14 Shop Profile • Auto Definitions D o what you love, the saying goes, and you will never work a day in your life. This can easily be dismissed as a trite platitude, a cliche that you’d find inside a fortune cookie, but for Joel Smith and his young crew of automotive specialists at Auto Definitions in Claremore, Oklahoma, it’s their mission in life. “We all have the same dream. Everybody at the shop is in it for the long haul,” Smith said. Centered around faith, family, and a true passion for what they do, the AutoDefinitions team from America’s heartland is beginning to garner respect and recognition for their customwork on a global level, with their 2019 RAM1500 featured at the 2018 SEMA Show. They’re one of the Sooner State’s leading aftermarket retailers and installers and have a passion for personalized truck and Jeep ® builds. By the looks of things at Auto Definitions, if doing what you love means you’re not working, then these guys put in countless hours a week, yet are completely unemployed. And that’s exactly the way they like it. The Beginning of a Long Journey Have you ever noticed that so many paths to a business’ success are crooked lines? They wind through back roads full of potholes and dead ends. Auto Definitions’ origin is one such story. Though it’s been in existence for over 26 years, the business has been under Smith’s ownership since the summer of 2017. In just two years, Auto Definitions is busier than ever and continues to flourish under new leadership, but Smith didn’t always know this was his path in life. As a teen enrolled in a high school work program, Smith was able to “job out” and land an unpaid position shadowing at Auto Definitions. When the previous owner wasn’t in a financial position to offer him a paid position post graduation, Smith continued to show up anyway… for no money, weeks and weeks on end. Smith, who viewed the owner as a mentor, polished his skills under the industry veteran’s guidance and as fate would have it, shortly thereafter a spot opened up in the shop. Smith was hired and stayed with Auto Definitions for almost two years, learning the business inside and out. Surprisingly, this is not where the story ends. Something else was calling him, though he was not sure what. Smith had more life paths to explore before a long-term commitment was made. A man of devout faith, Smith originally left AutoDefinitions for an opportunity within his church. And for roughly the next seven years, would continue to try and figure out where in this universe he fit best. At one point, Smith even worked as a deputy sheriff and in the jail. He tried his hand at sales, and even a gig in the field of fiber optics. And throughout such a journey, Smith always remained involved as a volunteer firefighter. Answering a True Calling “I was so set on finding my purpose and calling,” Smith said. “I knew I had one. I was just trying to narrow it down, so that I could put full force into it.” Though he left all of these jobs on good terms, he struggled to find what he felt was his true place and prayed on it regularly. Finally, that sign came in the form of a phone call. His former boss at Auto Definitions wanted to know if he was serious about buying the place. Smith always thought he’d love to own the shop. He still built Jeeps ® in his free time and did some decent work out of his home garage, but the logistics seemed financially impossible. This time, however, something felt different. Smith went to banks and family members, jumping through all the legal hoops. He worked out the details over a difficult nine- month span. As everything started to come together, Smith knew he found what he was meant to do. “Each month was crazy,” he admitted, “but eachmonth, I felt God showed me why I went through what I did.” Assembling a Dream Team With the certainty of mind, he found his life’s endeavor. Smith rolled up his sleeves and got to work making Auto Definitions his own. He brought in a bigger crew to take on more specialized projects. The entire staff is under 30 and passionate about everything they do, earning them a Dream Team nickname. “I have an amazing team behind me,” he said proudly. Whatever you call them, there’s a long list of industry professionals and customers who stand by the quality of work that comes out of the shop. Locals say they’ve never seen the place so full, with a parking lot jammed to capacity every day. In fact, Auto Definitions is so well respected that there’s a year-round estimated two-week waiting list just to get your ride in the shop. It doesn’t seem to be deterring customers because these guys do their jobs with care, an effort that is reflected in the sheer volume of business they handle. “We just want to show everyone what our passion is, and help people,” said Smith. “We’re taking it up a notch. We’re doing more custom things.” And those custom projects are really starting tomake an impact on the industry. A Bright Future Ahead Last year, Auto Definitions had three separate builds featured at the 2018 Keystone Automotive BIG Show, an almost unheard of distinction, and they used this national stage to demonstrate their skills to all those in attendance. A JK was front and center at the Iron Cross Automotive booth, with the company’s fender flares, stubby bumper, rear tire carrier stubby, 37×12.50×17 MAXXIS RAZR tires, and a 4” short arm lift. The other, a 2014 Jeep ® JKU for the Maxxis booth, started out as a stock JKU Sahara. “We added Rubicon axles with artec trusses, Rugged Ridge differential covers, a 6” short arm lift with Fox Shocks, and 40×13.50×17 MAXXIS RAZR M/T tires. There was a custom cut-out with true 32-bolt bead locks and welded rings, as well as an Iron Cross Automotive front stubby bumper and rear