Jason Cook of LINE-X: “Enjoy the ride”

Enjoy the ride. Success is just a word, the adventure of how you accomplish it is to be cherished and enjoyed. I find myself constantly hyper focused on the next thing, the next move, the next challenge. I have to remind myself that at the end of this adventure, it means less if you don’t […]

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Enjoy the ride. Success is just a word, the adventure of how you accomplish it is to be cherished and enjoyed. I find myself constantly hyper focused on the next thing, the next move, the next challenge. I have to remind myself that at the end of this adventure, it means less if you don’t enjoy and appreciate how you got there.

As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Cook.

Jason is the owner of LINE-X of McKinney/Frisco and LINE-X of North Dallas.

He started his business back in 2014 where he transitioned from his budding career in engineering to his true passion, cars and motorsports. Now, Jason is a multi-unit franchisee who’s built an impressive clientele improving and outfitting vehicles with the help of LINE-X, (the leading manufacturer of high-performance protective coating and industry leading automotive lifestyle accessories), for amazing results. To amp up the fun, Jason is a professional racer where his truck and the prominent LINE-X logo put his passion and his profession in full view.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I experienced a pretty normal childhood. I was raised in Richmond, Virginia, in a four-person household with my father Ronnie, my mother Joan and younger brother Aaron. We both played baseball and football, but my main passion was motorsports. I remember leveraging good grades for a TV in my room, just so I could watch any and all motorsports without getting overruled in the family room. At 10 I began working on a local lower tier NASCAR series starting with simple tasks on the racecars, sweeping the shop floor and traveling with the team to the races. Getting to be in that environment and have that experience is how my passion for motorsports exploded. It was ultimately the catalyst that started my path toward mechanical engineering in college and then inevitably pursuing franchise business ownership in the automotive world.

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

When I was 25, I was a few years into my first engineering job and spending a lot of time behind a desk. My career was off to a great start; I was young and had some decent money in my pocket. That’s when I made the decision to purchase my first Ford Raptor, the coolest truck on the market at the time. Yet, my engineering brain says that things are rarely ever the best they can be from straight off the shelf, and there’s always room for improvement. So, my “aha” moment came when I designed and developed components for my own truck, earning attention from my friends and even complete strangers who wanted me to do the same for their vehicles. One “customer” turned into two, two into 10, and the rest is history. Next year will be our 7th anniversary with LINE-X, and we have thousands of customers all over the world.

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

I was very fortunate to have started down this path in my mid-twenties. It allowed me to be almost fearless when it came to the struggle of questioning, “Should I do this?” I knew that starting my own business was a good idea, and it honestly was a no-lose situation, especially in a franchise system such as LINE-X. They do a great job of mitigating and explaining your risk before you even make the first step. There’s also a network of hundreds of franchisees that I know I can rely on in any situation. These were crucial pieces of information that pushed me to make the leap into owning my own business.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

Sometimes you just have to jump out of the plane not knowing if your parachute was packed correctly, or if there even is a parachute on your back. Many people focus on whether the idea is good, or if the business is viable. Instead, they should be focused on the economy, the people around them who can help, their work ethic, and their stubbornness. A great idea or business can fail from lack of effort and being quick to give up. Any idea can be successful if there is a market desire, a tireless approach, the right people and a “never-give-up” attitude. Personally, I had a good idea that the business would work because I’m very stubborn and will not give up. It helps that Texas is a humongous truck market, and being partnered with LINE-X puts us in a great position to thrive here. To this day, my team and I will work for hours on end until an entire job is complete.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

Never stop progressing, taking on challenges and chasing your passion. Build something new, spray LINE-X on something new, always be looking to the next thing. No matter if you love it, or hate it, I feel that progress and advancement is the only way to keep things interesting, and the progress of the process is the most enjoyable aspect of it all. When I first started, I enjoyed working in the shop, prepping vehicles, spraying LINE-X and turning wrenches. Upon growing and evolving the company, adding multiple LINE-X franchises, and teaching new employees, I’m filled with more joy than I even experienced turning wrenches. Racing helps to keep things fun as well. Getting to hit the circuit with my truck is one of my greatest joys and the toughness of LINE-X protects against the roughness of the desert terrain.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

My greatest enjoyment comes from giving adults a reason to be as happy as a kid on Christmas. As we get older, our excitement either decreases or becomes harder to achieve. So, when we can outfit someone’s truck or complete a service that makes them feel the same anticipation of waiting for Santa Claus or the thrill of opening presents, that’s the most enjoyable feeling for us.

The biggest downside is never truly achieving time off. Whether or not you’re physically in the office is irrelevant; your brain never stops. You develop the idea that if you stop thinking or stop doing, even for an hour… you’re losing progress. One of my biggest motivators is knowing that I’m not alone and I’ve got a great network of support from LINE-X and their franchisees.

By acknowledging those negative feeling, I address my concerns head-on by prioritizing the physical projects that are of immediate importance over the mental tasks that I can accomplish outside of my store. This helps me maximize time and action, leaving time for experiences unrelated to work to be fully enjoyed because I know I’ve gotten to a place in my to-do list where I can relax.

Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I thought, being a franchise owner, I would work less and have the freedom to navigate the day as I choose. But obviously, being an owner, you have an even greater commitment than your average employee. Multiple situations arise with different tasks where you’re the only one left to get the job done. For instance, we are staffed with 5 spray techs between our locations, but that doesn’t mean I just sit around the office while they do all the hard work. I always have to be ready to jump in for any given reason. If we fall behind, or a new client calls, or a new unscheduled truck drops by, I need to be right there to support my team in any way I can. Getting that truck out the door to make the customer happy is always a top priority. If that means I need to go out and sand, tape, prime, spray or disassemble the next truck I will.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?

With any job there are instances where you think you’ve come to an impasse, but when you consider how many lives you have affected and will continue to affect… you can’t stop. Sometimes stopping and giving up may seem like the only solution, but I believe you never fail until you give up. If you don’t achieve what you set out to accomplish, that’s not necessarily a failure, you just need to try a different approach.

It wasn’t funny at the time, but… In order to ensure a straight cut line in the LINE-X process, we use a special tape that has a thin gauge metal wire embedded in it. The critical part of the application of this tape is the orientation of the wire, top or bottom, that determines what side is cut.

Well, we were just opening, and we just landed a major dealership in our territory that would provide us numerous trucks every month. The owner of the dealership asked us if we could spray the inside of his personal horse trailer. We excitedly accepted, to earn his trust and show him our talents.

We backed the trailer into the booth and began the LINE-X process. Tape, Wire Tape, Paper, plastic, etc. We had the entire 30ft horse trailer covered and prepped. We sprayed the trailer and it looked great! We began to unmask the trailer and we realized that our new spray tech in our new franchise had installed the wire tape upside down! We had to cut the entire coating out and start the process completely over. In total, something that should have taken us 6–8 hours took 14 hours. I am not sure if the owner of the trailer was ever informed, the employee still works for us, and we still spray for that dealership, 6 years later.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

We are fortunate to have a lot of customers who have accomplished a lot in life and business that have created great success for themselves. Our customers push me to be the best leader I can be for my team, and there’s an expectation that nothing less will be accepted. Giving people a reason to be proud to be a partner, an employee, a customer, a friend and to have an association with LINE-X of McKinney/Frisco, LINE-X of North Dallas, and Texas Motorworx is and will always be the driving inspiration for all that I do.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I like to think so. In addition to providing jobs for our employees and being a sales avenue for all our suppliers, we give people an outlet for their passion. We’ve created a community of people with similar interests and allowed them to develop true friendships with people they wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s important especially in times like these that people have things that they enjoy and that improve their lives. I think we provide that for a lot of people with our services.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • No matter what you do and how much you love it, there will be days you don’t want to put in effort. That being said, doing something you love makes everything so much easier. There have been days that I have woken up less than joyous knowing what the day was about to entail, but instead of thinking, “I don’t want to do this,” I psych myself up for the challenge ahead and can’t wait to get started.
  • Do not set finite goals. Your goals are just a stepping stone to get to the next step. Don’t stop progressing just because you accomplish something. We set out to have 6-figure sales months, and when we achieved it, it was a huge accomplishment for the whole team. New months are always on the horizon and just because we eclipsed a big monthly sales number, doesn’t mean we can’t go bigger.
  • Take your understanding of hard, tough and challenging work and multiple by 100. I used to think hard, tough and challenging work involved an Engineering class or a project deadline. But when you consider all of the responsibilities of a business owner, those college classes seem easy and you crave a group project.
  • Make it count… even from day one. You will make mistakes; you will have bad situations… But never be afraid to make a change to ensure you correct your mistakes and learn from them. Everything you do should have a value, either tangible or hypothetical… make it count. As we have grown, it is very clear that time is the most valuable commodity. There is physically nothing to be done to gain more of it, but you can waste it quickly. We have made many mistakes and as long as we learn from them, no time is wasted.
  • Enjoy the ride. Success is just a word, the adventure of how you accomplish it is to be cherished and enjoyed. I find myself constantly hyper focused on the next thing, the next move, the next challenge. I have to remind myself that at the end of this adventure, it means less if you don’t enjoy and appreciate how you got there.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Bet on yourself. If you have a good idea, a good vision, a desire, bet on yourself and accomplish your dreams. Do every possible thing you can to take the necessary approach to accomplishing your goals. Do not wait for someone else to do it for you or before you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time, season to taste.” When your company begins to grow and your stress and responsibilities are growing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Constantly reciting and reading has helped us get through even the most daunting of tasks. I believe that every job can be accomplished with little steps. Focus on the next step and then the next step until the project or task is completed.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Jim Farley or Mark Rushbrook. Those gentlemen are top leaders within the company that has most indirectly affected our success, Ford Motor Company. Without the development of the Raptor, LINE-X of McKinney/Frisco, LINE-X of North Dallas and my other company Texas Motorworx would never exist.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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