Jay Meling “blames” his dad for his interest in auto repair and restoration.
Growing up, Meling’s dad worked long hours. Oftentimes he’d only get to see him for a short amount of time in the evening and then on the weekends when he wasn’t working. And it was on those weekends that Meling, who has been with Mid-States Concrete since Nov. 2011 as an Engineering Quality Auditor, would hunker down in the garage with his dad.
As young as five-years-old, Meling would join his dad while he tinkered with and repaired lawn mowers. By about seven-years-old, Meling was helping with repairs. And at nine-years-old, when Meling got his first minibike and go-kart, he began working on them first with his dad and then on his own. Meling said he learned how to complete the repairs simply by asking questions. His dad was great at explaining exactly what he was doing and why, so Meling could learn.
By the time he was 14-years-old, Meling acquired his first car, a 1972 Plymouth Duster. And although it needed a lot of work – maintenance, brakes, tune-up – Meling enjoyed learning “how the car was put together.”
At 17-years-old, Meling got a 1974 Plymouth Duster, which he started racing against friends on back rural roads. It was all for pride and bragging rights.
“I’m a male and I had a V8 (engine),” Meling laughed about his interest in racing.
Meling’s father had raced his own 1959 Corvette as a teenager. It was the stories he told that led Meling to get his dad a car of his own to race and restore.
When Meling acquired a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner, he also got into drag racing. He takes the Road Runner, and his dad takes his 1965 Dodge Coronet 440 (a gift from Meling), to the Mopar Nationals every year.
Over the years, Meling has learned quite a bit about repairing cars and people aren’t shy about bringing him cars for repair. Meling has had as many as 70 vehicles on his five-acre property and has only a small fraction of that now. Some are for parts, some are project cars, others he is repairing for others. He probably spends about three- to four-hours every night working on cars.
Meling and his dad still live close enough to each other that they are able to regularly work on cars together, too.
“It’s the challenge and, it happens more often than not, that people will bring me a car no one else can fix,” Meling said.
Meling calls himself a problem solver who is able to look at things from all angles. He gets the satisfaction of being able to fix what others can’t. And his ability to fix cars has enabled him to have nice vehicles throughout his life.
He is currently driving a 2000 Dodge Intrepid with more than 340,000 miles on it. He paid just $500 for it and he said it runs great. Meling has learned if you are willing to put in the work, you’ll get to have nice things for a long time.