Phil Chadd: Win-Win
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SANTA CRUZ — When he returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam, Phil Chadd was in the market for a new vehicle and in search of a renewed sense of direction. He never thought, however, that by finding the first, the second would shortly follow. “My friend’s father owned a local body shop, and he had a motorcycle for sale that I was interested in buying,” he remembers. “I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, but I did have some experience working on cars, so I offered to work for him to pay for the bike. It ended up being a true win-win situation—not only did I get a motorcycle, I also found a career!”
After undergoing an initial apprenticeship, Phil spent the next two decades working for various independent shops and dealers before opening his own body shop in 1993. Today, as owner of Phil’s Auto Body, he says he enjoys the autonomy that comes with being his own boss, as well as his daily interactions with customers. “One of the things about working for dealerships is they’re open 364 days a year, whereas working for yourself offers a measure of freedom when it comes to scheduling. In addition to making my own hours, I also enjoy meeting new people and hearing the bizarre stories of how their cars ended up here.”
A 40-year resident of Santa Cruz (where he lives with his wife, Karen), Phil says he appreciates the region’s temperate weather and coastal orientation. “With an average temperature of 65 to 75 degrees, you can’t beat the weather here. Also, as a former marine biology major, I appreciate the beauty of our coast and the fact that it’s a national marine sanctuary.”
Outside of work, Phil enjoys spending time with his family (he’s a father of two and grandfather of four), playing golf, fishing in the Monterey Bay and riding his Harley Davidson. He and his wife are also avid NASCAR fans, and they can typically be found at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on race day. “We’ve been going there to watch races since it first opened 15 years ago,” he says. “We actually have our own motorhome spot right inside Turn 2!”
In his life and career, Phil espouses the importance of living in the moment. “Enjoy the day, because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring you,” he asserts. “I’ve found that a lot of people have regrets because they held back and didn’t live enough in the moment. I don’t go that route—I keep it going.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Phil says he’d head out on an extended road trip. “I’d fire up the motorhome and chase the NASCAR boys around a bit. As racing fans, I think that would be a fun way for me and my wife to see some more of the country.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Do you have a favorite band?
A: The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd—all the bands I listened to growing up in the ’60s.
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1947 Chevrolet Business Coupe.
Q: If you could drive any car, what would you choose?
A: Besides the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air I used to have, probably the new Corvette ZR1.
Q: Ever had a conversation with a famous person?
A: Dick Smothers of the Smothers Brothers brought his car in when I was managing a Mercedes-Benz body shop.
Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Here at the shop, I usually listen to KPIG, a local station that plays an eclectic mix of blues, country and rock.
Q: Do you collect anything?
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A: Matchbox cars, as well as hats, t-shirts and other memorabilia from the NASCAR races I attend.