First, I have to consider whether I’ve ever been called “mate” so many times in one sitting.
Next, I realize that I won’t be surprised if I see Dynosteve and crew on TLC or some other TV channel. Leerentveld says they’ll soon begin filming “Ballistic Builds,” an “Orange County Choppers” type show where he’ll build race cars and interject humor. He’s got the personality for it, to go along with an uncanny fearlessness for making others laugh (it’s not every day that a reporter gets an on-the-record account of an entrepreneur questioning his business partner’s masculinity simply for wearing a pair of khakis).
But the two most surprising things to come out of that interview were the less-than-flattering things Steve had to say about his country and the devotion his employees show him, despite the business being open for less than three months.
Head mechanic Eric Petit is one of four workers who shut down his own shop to work for Steve. He put a lot of money into his own shop in Akron, but the economy began enforcing a stranglehold on it. Around that time, another current employee told Petit about Steve’s enthusiasm, previous success in Australia and overall know-how.
“Being that my shop wasn’t producing, I went ahead and closed it and decided to come here,” he said. “After I came up and saw this place, this was what I always wanted my shop to progress to. I just wasn’t ever going to get there, so basically it was a way to be where I wanted to be.”
Petit’s obviously not the first to do this, but for a boss who’s only been in America since October? It’s a big risk, but one he’s confident will pay off.
As for Leerentveld’s comments about the land down under, let’s just say you won’t confuse anything he said with hometown pride.
“I could care less if Australia sank into the water,” he said. “I have no intention of moving back to Australia.”
He didn’t blink when he said this. More than anything, he seems to enjoy the social life he’s acquired here, particularly hanging out with John Venaleck, his best friend who co-owns the venture with him. They go to bars and all sorts of functions, whereas back home, he subscribed to a go-to-work-come-home lifestyle.
He says he wasn’t the only the one who lived that way, that it was common for most his age. Since the extent of my Australian knowledge revolves around watching drunken Americans on “The Real World: Sydney” a couple years back, I’ll take his word for it.
He had nothing but pleasant things to say about Painesville, Lake County and Greater Cleveland as a whole. He even likes the snow! If that’s not a reason to make him feel welcome, what is?
-- Brandon C. Baker