Billet Specialties Glenn Grozich
Glenn Grozich has been making things since he was 13 years old. His love of the manufacturing process, combined with his obsession with cars, his company has grown into one of the automotive aftermarket’s most successful businesses. Today, Grozich’s company, Billet Specialties, is known for delivering innovative aftermarket hot rod and muscle car wheels, in addition to numerous other types of products.
This year, Billet Specialties will celebrate its 32nd year in business.
“I think the key is keeping up with market trends and looking ahead to see what’s coming down the road in the future,” Grozich says of how he’s managed to keep his business at the forefront of the industry for over three decades.
Grozich, a lifelong car enthusiast, continues to build his business while also adding to his impressive personal stable of hot rides. Grozich is a fixture on the car show circuit each year and says he gets a kick out of seeing Billet Specialties products on the cars at events around the country.
“Seeing our products on a completed project car is one of my favorite parts [of what I do],” he said. “There’s gratification in seeing your products used on some of the most well-done cars in the industry.”
We spoke to Grozich about his cars, his life outside of the hobby, and how he’s managed to be so successful in the sometimes brutal automotive aftermarket industry.
Goodguys Gazette: Everyone loves to talk about their first hot rod. Tell us about yours.
Glenn Grozich: My first car was a ’32 five-window that I bought when I was 14…and I still have it today! I finished it before I graduated high school; that was the first go-around. Then I redid it three years later. The last time it was done was by Roy Brizio around 1996. It’s probably my favorite car in my collection and the only one that I would never sell. I have 40 cars—everything from street rods to ‘50s and ‘60s cars to modern muscle cars and exotics.
Goodguys Gazette: Why did you go into business manufacturing wheels? What was it about that part that piqued your interest?
Glenn Grozich: I started working for my dad when I was 13. He was in the machining and fabrication business. After I built my ’32, I started to develop a few parts for my own cars. One thing led to another, and I wanted to build a set of wheels for myself, and things just grew from there. That’s how it started; just a passion for cars and developing some products we thought we could sell. The trends were changing during that period, so timing had a lot to do [with my success].
Goodguys Gazette: What did your dad think when you told him you were going to go into business manufacturing car parts?
Glenn Grozich: My dad would say, ‘What are you doing? Why do you want to make car parts?!’ He could never see the purpose because he was in the machining business, so he was always on the opposite end, doing contract work for companies like GM. We started a product line under Billet Specialties, and it was a battle to get him to go along with it. But 10 years later he was like, ‘Wow, this is something I didn’t see.’
Goodguys Gazette: What are you most proud of?
Glenn Grozich: Working alongside my dad for all those years and eventually winning his support and pride [of my product line]. He thought it would be the destruction of his company at first, but as time progressed he realized it was a good move. I had proven myself to him, and to me, that was the only guy I had to prove myself to. He backed me 100 percent, even though there were times when he thought it would destroy me. I lost my dad 20 years ago, but if he could see the company today, he wouldn’t believe what I have done.
Goodguys Gazette: If you hadn’t gotten into the automotive industry, what kind of career do you think you would have pursued?
Glenn Grozich: I think I would have built homes. I like home construction. I have built a couple homes and buildings.
Goodguys Gazette: Billet Specialties prides itself on its products being built in America. Why is it so important to you to produce “Made in America” parts?
Glenn Grozich: I think that hot rodding is an American pastime. We developed it so I think we should sustain it here. It’s an American hobby and I think the trends are set in the United States. It’s important to me that my products are made here. I know I can have my products made for a fraction of the cost off-shore, but I feel like we’d be selling ourselves short at that point as Americans.
Goodguys Gazette: How do you think the up-and-coming builders differ from the established builders of today? What are they interested in?
Glenn Grozich: Overall the level of cars being built has come way up, and the bar keeps getting set higher and higher. I think the young guys are passionate about what they’re doing and their metal fabricating work is amazing. To win Street Machine of the Year now, the car has got to be really special because there’s a lot of competition. It’s good for the industry. The younger guys are into performance-related type cars. They want power. But the workmanship is really good.
Goodguys Gazette: Your ’62 Biscayne “Chicayne” won Street Machine of the Year in 2002. How do you think it would fare today?
Glenn Grozich:When we won Street Machine of the Year, people said the car was so far ahead of its time, but today people are setting the bar higher and higher so I’m not sure. There’s so much competition, but that’s a good thing for our industry. Competition builds better products, and things become more innovative.
Always deliver quality product, and don’t take the shortcuts. Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like, and pick the good qualities you like out of those people and try to [emulate] them. You become like the people you surround yourself with.
Goodguys Gazette: You have 40 cars. Which one is your daily driver?
Glenn Grozich: Most of the time I drive a Suburban. I live in Illinois, so in the winter that’s [what] can handle [the weather]. In the summer and spring, though, I drive my Z06 Corvette.
Goodguys Gazette: If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be?
Glenn Grozich: You look at a guy like Henry Ford; he’s someone that took an idea and built an empire. I would have loved to meet him, because I’m so intrigued by manufacturing. How do you start with that concept and develop it? To come up with an idea and build an empire like Ford Motor Co., that’s amazing.
Goodguys Gazette: What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
Glenn Grozich: People are surprised to learn that I was big into tropical fish. I raised and bred them. I had to find a hobby that wasn’t related to cars, because I eat, breath and sleep cars every day all day. At one point in my life, I think I became overwhelmed with cars and billet parts and I needed something that would take my mind away from it. [My fish] were my sanctuary. I could get away from the day-to-day business stuff.
Goodguys Gazette: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Glenn Grozich: Always deliver quality product, and don’t take the shortcuts. Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like, and pick the good qualities you like out of those people and try to [emulate] them. You become like the people you surround yourself with.