Editor’s Note – After writing pretty much every post on this site I found the #1 problem is to write about myself. Recently Kristin Shaw has written a few posts and she surprised me with an interview yesterday right before the Sketchbattle – this is the result. And while you might not see me front and center at the event, that doesn’t mean I am a silent or absent partner. My passion for automobiles, design, charity and Detroit burn deep, and this event is the perfect outlet for my energies. Thank you Kristin for your work on the event and for creating this exposé.
The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiement exposes a side of the auto industry rarely seen – the creative process in action. MSBEXP explores the creative process by focusing on competition, thus including all players in the game, from artists to manufacturers to customers. The expertise of the event comes from automotive veteran, Frank Schwartz. Schwartz founded (AACS) Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, an Ann Arbor-based business development consultancy for the automotive supply base.
Frank is a life-long automotive enthusiast. “By the age of three, my parents told me I could tell every make and model on the road both here and in Europe,” Frank said. Frank was born in Germany but received his education in the states. After graduating high-school (where Michael Jordan was a classmate,) Frank attended school at Cape Fear Tech in North Carolina and without any information or support on car design, he pursued a career in architecture. It was the collapse of the housing market in the 80’s that prompted his change to the engineering program at North Carolina State. After spending some time working in the nuclear power industry, Frank knew his passion lied elsewhere, and found a job as a cruise control engineer.
After spending time working in the industry, Frank was able to combine his passion for cars, his drive to solve problems, and his business mindset in one model – Advanced Automotive Consulting Services. With both companies, Frank always is looking for the hardest problems to solve. AACS advises Tier I and Tier II auto suppliers on corporate strategy, product evolution, business development and marketing. AACS has special expertise in appearance-related products, which is why they work so closely with the design community.
Frank’s find the biggest challenge about working in the automotive industry is working with people without passion. It was Frank’s love of cars that brought him to Detroit in 1991. He had heard and read about the glory of Auto Shows, but didn’t attend until 1992. He recalls this experience to be life-changing.
The automotive industry is constantly changing, even if it appears it is on a pre-defined path. Frank thinks the industry will soon hit a fork in the road, and the next few years will define the future of automotive. “I preach to anyone who will listen to remain flexible and be ready for a left turn,” Frank said.
Frank’s favorite cars are the Porsche 917 by Pedro Rodriguez and the Plymouth Road Runner Superbird of Pete Hamilton. He attributes these being his favorites from spending 1971 split between North Carolina and Germany.
The majority of Frank’s personal collection of 11 cars is napping for the winter.” It can’t get warm soon enough for me,” Frank said.
Frank’s favorite part of working in the automotive industry is the people. He has called many places home, and hates the winter – but refuses to leave because it’s the best mixing pot of cultures and the community mindset he has found.