Owner of the Month: Tony D’Antonio

Tony D’Antonio has built D’Antonio Automotive from a side job in his driveway to a sought-after specialty business

Photo by Amy Tucker
Interview by Courtney Potts

How would you describe your company? We are a restoration and prepare facility for classic, exotic, and special-interest vehicles. Basically, anything cool, we work on.

How long have you been in business?  It started as a side job in my driveway, when I was 19, but this month marks eight years that I’ve been working full time.

Do you like what you do? Yes, I love it. I have the greatest job on the planet. It doesn’t feel like work to me. I say to people, “I don’t work; I get paid to play.”

What’s your favorite part about the job? I love the interactions with the people here. I love seeing a person’s dream come true. Cars people have had since they were a child, or their father’s car, we bring back to life. Seeing the interaction and the reactions of these people is the most rewarding thing on the planet.

What is one of the hardest projects you’ve worked on? We never say “no” to any project, ever—it will get done. However, it may take us a while to fix it. For instance, we have a 1940 Mercury Woody Wagon on the lift right now that’s been here for about three years. The car is one of like ten left in the world. It was also used as a lot car for Paramount Pictures or MGM studios.It has carried around some of the most famous actors of our time. A lot of the parts on that car we’ve had to make ourselves, because the car is so rare and nobody has the part. The project has been a one-step-forward and three-steps-back process. My goal is to finish it by the end of this year.

Do you give back to the community? I am huge on philanthropy. My
shop goes above and beyond to benefit youth organizations. I also believe
in sponsoring the local fire, EMS and police departments. They are the ones
who protect us. We offer 10% off to all county employees as a thank you.
It sounds like you are kept busy.

What’s a typical day for you? If you need me, I’m there. I’m basically your 24/7 car guy. I help with people’s small or big car problems, all day long. So at 6:30am, my cell phone starts ringing, and this goes on until about 9pm, then I try to force myself to put the phone down for the day. I think it’s that dedication that’s brought us a lot of high-end clients, including professional athletes, political figures, and even celebrities. In fact, we had Chris Brown’s Lambo in our shop about two weeks ago.

Any struggles along the way? There have been many roadblocks throughout my life. I don’t know if you noticed, by I have a stutter. I was told by many people that being a business owner wouldn’t be possible for me, because an owner’s main job is communicating with people. It motivated me. I wanted to prove them all wrong. Looking back, it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come.