Arron Stump owns 316 Motor Works, Official GBXM Partner.
Hello, my name is Arron Stump. I own 316 Motor Works in Flagstaff, AZ, and I love every part of it.
I’m here to introduce you to the steps of automotive entrepreneurship, or the process in which a simple dream or idea over coffee and beer is manipulated and shaped into a reality.
Over the years I have learned the little things that will consume you with doubt and break your confidence can always be tamed with every victory or success along the way. However, you can never get complacent because, before you know it, you will be tackling obstacles that you never would have imagined in the dreaming stage.
Setting Up for Success
Being a fourth generation mechanic by trade and the first in my lineage to explore an entire new facet of knowledge, technology, and global networking with the brilliant minds of the industry, it is easy to think that every “car enthusiast” knows what you know.
This is far from the truth. A likely unfortunate side effect of our culture’s devaluing of practical skills in favor of the all-important college education.
A college degree is without a doubt a useful thing to have, but my opinion, if you are to truly be as immersed in the car world as I’ve been fortunate enough to be, you must have the kind of mind that can be both analytical and constructively creative. You should see the dynamic construction of every part integrated in a vehicle and understand not only why it was designed that way, but also know what its purpose is for long term use, performance per application, and the economical sustainability for the manufacturer.
The ability to look beyond just the part in your hand and see a tried and true piece of engineering is, in my experience, an invaluable skill and is something I look for in all of those who work for me. This type of mental imagery is the number one tool allowing you to bridge the gap between enthusiast and professional.
The Cost of Building Success
The idea of building cars for competition, taking care of them for continued use, and being able to enjoy a pint at the end of the week tends to be pipe dream. However, it’s achievable if you keep an open mind to your creative nature and diversify your skills.
People are always shocked when I tell them exactly what goes into building a competitive race car. It is much more than big turbos and gravel tires. Don’t be surprised when what you think will take 1,200 hours of labor suddenly starts to look more like 3,000 hours. Or when you are sitting on a $100,000 order of parts that haven’t been paid for yet, but you still need to come up with more money to pay your Snap-On bill so you can finish the job and pay your guys.
Did I mention you get to front all the costs? In this industry, you don’t get paid until the job is done. And while this is the case in most industries, it can surely be daunting ordering a $20,000 Drenth gearbox that won’t arrive for 12 weeks, $14,000 Reiger coilovers from The Netherlands that are backordered by 6 weeks, your $4,000 turbos are 5 weeks out from Owen Developments, and a $6,000 MoTeC, all while hoping you’ll get paid in the end.
The point of this sequential based rant is diversity.
The best advice I can give is simple: Build a reputation from knowledge that is generally unobtainable by the forums and weekend tinkerers.
Change some flippin’ oil and do some tune-ups to pay the bills between the quarter-million dollar builds. Collect cash and flip some Outbacks with NPR stickers. Don’t be afraid to build some things and take some major losses. The shop doesn’t have to be all race cars all the time. Don’t ever turn down those small jobs that keep the lights on.
Remember, that profit is profit, no matter how small. Trust me, if you do this right, you will never have to explain yourself. It takes an unwavering sense of dedication, commitment, and purpose to gain the respect of our heroes and to shake hands with the best.
It is no easy task and I wouldn’t say the hardest part is over, but when the guys you looked up to as a kid follow you on Instagram, it reminds you what you’re doing all of this for.
I still have a long way to go with myself and 316 Motor Works, but I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life, and I would love it if you joined me on this crazy journey in my car world.
Arron Stump is the owner of 316 Motor Works in Flagstaff, Az., and a rally car building enthusiast. For Arron Stump and the team at 316 Motor Works, Rally is Life. Find them on on Twitter @316_MW, Facebook at 316 Motor Works, and on Instagram.