Rob asked me a simple question for my first blog post for The Muscle Car Place…”Who is Chris Holstrom?” Wow, Thanks Rob, how do you answer that one! There are several Chris Holstroms I suppose, not in weird schizophrenic I hear voices inside my head, but like most of you in the industry/hobby I wear many hats. There’s the Chris who has been happily married to his best friend Alyssa for over 10 years, father of an amazing 2 year old boy, worshipper of Jesus and fortunately a friend to many great people. There is the Chris who grew up in the car scene in the rainy Pacific Northwest. He’s also a guy who has owned over a hundred cool cars, but can count only a hand-full of the ones that ever turned a profit. He has a heart for orphaned cars and can burn up hours on a road-trip dreaming about what he could do with that old car he spotted sitting in a field at the last rest-stop.
I assume the Chris Holstrom you want to hear about it is the guy who is seemingly unknown in the hot rod community but is making a living at his passion. I was told more than once, “the best way to ruin a hobby is to make it a living.” Really, so I am supposed to spend 40+ hours doing something I don’t enjoy so I can muster up the energy to have a fun hobby? I don’t buy that. For me it all started with a dream in 2007 to build cool cars and actually get paid for it. The plan was simple, throw a bunch of time and money at a Pro-touring 68 Camaro I was building, get it in front of the right people, and everybody would be beating down my door wanting a car built, right? Well sort of. After investing a year of my life and $40,000 on credit, the car was a week away from being debuted at SEMA. Do you remember what happened a week before SEMA 2008? Stock markets crashed around the world, and it seemed like overnight I had lost $100,000 equity in my house. The housing bubble had burst! But that didn’t stop me, after an all-night thrash to get the car done, I was off to Vegas. The kind folks at the Convention Center placed my car right in front of the main door for SEMA 2008! This was truly a high point in my life.
I brought the car home and put it on Ebay a few months later to finance the shop. Having a high-dollar car selling on an online auction is a rush unto it’s self. I had three bidders going. One from across a very large pond in Dubai, a local kid with a tricked out V8 M3 and some guy in Nebraska who wanted to part trade me another car. Well I went with the guy in Nebraska who just happens to have one of the most amazing muscle car collections in the United States. This turned out to be the right choice. He is now my main customer and all-around great guy.
So I sold the car and walked away with $20,000 to start a business, but again things did not turn out as planned. It seemed my home was in need of a septic system and roof. The business would have to wait. One of the greatest traits of an entrepreneur is perseverance. I was without a cool car and money, but I still had a dream and a supportive wife. Before this starts sounding like a bad country song, I will tell you there was light at the end of the tunnel. My new best friend from Nebraska just commissioned me to do my first 6 figure build. I kept my day job, moved the shop into a small 2.5 car garage and begin Chris Holstrom Concepts. I continued to make connections in the automotive community and sacrificed a lot of hours away from family, knowing it was only temporary. I am thankful for those humble times working in that shop. Those are the moments where character is forged. Picture this; You’ve worked all day at your job, it’s cold, dark and raining outside, there is a nice fire in the fireplace and the rest of the world gets to relax and stare at the TV, but you, your different. You have a dream that will cost you if you want to chase it. You have to go drive to a cold shop and get motivated to build your next creation. Ask yourself, “How bad do I want it?”
After a few years of burning the candle late into many nights, our moment finally came. April 1, 2011 we moved into a beautiful facility and I walked away from a steady paycheck. Today we celebrate 6 months of full-time hot rod building and repair, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took careful study of small business management and getting the right advice from the right people. At the top of the list would be Dan Miller from 48days.net. He is the author of “No More Mondays”. If you desire to have your own gig, get on Amazon and order it now. Dan taught me how to create a transition plan from a full-time job to a full-time business without a bunch of money. If you have any questions or want to learn from my mistakes, um I mean “education” feel free to email me, Chris@Hotrod-repair.com.
“Success is not a destination it is the journey.” Frosty Westering