Kendall Performance & Repair, Kendall Riecken
Kendall: Pretty good. It’s been nice not to be working two jobs. Working fewer hours and making at least twice, three, or four times the amount of money. [laughs] I have a ton of flexibility, enjoy what I do, and it’s good.
Tell me about Kendall Performance & Repair.
Kendall: We offer everything from detailing to collision repair. Currently, I have three full restoration projects going, where I’m tearing down old cars and completely redoing them; body, paint, rebuilding engines, and interior. With the restoration, I can take care of pretty much anything and everything. I also have an interior guy that’s going to be doing my interiors for me, as far as custom upholstery.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got where you are.
Kendall: Well, it’s pretty much been a lifetime in the making for me. I’ve been around the car scene all my life, going to car shows, going to races, going to the drag strip, going anywhere and everywhere car-related. When I graduated high school, I went to a trade school in Cleveland. After two and a half years, I moved back and went to Ivy Tech, where I received my Associate’s Degree in Business Administration.
All the while, I was working a full-time job doing mostly collision and restoration work for other shops. I just kept working and working. Then I won a grant from Ivy Tech and started building my shop.
From old-model car maintenance to resurrecting the classics, they do it all and keep busy doing it. Through this crazy schedule, Riecken was kind enough to connect with SCORE and discuss the value of the organization’s involvement in local entrepreneurship events, the long road of opening his shop, and why his SCORE mentor’s advice helped him navigate it all.
What was it like starting the business from scratch? What kind of struggles did you face, and what were some of the victories?
Kendall: Well, no matter what you’re doing, it’s money and time. I would come home from my day job at four or five o’clock, then we’d come out here and run electrical wire. We did that for a month straight last winter. It was like that every single night, in the cold. We would work until nine, ten, sometimes eleven o’clock at night. Then I’d get up the next day, leave for work at about 6:00, or 6:30 in the morning, and then do it all over again. On the weekends, we would work 12 or 14 hours, both days. The physical demand was probably the biggest struggle.
And money’s always tight no matter what you’re doing.
How did you find out about SCORE?
Kendall: I got an email from somebody at Ivy Tech. They gave me a quick synopsis of SCORE and told me that they would be available to mentor me through the competition. That started it. I got a call from [SCORE mentor] Billy Mitchell, who said, “I want to help you win this thing, and I’ll do everything I can to help you.” It was like, “Okay. I guess I better get my butt moving.” [laughs] After I hung up the phone, I felt like I had smoke coming out of my ears from all the info and knowledge he had. It was pretty tremendous.
It was a big motivation to have somebody on board. When you’re by yourself, if you fail, you’re the only person it affects. But when you have all the help in the world, if you fail, you’re letting down a lot more people.
How was he able to help you, and what are some things that you’ve put into practice?
Kendall: My mentor helped me with developing and growing the business plan. He helped me fine-tune the plan and make it realistic. He also helped me understand the numbers behind things.
He also helped me understand a lot of the technical side of the business, cash-flow statements probably being the most significant single piece. My mentor was able to help me fine-tune it all from the very beginning.
He is accessible. I call him, and he calls me every once in a while. We check on each other more or less. I actually did one of his cars for him.
What advice would you give a new entrepreneur?
Kendall: First off, start saving. Start saving every penny and every nickel. If you find a quarter sitting on a curb at the car wash, grab it.
The other thing is realistic expectations with time. I expected to have this shop done in half the amount of time. But as things progress, you have to do other things that you didn’t initially intend, and there are unforeseen costs. But patience is a virtue.
What would tell them if they were asking about SCORE?
Kendall: If anybody can get involved with SCORE in any circumstances, take advantage of every possible opportunity they offer.
Follow your dreams by working hard and learning about business.
Kendall Riecken is an excellent example of what happens when a passionate entrepreneur teams with SCORE and realizes their small business dream. Obsessed with the automotive industry since childhood, Riecken knew his career path from a very young age. After years of working in auto shops around the area, a trade school education, and earning a degree in Business Administration from Fort Wayne’s Ivy Tech, it was time to open his own auto customization and restoration shop. SCORE helped Kendall with his startup and guidance on improving his business.