Chester Kniss: A Mechanical Mind
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
ANTIOCH — When asked how he got involved in the auto repair field, Chester Kniss simply replies that he’s always been mechanically minded. “I’ve been interested in cars since I was a little boy, so I picked things up pretty naturally,” he says. “At 10 years old, I was able to accurately diagnose car problems, and by age 15, I’d built my first transmission.” After high school, Chester went directly into the automotive industry, where he started out working on diesel trucks. In 1994, he was hired at Delta Transmission, and 12 years later, he purchased the business from the owner.
Today, Chester says he still finds satisfaction in pursuing his lifelong livelihood. “I just enjoy working on cars. At this point, almost every aspect of my life involves cars, so I guess it’s become a part of who I am.”
A lifetime resident of the East Bay, Chester resides in Oakley with his wife, Beverly, and their two children. Outside of work, he engages in a variety of automotive-centered activities. “I’ve been dirt track racing competitively since 1994 and continue to do that today,” he says. “My wife grew up around racing, so we both love it, and now our son races as well.” When asked what he does to relax in between races, his response is hardly surprising: “Work on cars.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Chester espouses the importance of honesty. “Besides understanding how to do the job itself, the most important part of running a business is being honest with your customers,” he affirms. “When you’re honest and fair, customers will return, which is the lifeblood of any business—especially one like ours, where all the advertising is word-of-mouth.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Chester says he’d head back to the track. “I’d probably go racing. Right now, all the top-notch guys in my racing class are at the Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, so I’d head up and watch that. Other than racing, I wouldn’t mind taking a trip to Hawaii.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1972 Dodge Charger.
Q: What’s your dream car?
A: Pretty much any ’60s Ford or Dodge.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Cars and car parts.
Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: I like “The Fast and the Furious” series.
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. I’m up early and I go to bed late.