THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business May '14

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May 2014 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 49 Gray Fredrick Co-owner, American Powertrain T his month we have the privilege of chatting with my good friend, Gray Fredrick. I have known Gray for a number of years, going back to the days when I was working in the transmission industry. At that time, Gray and his partner were just starting out in the business as well. Fast-forward five years, and they had built a successful Tremec Elite Dealership, American Powertrain. There are fewer than a dozen Tremec Elite Dealerships in the world, making this a very exclusive club. They also own a related company called The Driven Man. American Powertrain not only sells Tremec manual transmissions, it also manufactures a full line of transmission accessories. This includes complete kits to install a modern Tremec 5- or 6-speed transmission in an early muscle car or truck, crossmembers, performance shifters, clutch kits, flywheels, performance bellhousings and other transmission accessories. It also carries a full line of performance crate engines. Gray is one of the good guys in this industry, as anyone who has had the pleasure of crossing paths with him will agree. He is also a wealth of knowledge and an expert on all things automatic and manual transmission. PHB: So what got you interested in the automotive aftermarket, Gray? GF: My older brother was always building something fast and driving the heck out of it. From a 140-mph VW Beetle to a slick 70-1/2 split-bumper Camaro. I worshipped everything he and his friends bolted together. PHB: And how did you end up in the position you have today? GF: I was working in this industry for a company with great products, but their customer service and delivery left a lot to be desired. I became an expert on manual transmission conversions while working there, and decided I could make better products and take care of customers the way they wanted to be taken care of. I partnered up with a friend who was already running a fledgling manual transmission conversion company for Jaguar, and over time we developed a complete line of world-beating American car manual transmission products. PHB: Please tell us about your company American Powertrain and its place in the performance aftermarket. GF: American Powertrain is recog- nized as the leader in 5- and 6-speed manual transmission conversions, but it is so much more. We have branched out into a full line of bits and pieces that help anyone installing a manual transmission in a classic car get the job completed the proper way. We have even started helping the slush box crowd. From crossmembers and hydraulic clutch systems to flywheels and complete installation kits, our aim is to help anyone that needs to properly install a gearbox get what they need to "get their shift together." PHB: What's a typical day like for you? GF: I wear a lot of hats, from sales and customer service when needed, to doing quality control on customers' orders. My main focus each day is to get my hands dirty making new products and helping improve established ones. PHB: What's the best thing about your job, Gray? GF: I love to see the ideas that were born in my head become real solutions for real customers. There is nothing more rewarding than creating something unique and sharing it with automotive enthusi- asts, so they can go out and enjoy their own cars. PHB: What's your biggest challenge at American Powertrain? GF: Growth is a huge challenge. I call it, "trying to stay ahead of the wave." We are constantly introducing new products, and sales are through the roof. Sometimes you have to take a step back from killer growth and make sure you can continue to live up to your own reputa- Fredrick was granted his first patent on this adjustable firewall mount for installing a clutch master cylinder. It has become a cornerstone of the company's product mix. Bolt-in installation kits like this ProFit 5-Speed system for early Chevelles and GTOs are typical of the complete solutions American Powertrain sells to make installation a one-day proposition. The helpful, knowledgeable staff at American Powertrain strives to serve customers at a high level. PHBMAY.indd 49 4/2/14 11:36 AM

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