Throughout high school cars occupied activity for me in both a hobby and as a “career ambition,” yet it was not until I was offered a job at my local auto parts store that I “officially” started my automotive career. In this photo I am at the customer counter of Cal Auto Parts in Granada Hills, Calif., with the store’s assistant manager, Bill Filbert. Bill was a great guy — and had been the person who had sold me parts, tools and supplies for my work on cars during the preceding year, or so, prior to this photo.

When the store needed to add another part-time counter person, Bill suggested that I apply for the job. As a 17 year-old, I was intimidated by the invitation to work with these guys whom I looked at as the experts behind the counter — and since the guys at Cal Auto Parts were all at least as “old as 23 or 24 years old,” I felt like quite the “kid”. Still, on a day when I was in the parts store to buy lower-end engine parts for my Dad’s 428 cubic-inch Ford motor, Bill suggested that he introduce me to the store manager and be considered for a job.

When the manager, automotive aftermarket guru Mike Thomas, came out to talk to me, he looked at the small boxes of auto parts that I was holding in my hands … connecting-rod and main crankshaft bearings … and said, “Well, you obviously know SOMETHING about cars!” On that day I started my first job in the automotive industry. Bill Filbert became a mentor and great friend — even though he was such an “old” guy at 27 years old! [By the way, the answer is NO, I was not trying to be Elvis with those sun glasses — but I’m sure at least I thought they looked pretty cool!]

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