Valpo-land native, Jeff Degeneffe, has learned to perfect the balance of work and passion. He, in fact, has almost intermingled the two, as he puts equal energy towards both, never ceasing to impress his main competition: himself.
As a technician for Team Chevy, his position constantly pulls to the tides of the ever-changing car industry. Aside from his daytime job, Degeneffe spends much of his time training for upcoming running events and just recently completed The Chicago Marathon with his wife.
After graduating from Valparaiso High School in 1985, Degeneffe landed a job at Team Chevy in 1988 and has been a part of the Valparaiso community ever since.
“A month ago, marked my 30 years at Team Chevy,” Degeneffe said. “I never expected it.
"I have always had an interest in cars. I started here just washing floors and cars, general duties. They were looking for an apprentice, and they asked me to do it. Now, I’m sitting with you right now, thirty years later.”
Most of Degeneffe’s duties are repairing people's cars when they are broken, but as anyone knows, the fast-evolving car industry is anything but simple.
“I repair cars nonstop. All day every day, six days a week. However, things are always changing, commonly every two to three periods.”
“What I did three years ago, I’m not doing now. What I’m doing today, I will not be doing tomorrow. It goes in cycles,” Degeneffe expressed. “I am always learning as technology is moving things along. Manufacturers are also producing more advanced cars, so car buyers have no choice but to buy them.”
Cars are serious business, especially when it comes to repair. With advancements, comes new parts and new training. Here’s what Degeneffe had to say when it comes to what he believes is one of the most outstanding car evolutions of his time:
“Electric cars, now, with no engines in them. That is our future, and we are seeing more and more of that.”
When it comes to safety and training, Degeneffe insists that car information and updates be shared between repairman and car owner.
“There is a lot to learn with the safety aspect of it. People are always interested in what you are doing to their vehicle,” Degeneffe said. “You always teach, and you always learn. I keep myself open, because you can learn from anyone. Sometimes, you even learn from your kids.”
In his spare time, Degeneffe spends time with his family and trains with his wife for upcoming running events throughout the Northwest Indiana region.
“I joined Extra Mile training group this past June and did my first, full marathon, the Chicago Marathon,” Degeneffe said. “I started running about six years ago, doing 10k’s, 5k’s, half marathons - starting small in the runners’ world.”
“My wife and I ran one of the biggest marathons in the world in the rain and cold. When we crossed the finish line, it was the best feeling. It’s so loud, and there are just so many people,” Degeneffe said. “You have goosebumps, even though your legs are mush from the race.
Degeneffe and his wife are already signed up for next year’s Chicago Marathon but won’t find out if they made the cut until December.
“Everyone has a reason for why they run. Like health, or if they have a time to beat, for a cause, or want to run with their other half; there are all sorts of different goals,” Degeneffe said. “For me, I am a time guy. I like the challenge and seeing if I can beat my time. I don’t race against people, I race against myself.”
He mentioned that running is more accessible to fans and family with apps that track runners along the course. This can build momentum for runners if they know fans will be at a certain pin point.
“What is cool about being a runner is when you run with a group of people, fans support and root for you. There is also support through the coaching staff and trainee’s at Extra Mile. Just knowing that they are there gives you more momentum,” Degeneffe said.
Degenefee has advice for those thinking about running:
“Get running. Start off slow. Just start by running one time a week, then twice the next week. Pick a race one or two months down the road.”
It is clear that Degenefee has found a healthy synergy between family, passionate hobbies, and work life.
“I have lots of security where I am at, and many great people around me. I live in a positive environment. In the end, it always comes back to the people,” Degeneffe said. “I’m very lucky to have an awesome wife, and strong children who are going in the right direction. I hope that a little of that has to do with me.”