I would like to get a little personal this month and first send out a message to one of my longtime friends and mentors, Mitch Schneider. Mitch is at City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California recovering from a blood platelet transplant that was performed to help stop the cancer that has attacked his system. He has made daily videos of his journey and posted them on Facebook so we can share the ups and downs of fighting the dreaded “C” with him.
Starting with my first days in the automotive industry, I was an avid reader of trade magazines, and Mitch was one of my favorite writers. He was never afraid to tell it like he saw it (he still isn’t), and he had (still has) a grasp of the English language that made me feel as though I had been with him as he was experiencing whatever he was writing about. My lovely wife knew that when I brought home the latest issue of Super Service Station, Motor Service, or whatever magazine was carrying Mitch’s column, that I would be engrossed for the next hour living along with Mitch as he solved the problems of the world. In addition to his writing, Mitch shares his ideas in person at conventions, training sessions, and several other venues. He was one of the favorite speakers in the earlier days of VISION, and a couple of years ago at the Ratchet+Wrench conference, during a cocktail reception, I was thrilled when Mitch came up to me and asked if we could step around the corner and have a conversation where it wasn’t quite so noisy. We talked for nearly an hour, and I was amazed that this industry icon took the time to talk and listen to what I had to say.
I was not surprised when Mitch announced that through YouTube, he was going share his perspectives, his highs, and his lows as he prepared for, received, and recovered from the transplant surgery. It is typical Mitch: letting us know just what he is thinking and feeling. Please say a prayer for Mitch. And to Mitch, from me: God bless you, my friend. You have done so much for the automotive industry and I pray that you can continue. As I look back through the years and see who my biggest influencers have been, you are exceptionally high on that list. Thank you for your leadership and for sharing so much with me.
Note from Jerry: After composing this message and reflecting on Mitch’s situation, I came to the conclusion that I needed to share some more information about another good friend and his fight with cancer. Paul Rupp has been fighting lung cancer that has spread to his brain, and probably to other places of which we are not aware. Paul had asked me not to share his plight with “the world”, but last night at a MWACA Kansas City chapter meeting, Paul and his wonderful wife Polly showed up to learn from Rick White. After having a long conversation with Paul, I told him about the article I was writing about Mitch, and asked if he would mind if I added a paragraph or two about his fight. He said he would be honored, however I must tell you that I am the one honored to write about my long-time friend, fellow shop owner and MWACA member, and one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure to know. When I first met Paul, he was working out of his basement garage with the goal of becoming a shop owner. Our group made suggestions, poked, and prodded him until he bought New Concept Auto Service and became the consummate professional. Paul joined Bottom Line Impact Group #2 and had a natural grasp of numbers, which helped him keep a close eye on how his business was doing by focusing on his KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. He was never afraid to make changes if they would help him grow. For the past several years he has grown his classic and performance car restoration business into a nice little niche.
Paul’s cancer has literally beat the crap out of him. He has endured chemo and radiation, all the while keeping an upbeat attitude even when others would have given up. He was recently told that he is maxed out on the treatments – his good organs are going to be harmed if he continues to receive the chemo and radiation. I want everyone to know how much I HATE this disease that causes pain and takes away my friends and family. Mitch and Paul are definitely two people who do not belong in this struggle. We all know someone that is fighting or has fought the good fight, but please do me a favor and add a prayer for my good friends, Mitch and Paul. God bless.