Michael Pair: Hobby Turned Career

"Learn one thing a day, whether it’s in the classroom, on the way to school or on the way home. Keep an open mind to learn things."


From a young age, Mike has had a curiosity about how things work. He has always loved taking things apart and putting them back together to understand how the different parts work together.

Mike’s father worked on cars, which inspired him to do the same. His first love was motorcycles--but it didn’t take long for him to get into cars. When he was 16, he bought his first car: a 1956 Chevrolet. The motor and transmission were blown, but he did everything himself to rebuild it.

Mike’s love for the auto industry snowballed from there. He started getting into the world of high performance vehicles. He bought a ‘69 Firebird, and by the time he was 20, he had another ‘56 Chevy he would take to the drag strip to race on weekends. Mike also developed a love for hot rods.

When he set out to pursue a career, Mike got his start in parts stores. For a period of time, he got away from the auto industry and did factory work. He also got into truck driving. However, his passion for cars remained. Working on cars was his hobby, and it was something he always found himself going back to.

It wasn’t until Mike landed a job working as a mechanic at a hot rod shop that he got back into the industry. He ended up working at the shop for 15 years, outlasting the original owner!

Mike loved working at the hot rod shop—but he craved something more. He decided it was time for a career change, so he applied for an instructor position at UTI Lisle! He realized that he had already been teaching UTI students who were working at the shop part-time, so it was a natural fit.

When Mike toured the UTI campus, he was completely taken aback. “I didn’t realize there was this much knowledge existing in the school,” he says.

Today, Mike teaches performance classes and the basic entry engine class. His true passion is hot rods. His favorite part about teaching is the impact he makes in the lives of his students. “I feel like I’m making a slight change in the world,” he says.

Mike always strives to create an environment of learning for his students. He tells them, “Learn one thing a day, whether it’s in the classroom, on the way to school or on the way home. Keep an open mind to learn things.” He strives to provide his students with a foundation of knowledge they can build upon as they go into the field and pursue a career.

Mike’s passion for the industry isn’t confined to the classroom—he has a garage full of hot rods and cars that he’s constantly working on. He has vehicles he takes to car shows and brings to UTI to involve his students.

For Mike, this industry is a way of life. He loves what he does so much that it doesn’t feel like a job! His experiences are proof that when you have a passion and set your mind to something, anything is possible.


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