As a student in an automotive, collision or diesel class, you’re probably thinking about how you can apply your skills in the real world. There are a lot of different jobs out there in automotive, but how does one get there?
Tomorrow’s Technician talked to four people working in very different areas of automotive—two starting out as technicians and two business owners—to give you a look into what it took to get there and how you can, too. In our third story, meet Ben Giuliano, co-owner of Triworks Hot Rods, a custom hot rod installer and builder.
Job: Co-owner of Triworks Hot Rods
For the mechanically inclined, working on custom and classic cars—and getting paid to do it—is a dream. Ben Giuliano is one of the few who made that dream a reality and wasn’t short on experience to make it happen.
“I already was very mechanical and my father did classic cars, so that’s kind of how I got into classics,” Giuliano recalls. “I liked that I can work and not hate my job,” says Giuliano on choosing a career in automotive. “So it’s something that I like to do. I may not make the most money in the world, but I like doing it. It’s kind of, with what I do as far as like the fabrication stuff, it’s almost like a form of art.”
In high school, Giuliano attended West Shore Career-Technical District’s automotive program in Lakewood, Ohio. After graduating high school in 2006, Giuliano studied collision refinishing, interior and custom upholstery, chassis fabrication and street rod/custom metal fabrication at WyoTech’s Blairsville, Pennsylvania, campus.
His first job was doing custom paint on aircrafts and jets for West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, Colorado. It wasn’t his dream job, but it was a good start to gain experience.
“I got that job through … it’s not exactly a job placement program, but if you build a resume through WyoTech, they have companies that come looking for people, and they’ll release all the resumes out to the companies” he recalls. “Maybe a month out of school I got a phone call out of the blue from WyoTech’s program for the job.”
With a few years of experience under his belt, Giuliano moved back to Ohio in 2011 to work as the head painter at T-Jay’s Service in Bedford.
His big break came when his former instructor, Mike Szittai, helped him get a job in Chattanooga, Tennessee, working for Corky Coker at Honesty Charley Garage. While attending a car show together, Szittai approached Coker and straight out asked him if he was hiring. Shortly after the chance encounter, Giuliano was interviewing for a head painter position and moved to Tennessee for the job.
“I moved to Nashville in late 2015 to work for Greening Auto Company, where I got my first experience with the really high-end cars,” he says.
At Greening, Giuliano met Jacob Edens and Grant Salter, and together they cooked up the idea to go out on their own and start Triworks Hot Rods.
“It was nerve-wracking. We planned it the week that it happened,” he recalls. “We bought a project. We built a truck for a country music singer that we knew—his name was James Otto—and we were doing it on the side. So we’d leave work and work on it for two to three hours a day. That vehicle grew to the point that we decided we were just going to do it on our own.”
Today, Triworks is approaching its third year in business. The shop completes maintenance and repair work, paint jobs and custom work, completing about two full custom builds a year.
“(My favorite thing is) that I’m allowed to do things that way I want to do them,” he says. “ And that was kind of the deciding factor between the three of us with starting our own business.”
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there,” he advises students wanting to enter the industry. “The people that have problems breaking into this part of the industry are the ones who think they can’t do it.”
Check out more “Kickstarting Your Career” stories, here.