Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Imhoff.
Steve, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Before I started NControl, I was a professional race car driver for about 13 years, that’s what I did. Eat, sleep and breath racing along with working as one of the chef Instructors at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, located in Chandler and during that same time I was competing on all different circuits thought the US., tracks like Road America, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and even the Long Beach Grand Prix and many more climbing that racing ladder when I eventually I got into the CART champ car series in the Atlantic pro formula cars. (Picture included) That came to an end however, when sponsors don’t have the budgets to operate the teams never ending thirst of dollars to operate those cars. So with no teams to drive for and a house, wife and three kids to provide for, I had to quickly adjust. So I started looking at opportunities in the driving industry, obviously and at about the same time there just happened to be a pretty big accident that I saw on the news involving a teen driver and it made a lot of press, unfortunately. I started looking into it as far as the training these kids are getting today, because the skid that particular teen got into was easily controllable if they knew the techniques. What I found out was shocking. Most school today don’t even offer drivers’ ed, they leave that burden to the parents and most parents don’t have the time and if they do that driving lesson usually turn into a scream session and everyone gets out of the car stressed out not ever wanting to drive again.
That’s when I started NControl, but I knew that just your basic drivers’ ed wasn’t cutting it. Problems still existed and crashes still happened. I wanted to approach this differently.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No. If it was easy, everyone would do it right, is that the saying. There were a number of obstetrical’s. For one just starting the company, getting the proper licenses, certificates and insurance you don’t just start teaching students how to drive. The state has a lot of requirements you must satisfy before that can happen and rightfully so.
Now you have this new company started, all you need is customers. A lot of knocking on doors, High School doors to be exact, doing presentations handing out brochures and promoting the company and on top of that having to teach each of our customers how to drive. At first I was doing everything answering phone calls, booking students, teaching each student, paying all the bills, negotiating contracts, setting everything up at our Car Control Class and then tearing it down after we were done, just about every weekend putting in on average around 14 to 18 hr. of work each day.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that recession thing we had to go thru. That was tough, it drained our savings just trying to keep the company afloat.
But the company started to grow and my wife started to work for the company handling all of the office operations as I focused on the students and it kept growing at a steady rate of about 30% a year.
Staying focused on the students’ performance.
Please tell us about NControl Driving School.
You can tell by the name that we teach drivers’ education, but with a different spin on it, literally. That’s what separates us from all of the other driving schools, is our SKID VEHICLE. We are the only school that utilizes this valuable tool to teach teens the proper way of handling the skids that can happen while you’re driving. So not only do they get to experience the skids in a safe and controlled area but what techniques it’s going to take to get the car back NControl.
With my back ground in racing and working with a lot of different manufacturers I understand the importance of getting properly fitted to a vehicle and how the vehicles have evolved over the years to teach students the proper methods so they’re better protected in the cars and that’s just the beginning. We work on interpreting intersection and being aware of the HOT spot or threats that exist while driving through them. Setting the vehicle up properly for a corner, there’s many things you ca do to improve visibility, arc of the corner and control not to mention adjusting the mirrors properly to eliminate your blind spots.
One of our biggest accomplishments was being recognized by Consumer Reports for our Car Control Class. We are the only Driving School in Arizona to receive this. Consumer Reports did an article on teen driving and received a lot of feedback from parents on the different ways they’re approaching drivers’ ed. Many of the parents are sending their kids through these advance driving schools that focus on car control techniques to help them understand the dynamic of a vehicle and how it will really perform if a situation happens in front of them in a safe and controlled environment. Well, Consumer Reports were so shock by what they had found, they did their own study on two separate groups of teens. One group just did your normal drivers ‘ed program and the other did the advance driving program and Consumer Reports followed them for a year and found that the kids that went through the advance driving program were 70% – 80% less likely to get into accident in their first year of driving over the kids that had just the normal drivers’ ed program. After learning about this, Consumer Reports did a directory of all of the schools that do these more advance driving courses and that is when NControl Driving School was recognized for our efforts. Pretty cool.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Probably going to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time with my dad and brothers.
Seeing the car and hearing the roars of the engines, the smell of methanol burning through the exhaust. You don’t get that watching it on TV.
- Address: 1663 E Ray Rd.