Corvette’s Chief Cheerleader shares his passion
Story Andy Bolig / Images Ed Baumgarten - February 04, 2014 09:30 AM
A 20-year-old Mike Yager made the leap from dreaming about cars to owning a dream car when he purchased his first Corvette.
Aware of the passion others like himself shared for cars such as the Corvette, Mike borrowed $500 in 1974 and began selling jackets, embroidered T-shirts, drinking glasses, owner's manuals, emblems and jewelry to the loyal Corvette constituency out of the trunk of a borrowed car. He was 24 years old.
Working weekend swap meets, Corvette specialty shows and other automotive functions, this energetic entrepreneur recognized the then unknown potential of selling automotive accessories to people, instead of just parts for cars. After all, it was people who shared Mike’s passion. Word quickly spread among Corvette enthusiasts that Mike offered quality products and exceptional customer care. Not surprisingly, his business grew rapidly.
Acknowledging that his part-time hobby now required his full attention, Mike created Mid America Enterprises in 1976, producing his first two-page, black-and-white mail order flyer. Today, Mid America Motorworks’ catalogs serve Corvette and Volkswagen enthusiasts. With the expansion from Corvette only to air-cooled VWs in 1998, Mid America Motorworks has grown to become the nation’s largest supplier of parts and accessories for air-cooled Volkswagens.
In January 2002, the company purchased a 36,000 square foot facility and began its Performance Choice manufacturing division. Performance Choice produces high quality interior products at the most reasonable prices within the industry, filling a void that Mike found when searching for a reliable source for seat covers, carpeting, and other interior components.
Mid America Motorworks now mails some 4.5 million Corvette and Volkswagen catalogs every year to customers worldwide. Catalogs are sent several times a year as new products are added to the growing list of hard parts, accessories and lifestyle items that allow enthusiasts to “pursue their passion” at Mid America Motorworks.
As Mid America Motorworks’ Chief Cheerleader, Mike’s schedule is understandably full. We did grab a few minutes of Mike’s time to ask him a few questions about him personally, his business and where he sees the collector car market heading in the future. Follow along as Mike gives his us some history, as well as the future has he sees it.
What started first, the entrepreneurial spirit or love for Corvettes?
Love of Corvettes! It was May 1963 and I was in the eighth grade. I was with my older brother, Frank, who at the time was our family’s Corvette fanatic, when we spotted that fateful 1962. We were actually on our way home from St. Louis, but I can remember precisely where the sighting took place – by the Pillsbury plant along the eastbound highway we were traveling. In my small hometown of Newton, Illinois, other than magazines, I had never seen a Corvette before this day, but from that point on the image would never leave my mind and heart.
The first time I saw a Corvette, it just clicked. It was the coolest thing I ever saw and I knew someday, I would own one.
Read the complete interview in the April issue of Cars & Parts, on sale Feb. 25