Hindsight 20/20

Dec 2, 2009

The importance of gaining business stride within the automotive and motorsports industry over the past 10 years has escalated far beyond the preceding 20 years. The reason is that the overall industry has adopted the sense that a high school education, coupled with a spattering of auto shop, doesn’t get the job or business to a level of constant growth. Also, the competition is progressing with better educated personnel that are computer savvy and possess the ability to manage, market and communicate as well as grow the business.

Within the competitive spirit of the industry is the need for additional learning tools fostering a blend of education not common to former enthusiasts and industry leaders who once adopted the trial-and-error learning approach. The usual pattern of product development was simply the ability to work a lathe, discussing product needs with a few buddies, producing the product and then finding a supply chain distribution link to the end-user customer.

Personal Growth

As discussed in this education series, personal growth is an expansion of knowledge and that knowledge is power. Thus, knowing that knowledge is power enables us to continue to learn and have the valuable asset of personal knowledge to enhance our business potentials.

As we discussed, there are a variety of opportunities within the community, trade and college programs which enable learning at all levels to be useful in the growth of our businesses. It is the variety of ongoing learning and knowledge tools that furthers each of us. But, there is the likelihood that a number of factors might get in the way. One such variable is time: the frequent road block that hinders advancement, and the single most common reason one doesn’t continue their education.

Another common excuse is the ability to finance their continued education. With a number of creative and supportive financial tools available at most colleges and trade schools, the need for immediate cash is absent. There are specific finance programs at each campus. Contact the financial aid department for information pertaining to your chosen program.

With a growing number of well founded educational opportunities, anyone within the aftermarket and motorsports industry is apt to complete their goal of attaining a degree, certificate or just gain flat-out knowledge to perform their job task better. So who is the potential person who needs advanced education in either the trade and or business skills? Simple, everyone who owns, manages or is a part of the growth process of their business. It is essential that every business owner, large or small, have a firm knowledge base from which to grow their business.


As we’ve discussed within this education series, there are alternatives from which to choose. The list is long as are the alternatives. You don’t have to be held hostage in the classroom, nor be backed into the corner by traditional solutions and historical methods of instructional design. You can spring forward with a variety of distance learning programs that have specific components that will enhance your knowledge tool box.

The term “nothing can replace the effectiveness of classroom” was frequently used until quality distance learning programs were developed by college and university instructional designers. A host of automotive aftermarket and motorsports programs have been developed by Marian College, Indianapolis, Ind., the college I teach for. The Marian College School of Business, (888.963.RACE) has addressed the business of motorsports as serious, under-educated and in need of simple fix-it program for business advancement.

Coupled with the core components of business, students learn either by distance learning or in a workshop/classroom environment. As a leader in the business of motorsports, their faculty is made up of industry leaders with advanced degrees and decades of real world experience. Their new off campus eLearning/Distance Learning program is for the adult learner who is seeking a degree/non-degree program in the business of management, marketing and small business growth strategies. Marian College’s realization that both time and the ability to have an economically feasible learning program are important factors leading to ultimate business success. Short five-week programs are now available with or without companion on campus workshops.

There are well qualified campus programs available specifically for the degree path student such as Northwood University in Midland, Mich., and Northwestern University of Ohio. Specifically, both programs have an aggressive history of fulfilling the students learning needs in automotive aftermarket and motorsports advancement. The core curriculum is developed by professionally trained instructors who lead each program to identify the student and apply educational tools and create paths leading to success.

Jim John, head of the aftermarket program at Northwood University, has demonstrated the ability to lead an aftermarket student seeking a degree and career path in automotive management at the manufacturer level and automotive agency levels. As an on campus program, their new multi-million dollar facility is geared to deliver the latest in both business programs necessary for management job level positions and leading to a creative approach to automotive agency management.

The College of Technologies program at the University of Northwestern Ohio, under the direction of Tom Grothous, program Dean, encompasses the rigor of advancing college grads to key level starting positions within the industry. Specializing with qualified instructors, students learn by doing and learning via classroom instruction with the latest in technology tools of the trade.

Fostering a deep history of working with the SEMA Show intern program, each campus is within itself a starting point for leadership, management and the ability to gain ample jobs within the industry nationwide.

If a student is interested in a degree within the automotive restoration portion of the industry, McPherson College in McPherson, Kan., is a industry leader. With the stamp of approval from the likes of Vic Edelbrock, Jr. and Jay Leno, McPherson College is also supported, due to its academic prowess, by industry leading companies such as Hagerty Insurance. This academic restoration industry leader is creative in its approach with both business and restoration as core components of their college. Contact Dan Hudachek, director of automotive restoration development for more information.

With degree and certificate programs as well as distance learning opportunities, the forward thinking student has an amplified pathway to filling their knowledge tool box. If you consider what the options are, you’ll immediately see that furthering your education will provide you a promising future. Without the tools necessary to grow your personal work profile, you’ll be frequently left in the dust.


A rather impactful newer process of education is the understanding of distance or eLearning. Simply put, eLearning equals productivity. In the scope of a business’s bottom line, it is the productivity factor that scores profits. Remembering that productivity is not just a domain for bean counters, the economic advantages reach far beyond the mere dollars and cents.

Leaders who want to maximize the return on human capital, C-level decision makers and small business owner are all interested with the bottom line. Also, project managers who aim to bring short- and long-term projects under time and budget all benefit from productivity. Productivity not only contributes toward an organization’s current bottom line, but it also determines the growth and survival of the entire business. This is a mere example of how education can tie the links of knowledge to the lack of knowledge. A person’s personal productivity is ever so important in the decision making of each department within the business and is critical to the bottom line.

The key is ease of application. Each campus, trade school and accredited institution for higher learning can provide you with their specific curriculum. The specific academic rigor of each program, the qualifications, financial assistance, length of the program and where you fit are questions you’ll want answered to your complete satisfaction.

Without question, the necessity of advancing self starts where you left off. I highly recommend every automotive aftermarket and motorsports businessperson set their personal goal for a higher education, add more tools to their personal knowledge tool box. And when you think you’ve had enough continue building your knowledge tool box.

Academic questions, career paths and other education challenges are welcome by calling me personally at (317) 955-6453. Cheers ‘n gears, and yes, you can advance through education starting today!