Once can safely say that Steve Van Kessel grew up in this business.
A partner in Parry Automotive with his sister Susan Peacock, the Orillia, Ont., native learned by his father Peter’s side.
And even though it didn’t start out as his father’s business—it was founded by the Parry family—Steve Van Kessel says it feels very much like a third generation family business as his father started in it at age 17, before taking over the business outright in the mid-1970s.
Steve and his sister Susan returned the favour starting in the 1990s and today a happily retired Peter Van Kessel continues to be a welcome presence in the business.
“It was an amazing succession. It’s nice to have someone to talk to. He might have tried something in 1965 that might still work today,” says Steve.
But alongside the dedication to the aftermarket business, Steve has been working on his musical aspirations for decades. He and his wife Marni, who shares his musical leanings, have just released their second album “Terms and Conditions.”
For Steve, the musical journey began with his first guitar at 11, but he says he remained a “closet troubadour” into his late teens.
“I would do open mic nights and jam with friends. I started writing songs but didn’t have the confidence to share them. I had a collection that found a drawer and never emerged again.”
It’s not a strong lament though. He focused on career, and business, and family.
“And to get the foundation to where I wanted. So the music took a backseat and the guitar got some dust. But in about the last 10 years the kids got to a certain age and there was a bit more time to revive that passion and with my wife being musical as well, we find the time and are having some fun with it.
“We released an album in 2014 with our band VK and the Narrows ‘Doing just fine,’ and the ‘Terms and Conditions’ album coming out now.
“It’s an Americana Folk Roots album. It’s really based on life experience and observation. There are a few songs that have come from one place. My brother in law has been battling ALS for the past five yeas. There are a few songs on the album that just deal with the challenges that I have seen them go through and the inspiration that he’s brought t to everyone around him.
“I think it’s a pretty honest album. It’s about life, it’s about love, and it’s about death. Its about everything we face every day.”
He sees a strong connection between his music and his life in business.
“To me, if you are to be successful, you have to have that thing that can take you away from a stressful situation. I find music incredibly rewarding that way. It takes me to a place that removes me from everything else and when I come back I am fully engaged. “
And it helps him work through business decisions.
“Quite often inspiration to solve a problem comes from putting it at the back of your mind. Picking up the guitar and working out arrangements can somehow help me find solutions to problems in a way I couldn’t otherwise.
“I say the music completely fills my tank for the professional business aspect of my life and the business aspect keeps me engaged in the music. The music industry can be challenging to deal with on a daily basis too.
“To have the two working together really keeps things in check.”
Have a passion outside of the business that helps you be successful? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.