make the Model T's into a career. I'm searching for details on marketing, parts/supplier's. I'm looking to open my own shop in Indiana but would like to be known nation wide as a dealer/restoration. I appreciate any and all advice I can get that would help me start, my own shop. Thank you all.
Without sounding too grumpy, about the only advice I could give you would be to be absolutely certain that any reproduction parts you sell actually fit and work as intended! Generally, in all spheres of repop parts [all types of vehicles], so much of the stuff we shell out money for is absolute crap!! Some big name players too....'vintique' brand for a starter - utter rubbish!
I know one sure way to make a small fortune in the Model T business. If you promise to keep it a secret, I will tell you!
Start with a LARGE fortune!
Wish I could give you better advice than that. I did run a restoration shop for some 25 years. It was a living, but got to be too messy here in California. Bureau of Automotive Repair, Air Quality Board, etc. etc. It just made life (and a profit) too difficult! Maybe Indiana is saner.
Tony, thank you for you service in defense of liberty. There is plenty of room for people who can service and repair vintage cars and model T's in particular. I am buried with work on old cars that no one else can or wants to handle. If you want to do this for a living, be prepared to work on different kinds of cars, not just model T's. Model A's will be in need of your care, too, as well as other makes. You will learn there is good money in those cars, as those who drive them tend to spend more freely. I love model T's and all who drive them, but the fact is that people drive them now for the same reason they did when they were new. That is, they are cheaper than anything else available. A major exception to this are the guys who restore the earliest T's in the brass era. There is big money with those cars and parts. What I am saying is, If you build a name as someone who can help with antique cars, you will have plenty of work and will not need to advertise. Attend tours and swap meets, and assist those who need help. Learn everything you can, read whatever you can about old cars. Get known as someone who can make an antique car run. There are many well established T and A parts vendors, so to compete with them would require serious start up money. There is plenty of work for someone who can repair and service special interest cars. Most who own them cannot handle anything but minor service. I hope you can make this happen for yourself.
Anthony: If you decide to stay in Colorado Springs to open your shop you would have one of the best T mechanics in the U.S, Steve Coniff to help guide you. If you move to Denver Ron Jackson has a restoration shop and would be glad to help guide you. Also there are other good T mechanics in Colorado that have shops and work on other's Ts, such as Jim Lightfoot, Dill Weishaupl and Gene French that will be glad to help you get started. You will find out that as soon as people find that you will work on their Ts you will have more work lined up than you want to handle. I knew one shop in Colorado that the owner had two mechanics employed and still had all the work they could do. Customers will even be coming in from surrounding states. I would recommend that if you do stay in Colorado and set up you shop that you do join the Denver T club to get your word around. By the way I know where you can get a free time card machine that you can keep track of the time it takes you to work on some ones T. That way you will be fair to both yourself and the customers.
Good luck the hobby needs more guys like you to help people new to the hobby. Again you will be plenty busy.
"Maybe Indiana is saner."
David, from what I read here and elsewhere, I think the number of states saner than California is 49....
Bottom Line Up Front: Research it and other options, and go for the option that is best for you or if you have a family the option that is best for you and your family.
Thank you for your service to our country. And thank you for wanting to support the old car hobby. Yes, someone can make a business and/or living as they help others restore and maintain their cars. Depending on your background you may already have a lot of experience. Perhaps you grew up in a family that restored cars. Or perhaps you were a mechanic on aircraft or vehicles in the Army. Or perhaps you’re a computer tech guy without any prior mechanical background but you have always dreamed about working on cars. As one person said, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Actually it doesn’t always work that way – there is still a lot of hard work in any profession. But if you do well at what you do and love what you do, it is a “win-win” situation.
You might want to give folks a little more information about your background and they may be able to give you more tailored advice. For example if you are single and only need to take care of yourself you have a lot more flexibility than married with a wife, three kids etc. And if you have kids in college – unless you have done some good financial planning – there is a good chance you will need to find a paying job rather than starting a business so you can keep things afloat until the kids graduate etc.
You may want to consider using your G.I. Bill educational benefits to go to one of the several colleges that offer Automobile Restoration or a similar sounding program/degree. It can hone your skills and it gives you some great contacts that can open many doors for you. If you Google “classic car restoration school” or “automotive restoration school” you will find there are several scattered around the USA.
Hagerty Insurance helps work with colleges and sponsors internships see:
McPherson College – Automotive Restoration Program is one of the longest running programs that I am aware of. See the article in Hemmings Motor News at: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2014/07/15/mcpherson-college-overhauls-its-fo ur-year-automotive-restoration-program/ One of my own dreams is to attend some of their summer courses. See: http://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/ .
