A Discussion with John Lopez, Director of Operations for GCH Long Block Racing, About Motivation, Leadership, and the Importance of Family

Image Commercially Licensed from: Depositphotos
Image Commercially Licensed from: Depositphotos

A resident of Los Angeles, California, John Lopez is Master Machinist and the Director of Operations for GCH Long Block Racing, a company built by previous generations of the family and handed down to John and Gabe by their father. Originally a shop that built custom hot rods, GCH Long Block Racing has evolved in its business model since its inception in the 1970’s and now builds Subaru engines and sells them to Subaru owners, mechanics, and other Subaru enthusiasts. 

John Lopez attended the WASC, where he earned his State Academic Credited Achievements as a State-Certified Master Machinist. He is viewed by his peers as an expert in his chosen field.

Why did you create your own business?

Although I didn’t create the business, it has been in my family for generations. I inherited the running of GCH Long Block Racing as a legacy, and the trust my family has placed in me to make sure it not only survives but thrives and expands is something I take tremendously seriously. Now, as Director of Operations, I believe that I’ve brought experience and hard-earned credibility to my role. In fact, under mine and Gabe’s stewardship, production has been brought up by as much as 35%. I also credit the business skills that I’ve accrued in my career for making the company more profitable, as well as more efficient and customer service-oriented. Additionally, I personally oversee our work on every engine, so each and every one of our customers gets the best experience possible.

What do you love the most about the industry you are in?

Knowing that I have built thousands of engines in thousands of vehicles makes me feel amazing!

What keeps you motivated?

My family keeps me going. Knowing that my father wanted us to inherit the business and trained us for it definitely motivates me. Building the best engines, running the business, and keeping my team happy and feeling fulfilled, all the while keeping the customers happy has been something of a challenge. But when you’re in the business of making people happy, it’s difficult not to be happy, as well. 

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

The company first started as Covina Engine Rebuilding back in the 70’s. We built hot rods back then. We now build high-tech, high-performance Subaru engines, so it’s changed and grown quite a bit. 

If you could change one thing in the beginning of your career what would it be?

The only thing I regret is that I wish I would’ve paid more attention to certain things when I was a kid.

Who has been your role model and why?

My father has been my role model, both in business and in life. I truly value and treasure remembering the lessons he taught me.

What makes you a successful leader?

I believe that being a better student has made me a better leader. Leaders are not born, they are made. Leaders pay attention to other voices, decide the best course of action, then they take the first steps for others to follow. I do my best to observe this model for leadership.

What is your biggest accomplishment? 

GCH Long Block Racing once built an engine for a flying car on the other side of the world. That was a great achievement, and the magnitude of the job shows just how much the client trusted us.

What was the hardest obstacle you have overcome? 

I have had many hard obstacles in life, but we all have. So, when life knocks you down, GET UP! Some may take longer to recover, but it is monumentally important to get up!

What is one piece of advice you have never forgotten?

My dad, who has been my biggest inspiration, once told me: “Son, there’s always somebody better than you.” Implicit in that statement is accepting the things in life you cannot change.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others? 

It’s always wise to remain humble as possible. Also, no one ever went wrong observing the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

What is the biggest life lesson you learned?

As we grow, so does the company. So I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is if you’re looking in the rear-view mirror, you’re never going to move forward.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person? 

Outside of work, I am a loving husband, father, son, and brother. I enjoy helping others, flying planes, driving my Subaru, and leading by example.

Where do you see you and your company in five years? 

I see us achieving great success. Currently, I’m quietly looking around for investors in order to facilitate our continued growth. Eventually, I want to put GCH Long Block Racing on the public market. It is my great hope that one day our stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Although it may take a few months to put together, I’m planning our initial public offering.

Explain the proudest day of your professional life. 

Even though I couldn’t see it at the time, it was the day that the company was passed down to me. That was the proudest day of my professional life.


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