What Price Did You Pay? (Issue 1017)

In which we are reminded that any business owner or leader chooses a path for a reason and pays a price for the journey; the “juicy bits” are in the story behind the story.

The Audrain Automobile Museum sits at the head of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. From the museum’s YouTube channel: “More of an Art Museum than a Car Museum, we celebrate the Machine Age, when art and automobiles came together…”

The current exhibit features “Hot Rods of New England – 1945 to 1965”. Never one to turn my head from good-looking sheet metal, I slipped in for a couple of hours over the Labor Day weekend. I was immediately attracted to George Choma’s ’32 Ford Coupe “Deuce of Hearts”. The Roman Red paint job is an eye popper and the chrome… LOTS of chrome.

As I stood there, I imagined (you know, as one does at such times) a conversation with George about his car.

“George, this is BEAUTIFUL. Tell me about your car. What’s the story with your car?”

And, I imagined, he answered, “Well, it’s modified 1932 Ford. I put in a 345 cubic inch Oldsmobile V8 that generates 315 horsepower and runs through a 1937 LaSalle transmission. I put in an Iskenderian E-4 Camshaft, 1958 Oldsmobile ported & polished heads, an Edelbrock staggered four carburetor manifold, and a Scintilla vertex magneto. I pushed the engine 12” back in the engine bay and dropped the front axle 2 ½ inches.”

That was a lot to absorb and I’m neither engineer nor vintage hot rodder. So, I asked, “What was significant about choosing those particular modifications for the car?”

George shared what he set out to do with the car and the performance enhancements each component provided including an interesting story about Ed Iskendarian, the camshaft guy.

Just fascinating for a non-engineer to hear a deeply knowledgeable nuts-and-bolts guy talk about his efforts to build for speed and for show. And then, in my imagined conversation, feeling a bit more courageous, I asked, “George, what did it cost you to build this car?”

“You mean in dollars?”, he asked. He looked incredulous.

“No, no, no. Not in dollars. What did you give up as you built this ? What did it cost you?”

He looked a bit startled and then looked away for a moment. Ah, hit a nerve.

“OK,” I said, “let me ask it a different way. What was really important to you about building the car and the way you built the car?”

He looked back to me and smiled. “Well,” he said. “Funny you should ask….”

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at https://clarityadvantage.com/knowledge-center/ .

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