Vintage vehicle restoration Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport, PA
Depending on how much longer you have in the Army and what your Army Post offers you may want to take some courses they offer. At my Air Force base when I was still on active duty, they offered a wide variety of programs to help military members transition to the civilian life. One of the courses they offered back in 1996 or so was “How to start a small business.” It was taught by a representative from the US Government Small Business Association ( https://www.sba.gov/ ). They had a lot of good information about the nuts and bolts of what was required. And even if you are the world’s best craftsman – if you run your business poorly it will not succeed. I have a friend that was great at making cabinets and other items out of wood. But when he went into business for himself he discovered that there was a lot more to it than just being good with his wood working. In his case he went back to work for someone else because that was a better fit for him. And in my case – after attending the course in 1996 or so, I found out that I could expect some really long hours the first 4 or 5 years. And back then the teacher shared that the failure rate was 50% failure rate in the first year and 95% within five years. The statistics have improved since then (see below) but I decided I could not risk it at that time. I had two daughters who would be starting college in a few years and it just didn’t make sense for me to take that risk at that time.
The current reported failure rates for a new small business vary depending on who reports them and when. See the Small Business Association at: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/Business-Survival.pdf in that article they share that for businesses with at least 2 employees approximately 1/3 fail within the first 2 years and 50 percent within the first 5 years. And their Frequently asked question page is a great help at: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_March_2014_0.pdf The article at Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericwagner/2013/09/12/five-reasons-8-out-of-10-busin esses-fail/#7dfeae945e3c has the failure rate for new entrepreneur startups at 80%.
Something that has worked well for some folks is to join the guard or reserves. It is a good fit for some and for others is not anything they would want. The biggest benefit is currently you would eventually become eligible for a military retirement. They keep changing the when and how much etc. it may be. But someday you will probably want to retire. Or if want to keep working forever – someday most of us eventually reach the point where we have to retire. Either way, it is nice to have that additional income. And yes, if you are wise with your business, investments, and spending – you will not need any additional money. But a little extra is nicer than a little less than you need.
So as you close the chapter on one part of your life and prepare to start writing the next chapter, we wish you the best. And we encourage you to find a good fit that blesses you and makes you a blessing to others.
Hap l9l5 cut off
You would benefit from working on your own Model T and restoring it to provide an example to future customers of what you can do. This is a business that you will not get rich on, but you can make a comfortable living if you get a reputation for honesty and good quality. Those things are not easily earned.
Dick Lodge; I was not talking about California, I was talking about Colorado, if he decided to stay.
Dick, the last few years in Kansas say it can't be over 48.
I think Dick was responding to my posting.
I'm third generation self-employed. Right now my Sister is the only one "working for a living"--she's a school teacher. I did spend 15 years working for someone (City of Oroville). Best money I ever made, worst mental time I ever had; I think I still have post traumatic stress syndrome from it.My co-worker was smart, he left and found an organization that really likes him and has been there about 15 years now. He will have a good retirement, something most of us self-employed people don't have.
And there's the rub. Being self-employed, you can work half days if you like, and you can even chose which 12 hours of the day that will be. But you are the one who creates the work environment around you, and that control is oftentimes immeasurable in value. Be prepared for paperwork!! I swear the government folks think you have all the time in the world to fill it out! (Hmm, that's a funny thing, when I worked for the city, they wanted all the museum attendance and income to match and be recorded--once a week (when I first got there it was once a month and only had to be "close"); but they complained that I spent too much time doing that! After they got rid of me, they decided that doing all that accounting was too much work, and dropped the whole thing, no more numbered tickets and stubs. If I'd lost one ticket, I was in "hot water." Now, nada.)
Also be prepared to invest in a lot of machinery and tooling; Erik's shop has some amazing stuff and he has acquired some very specialized knowledge--besides having some space to do all this work! He's also younger than I am, as are you; I find I cannot do an 8 hour day like I used to, arthritis and other pains get in the way. So do plan on a retirement time! Your body will demand it someday! Save money for the future!! Save LOTS of it, in fact. I was told this years ago, but did I listen?? Well, yes, but did I act? Sorta, but then I invested in Citicorp. Oh well. . . (Never trust a "sure thing!")
OH, and yes, thank you for serving; we all owe you a debt of gratitude.
David, you are correct. I was responding to your posting. That's why I said "David" instead of "Dave."
I'm good with that, just don't call me late to a meal!!!
Or Pie. . .
Oh, and Dick, I think you are probably right about Callifunny. Although from another thread here, it sounds like Indiana is trying to out-do us on car registration procedures.
Id really like to shake everyone's hand for the great information. Model T's are my passion and hopefully my children's future passion. The forum yall have here is amazing and has a lifetime of knowledge. I would like to thank every one of you for keeping the T's culture alive and id fight any battle to keep it going.
Hap Tucker beat me to it. I highly recommend going to McPherson College for a degree in Automotive Restoration. That's what I did after I finished my tour of duty with the Marines. If you need any advice or want any information about the program, contact myself or Chris Paulsen. He's a member of the forum and also a professor at McPherson. He's also the guy you've probably seen in Steve Jelf's pictures from his long drive thread, driving the blue Fronty race car.
I wouldn't bother trying to sell T parts. There are enough of them already. If you need more information on start ups, contact Larry Blair in Santa Fe Springs, California. He has been at it only about twenty years, and could give you some sound advice. His shop is called the Tin Shed. Thank you for your service. I admire anyone who has the balls to serve in the military.