It’s finally here. I can’t call it by its name yet, because we’ve yet to name it. I’ve kicked around several (lame) titles for the project, but ultimately it was decided that naming things was not my strongest attribute.
It got here on life support to say least. Actually, it was put on the back of a truck and hauled through several states to the backwoods of Tennessee. It wasn’t going to make it any further than where it almost killed J Loren. (And I learned my lesson the first time HURT left me the keys to their ride, but that’s for a future post.) He was having to nurse the ambulance because of some tire issues and persistent electrical woes. However, when the cruise control stuck accelerating the vehicle and forced the musician to do his best Ricky Bobby on the interstate in an ambulance, J decided enough was enough.
When I got the phone call and heard what happened my first thought was “man this keeps happening to this guy,” and my second was “it’s not happening again if I have anything to do with it.” I’m not sure if J called just to vent or if he was asking for advice/help. It didn’t matter. The mission was clear; how do we get him a vehicle that can meet all the strenuous demands of the road on a budget that might be stretched far enough to get a
I’ve spent the last several years recruiting for the automotive industry and I’ve made some connections with the people that supply the talent for several of the automotive shows that air on various channels. I started to pitch J how we could buy him a gutted old bus and get it on one of these shows. The first words out of my mouth were “the first thing we need to do is get a budget.” Immediately J responded with “I have a budget, and I have a vehicle stuck at a dealership.”
‘My plan B’ was instantly pulled out of my ass. [I’m calling it ‘my plan B,’ because I’m not sure how many plans J had before calling me became the best option. I was about 700 miles away from him at that point.] ‘My plan B’ was to get his vehicle to a technical college located about half way between where the vehicle was and where it was going to end up. Just in case that didn’t work, I gave J ‘my plan C’ as well. [A technical college closer to me, but further away from J and the ambulance.] After we ended the conversation I began working the phones like crazy to pull everything off.
Ultimately, after a couple of weeks of phone calls and emails, I ended up going with ‘my plan D,’ none of the above. I had the vehicle towed to a shop outside of Jackson TN. Why Jackson TN you might ask? A little over a year earlier, I met two young guys from there that were doing INSANELY challenging projects. I talk to countless people in the industry every day with years of experience, and these two guys just out of high school were taking on projects that others with way more experience wouldn’t have the knowledge to handle. I quizzed them about these projects to make sure they weren’t exaggerating, and what I found were two guys that where extremely passionate and dedicated to developing their craft at the highest level. (They reminded me of a certain musician I know.) I helped get these guys into one of the best technical colleges in the country to hone their skills. They didn’t disappoint me, and I’ll feature both of them in an upcoming blog post.
After it was decided where the project was going, it was time to create a game plan. Emails of sketches and ideas were bounced back and forth based on the basic things J was asking for. We had a few pictures of the ambulance but no measurements, and no real good grasp of what the interior looked like, or what kind of work was actually needed. But a crew was assembled based on everyone’s skill sets.
In case you’re wondering, that’s my skill set. I have very limited automotive range compared to the countless mechanics I’ve helped get careers for. However, I can network with the best of them. I called seven states before I decided that starting this project just outside of Jackson TN in a small shop about two hours from my home was the best bet.
But back to the ambulance. The driver called me at 7:30 Friday morning trying to figure out how exactly he was going to get his truck with an ambulance on it down the narrowly winding backwoods road to the shop. After I gave him a little positive reinforcement, he was convinced to make the delivery at the proper destination as agreed.
An hour later I received a text message from Trevor, the shop owner that read “This thing is pretty sweet, but it does need a lot of work.”
“Perfect,” I thought while smiling. As soon as I finished my work for the day I made the drive to his place to see exactly what I’ve gotten myself into…
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