I met Chris Vallone several times at local car shows. Chris runs the Classic VW Bug Shop in Congers, NY with his dad. Chris always made an entrance at the shows usually arriving with several stunning classic Beetles as examples of his work. Being consistently impressed, I decided to pay a visit to his shop.
Chris and his father, Chris Vallone Sr. started the business about 14 years ago. They specialize only in classic Beetle restoration. Most are built/restored to order through the “Build a Bug program”. (see their website for more details – http://www.classicvwbugs.com/build-a-bug/what-is-build-a-bug/) Others are purchased, cleaned up, and resold.
Their success is due to a combination of passion for their work, their craftsmanship, and Chris Jr.’s film/media skills.
Chris has two passions, film-making and restoring classic Beetles. He is largely self-taught in both areas. Chris never studied film-making formally. He learned his craft by studying it on his own through the internet. While not widely known in the film industry, Chris has achieved some success and has produced at least 10 films.
Building great Beetles is only one of the necessary ingredients in a successful restoration business. You have to sell them too. Chris leverages his film-making skills to create videos of the Bugs he is selling.
About 14 years ago (circa 2003), Chris restored a Bug for himself with his father. Chris Sr. had experience working on cars from when he was young. Together they worked on the Bug and Chris Jr. learned a few things from his dad about cars along the way.
At some point after the Bug was completed, Chris needed cash for one of his films. He decided to sell his first Bug on eBay. Chris called on his film-making abilities to present the bug in the best light possible on both eBay and Youtube.
It sold right away.
Chris and his dad thought it was surprisingly easy to sell the bug on eBay. They decided to restore another one, use the same video approach to market the next Bug and see if it would sell just as easily.
It did… and a business was born!
Chris and his dad started the business out of their one car garage. They continued the recipe of meticulous Beetle restoration combined with successful video promotion and never looked back. Two years later they moved to their professional garage in Congers, NY. Now, 8 years later the expansion continues as they seek to hire their first mechanics.
If you’re into Beetles, follow others including the likes of Jerry Seinfeld (a customer) and give them a call. You won’t be disappointed.Here is their contact info:
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