I’d like to take an opportunity to introduce myself, I’m John Walko, but you may hear a few others around here refer to me as Johnny. There is a reason for this, as Bruce likes to say he found me under a Corvette when I was 15, it’s true. I was at the race track with my father, and his name is John, so to friends and family I’m Johnny. I was introduced to Bruce as Johnny and it stuck.
I spent two years working in the shop as a mechanic under Gary Hoffman’s guidance. During those years, Gary was a very active shop foreman, and probably the best mechanic that I have ever had the opportunity to work with, and I have worked with Indycar mechanics. The skills, process and methodology learned during those years have served me quite well. I have used them as a guideline for mechanics that I have employed over the years on my championship winning race teams.
Teams that I have owned or managed have won championships in both the Pro Formula Mazda and USF2000 categories of the Mazda Road to Indy, an intensely competitive series primarily consisting of young drivers on their way to the highest levels of motorsport. This is an environment where failure is not an option, there are no comebacks, a loose bolt can destroy a two hundred thousand dollar racing car and injure or possibly kill a young driver. The skills learned here gave me and my crew the ability to operate successfully in that environment, and it will be my intention to do whatever it takes to bring the quality of work coming out of this shop to the same level of a championship winning race team.
In the years after Diesel Injection I’ve done quite a few things all of which I’ve learned a thing or two from. I made an attempt at college that didn’t go so well (I’d love another chance at this), bartended, moved to Colorado to be a ski bum (I thank Bruce for this), managed a restaurant, and then my father and I started a small manufacturing business in the early nineties. I was tasked with managing the shop, designing and building truck mounted vacuum excavation systems. I did this for eight years, and during that time I discovered that I really enjoyed managing a shop.
I learned an awful lot about fabrication and manufacturing. We built some really nice equipment, but the business never proved to be very profitable, maybe the stuff we were building was a little too nice. During the years building the vacuum trucks I had some freedom and a little bit of space in the back corner of the shop that enabled me to do some restoration work on race cars, which led to me driving for a few seasons. I was pretty quick, this led to more restoration and set-up work on racing cars, and soon my hobby became my business and I loved it. I have no regrets, but at 49 years old a steady paycheck and a little less travel is starting to look pretty attractive, so again I called Bruce and as it turns out he had a need.
I love to spend time with my children (I’ve got four 20 Emily, 19 Trent and 10 year old twin girls Jenna and Julia), ride bicycles, ski, work on my sons go-karts/race car. I drink craft beer, listen to alternative, blues, jazz, alt-country, folk and bluegrass music. I watch very little TV, and I won’t talk to you about religion or politics.
Well, enough about me now I’d like to hear about you. Of course I’ve been given some input on all of you, but I would really like to know in your own words where you think your strengths and weakness lie, the types of jobs you are most comfortable or uncomfortable with, and some of your personal interests.
I would also like to know areas in which you believe that we can improve as a company. I will use this information to do my best in pairing you with tasks that you will enjoy. This doesn’t mean that you will never again have to do something that you don’t like, but you need to know that an effort will be made to keep you in your comfort zone while we work together to expand that zone. This is also going to help me write an employee handbook that is just going to make everybody’s job easier by outlining processes and procedures that you may now be giving too much thought to. With this information we will be able to build a team that is stronger and more efficient than any of us are individually.
I want you to know that as your manager I will be working for you. The information that I gather here will be used to shape the future of the shop, so now is your chance to make a difference. Sometime soon after I collect and read all of your responses I will be meeting with each of you individually to discuss your input.
Feel free to email your input to me at email@example.com.
Many of the articles compiled here where written by Bruce Mallinson. Attribution to other contributors is given in the specific articles.