[dropcap sid=”dropcap-1446585320″]C[/dropcap]ar engines roar, and power drills hum. “Bear with me,” says Jason Wenig (MBA ’94), owner of Creative Workshop. “It’s about to get loud in here.”
Noisy days are the norm at Creative Workshop, a nationally recognized, full-service car restoration shop located in a 12,000-square-foot facility in Dania, Florida. Founded in 2002, the company has made its reputation by tackling projects that go well beyond the typical scope of car restoration, performing what the alumnus refers to as “forensic restoration” (i.e., the preservation of rare and exotic cars). Forensic projects include prototypes, etceterini (handmade Italian race cars), and historic vehicles, a workload that keeps Mr. Wenig and his 12-man team on their game, working on as many as 24 projects at a time.
Wenig defines himself as more artist than mechanic, explaining, “Imagine instead that I’m an art historian asked to restore a long-lost Picasso before it hangs in the Louvre. That gives you a better sense of what we do.”
Born and raised in New York, Wenig always considered himself a “gearhead” but never dreamed he would work with cars for a living. When he earned his MBA in marketing from Baruch, he set out on a decade-long career in advertising, working at such established firms as Backer Spielvogel Bates and Ogilvy & Mather during the infancy of the Internet age—“an exhausting time,” he recalls.
The experience wore on Wenig, so he decided to shift gears into a marketing role for a small startup that sold car parts. Although the venture ultimately failed, it gave him a taste for entrepreneurship and made him realize he wanted to further pursue his passion for cars. So he and his then-girlfriend (now wife) spent four months creating a business plan for Creative Workshop and took that plan to investors.
Wenig sees the roots of his flair for entrepreneurship in his Baruch MBA. “My accounting class used to give me nightmares,” he jokes. “But it taught me that you simply have to find a way to succeed—you can’t accept failure.”