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Automotive Experience: The Gift that Akash Cheeda Can Keep on Giving

Akash Cheeda is grateful for the opportunities he’s had to build his experience and skillsets in the automotive industry. He’s created a recruitment agency to ensure others have the same opportunities and now he’s sharing his talents with the Piston Foundation

By Jeff Mason

February 17, 2022

My background and passion is with classic Porsches and I am a big fan of classic cars. As a teenager, I started as an apprentice with a shop that specializes in Porsche parts. I was very fortunate to be in that position and meet people, especially so because the garage next door also specialized in Porsches. I would always volunteer to deliver parts there and, over time, became friends with the owner. I could ask questions and he’d answer them, so I learned. I loved that opportunity so much that I’d go to the garage every Saturday and hang around. Joe, the founder, started teaching me some things and then started to trust me with fixing a few cars. Ten years later, I still go to that garage and am still friends with Joe. It’s amazing what you can build when you have a shared passion.

I connected with Jeff Mason, president and COO of the Piston Foundation, over La Carrera Panamericana but soon discovered we have a shared goal — to keep classic cars on the road and enjoyed. We’ve both heard a lot about how young people don’t want to get into this industry and, since garages are finding it hard to hire good staff, some people wonder if it might actually be true. But, Jeff and I agreed, based on our experiences, that young men and women do want to be part of this. We also agreed that, unless you got lucky like I did, it’s difficult to find a way into the industry.

Creating a Way to Help Others Get Into the Industry

My own career path led me to start a recruitment agency called Marc Brunel Recruitment, to fill the need for garages but, more importantly, to show people the way in and help those who like classic cars but just don’t know where to go.

Just as I discovered I could offer my recruitment skills and experience to companies in the UK, I’ve found I can help the Piston Foundation put together a program to identify the best candidates. The US and UK have a few things in common. For too long, the idea of helping people find their way to this work has been brushed off. But, there comes a point where we have to do something about the lack of skilled people. We have to find a new way of approaching a problem that’s become old.

Learning from Success in the UK

The Association of Heritage Engineers (AoHE) has been working in the UK for the past several years to do something about our problem. We’re at a point now where automotive companies see the value in what we’re doing and want to be part of that. The Piston Foundation can ramp up quickly, learning from AoHE, as we work together to address the need for people who know what they’re doing with classic cars.

That’s my connection with the Piston Foundation; get young people into this industry. We can blow up the myth that classic cars are either really high-end or something really beat down. A classic car to a young person today could be an old BMW 3 Series that their family drove. We can show everyone that there’s a lot more out there than we assume.

Recruiting for Dream Jobs

Since I started my recruitment business five years ago, I have seen a significant increase in the number of candidates. The pandemic had an impact, what with people stuck home tinkering on their cars and saving money because they weren’t going on holiday. The secondhand car market went through the roof and sparked a lot of interest. 2021 was the busiest year we’ve ever had and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.

As a vehicle restoration recruitment consultancy, Marc Brunel Recruitment specializes in classic cars and historic motorsport, filling all roles in the industry from hands-on work to sales and marketing to management. Our clients range from small garages all the way up to large organizations that build bespoke vehicles in custom workshops. Word of mouth and print ads still work but we’re also using technology like LinkedIn, social media and our own opinion blogs. Because we’re niche, we’re not filling any old role but dream jobs.

That may be the most rewarding part about what I do for a living and why I continue to love it: people who find the right job are over the moon to be doing this work. Employment is life changing, especially if it’s the right career path for them. We spend a lot of time at work and for someone to land his or her dream role with a pay rise experiences an amazing feeling. I get to be part of that.

We Are a Global Car Community

There was a young guy who’d finished his apprenticeship with a Porsche dealership and was looking for an adventure overseas. I had a role in China, where a company was looking for someone to head up their new collector car division. The plan was for a three-stage interview, starting with HR and then the tech manager before a Zoom with the CEO. The guy’s enthusiasm impressed HR so much, she phoned the CEO and said, “Hire this guy now.” He’s maybe 20 years old and is flown to America to meet the CEO at the Quail Motorsport Gathering, gets the job, and is sent to Germany to train with RUF Automobile. I spoke to him recently and he’s now the technical manager in Beijing. I told him I’m a bit envious – he’s getting the adventure he always wanted.

Loving What I Do

I’m lucky to be able to combine my passion with my job: I get to indulge in my affinity for Porsche. In January 2022, I founded Stuttgart Legends, sourcing parts for classic and modern models. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and allows me to be involved in the industry in a different way with a global market. We recently had an inquiry from a collector in Kuwait! It’s incredible and, without the opportunities I’ve had through the industry, I wouldn’t have met so many people, created such a large network, and, honestly, made so many good friends.

Jeff is one of these friends and, as I meet more members of the Piston Foundation team, I’m making more friends. Like I said, I was really fortunate. I had the opportunity to gain knowledge and notice that, when you’re passionate about something, you give it your all. I’ve been able to grow my early experience to have a great life in the world of classic cars and make sure other people have the same chance I did.

Marc Brunel Recruitment: website, Instagram, Linkedin

Stuttgard Legends: website, Instagram

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