Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In today’s installment of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about Bryan Gregory, co-host of Tech Garage on Velocity. Gregory also spent 12 years at Advance Auto Parts as director of training/team member engagement and currently serves as director, training development and customer experience for GE Digital.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job was at Advance Auto Parts in 2003, to head up a consumer education division, part of marketing, with the purpose of breaking Advance away from the pack in aftermarket retail.
What do you like best about your current role in the aftermarket?
The thing I love that trumps it all is that I just love to help people. I think that’s the way John [Tech Garage co-host John Gardner] and I approach the show. It’s a very hands-on, demo-based approach. It’s all about, “Look, here’s what you have to tackle in your driveway or in your garage and here’s how we can help.” It’s that helper in me and at the same time, there’s a significant part of my brain that is just a fixer. I was the kid who tore everything apart just to put it back together.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the automotive aftermarket?
That’s a great question. I spent the first 16 years of my career in broadcast television, behind the scenes doing a lot of producing and directing. But I never ever fell out of love with the driveway. All throughout that journey, I’ve always been a car guy and built many vehicles. I continued that as a hobbyist and then when Advance was looking for somebody with some marketing leadership experience to build a whole new channel and capability, it was just a perfect marriage to formally get me into that space. It grew from there.
What do you do when you are not working?
The first part of the answer is, I have four beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife who tolerates me and all of my crazy automotive stuff. So, I spend time with them and get them where they need to go. But when I’m not working, I tinker a lot on two toy vehicles. My dad and I built an antique fire truck – a 1953 American LaFrance fire truck. We take that to shows and competitions and tinker on that. And, I’m a little bit of a Jeep enthusiast. I spend a lot of time on that. Just last night in fact I brought home another CJ7. And then finally, I do a little bit of spec racing. It’s less and less every year, but I love to get out on the track and grind a little.
Are you teaching your daughters to work on cars?
Absolutely. The five year old is going to change oil this weekend, and the 10-year-old, the 19-year-old and the 21-year-old have all changed oil in the past.
What one word best sums up your personality?
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1973 Dodge Dart Swinger, powder blue.
Who was your childhood hero?
My childhood hero would be my Pap – that’s my grandfather. He got it all started for me in automotive. He could do anything, build anything and he always brought me along for the ride, which might be why I love bringing other people along for the ride so much.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I play drums. I probably make more noise than I do music, but I really enjoy it.
Who would be on your dream dinner party guest list?
Here’s a good one: I was fortunate enough at SEMA, probably about 10 years ago now, to have a one-on-one, three hour dinner with Caroll Shelby. It was just amazing and if I had to do dinner again and could have him back, I would pick him.
If you could time travel, to what era and where would you go?
If I could go back, I would go back to the 1950s when America was on a massive upward trajectory and the automobile was coming into its own. ’57 Chevys were the icon of the era. I just love that whole era.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra or motto?
My mantra would be the same as when I played football in high school. We would slap our helmets, come out of the locker room and say these words, and they’ve been applicable in all areas of my life since then: “In life you either lead, follow or get out of the way.”