Steven’s Story

Everyone loves a good story but to know the truth and feelings behind the humble beginnings of a company is very important to know.  Below is the life story and history of Steven Paul the President and Senior Vehicle Inspector of Test Drive Technologies.  Below you will discover where and how Steven’s love for cars began and what drives him today and why people across the globe choose Test Drive Technologies as their trusted vehicle inspection source.

Steven Paul and his Mother Gail Smith
Steven Paul at the age of 4 and his Mother Gail Smith – 1982

Growing up in the car industry or as a car guy leads to many interest. One of the main interest that Steven has always maintained is his love for muscle cars and street rods.  Steven’s late father Thomas Paul owned a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner when Steven was very young which is what really sparked Steven’s interest in cars.  From there it go even deeper into his veins as his dad and uncles took him to the Street Machine Nationals in DuQuoin, Illinois when it was still the real Illinois State Fair Grounds and it was a huge show.   Steven’s late mother Gail Smith and her father Wayne were always big dirt track stock car racing fans (because dirt is where the big boys play).  So growing up at the circle track was where it all really happened.  Steven was selected at the ”

Photo Courtesy of Gateway Vintage Racing Association

Junior Fan Club” winner one Friday night at Pevely, Missouri I-55 Speedway which has since been named the Federated I-55 Speedway.  Steven’s first choice of driver was Mike Hammerle from St Charles, Missouri in the #16 Modified Car however, he had broken a rear axle that night.  Steven had to make a quick decision at 10 years old and went with his back-up favorite Bobby Bittle in the #89 Sportsman Car from Belleville Autobody.  That night changed Steven’s life from then on as he got to ride on the back deck of the #89 Sportsman Car (now classed as a B-Modified).  That night Steven busted his nose on the rear roof of the car in turn 3 but that didn’t stop him from smiling big for the camera with a bloody face.

Steven visiting Bobby Bittle at I-55 Speedway after the races.
Steven visiting Bobby Bittle at I-55 Speedway after the races.

That same night, Steven, his mom Gail and a couple friends were invited to the body shop while the car was unloaded and worked on.  Steven had been investigating the shop and decided to pick up a broom and cleaned up a bit of body and paint dust. From there out Steven spent as much time in the body shop as he could on Fridays after school and on the weekends where he learned the invaluable art of inspecting, estimating and sanding on cars.

 

Steven in his Class A's the day of the E-5 Board
Steven in his Class A’s the day of the E-5 Board

In 1994 Steven’s mom Gail passed away just after he turned 16 and he moved to Carbondale with his dad thus leaving 6 years of working at the body shop behind.  Steven continued to keep up with hot rods, street rods and muscle cars as well as the dirt track circuit as much as he could but Steven’s love for baseball took him into high school.  In the fall of 1997, Steven was blessed with a wife and beautiful little daughter Joelle and soon joined the United States Army as a heavy equipment technician.  Serving 6 years as technician wasn’t as easy as he thought. After a tour to Bosnia just before the bombs dropped on Kosovo, a tour in Kuwait while 9/11 happened back home and a final tour in Iraq as the Big Red One followed the 1st Marines into Baghdad.  Steven’s fate was sealed when he lost his best friend and brother in arms as a roadside bomb ripped apart his battle buddy’s truck as Steven was driving the truck directly behind it.  That day Steven suffered a great loss as his battle buddy and best friend died in his arms while being choppered back to a base camp.  Soon thereafter, Steven left the United States Army after 6 years, several awards and certifications and reentered the civilian workforce.

Steven inspecting a Peterbilt 378 Sleeper Cab for a client in Austin, Texas.
Steven inspecting a Peterbilt 378 Sleeper Cab for a client in Austin, Texas.

Starting out at the bottom of the totem pole was not going to be an easy task. With as much training, knowledge and experience that Steven had received while in the Army rebuilding and repairing engines, transmissions and components it was hard for him to work his way back from the bottom changing oil but he knew he had to start somewhere.  In no time, Steven found himself working at Beelman Truck Company in East St Louis as a mechanic and parts manager and soon worked up to Purchasing and Warranty Manager.  About 2 years later Steven realized that his love for automobiles was pulling at his heart strings so he made a move to AutoVIN which is the vehicle inspection arm of Adesa Auto Auctions.  There Steven was a field manager for the St Louis area and Southern Illinois providing arbitration inspections as well as lease return inspections as well as pre-purchase inspections for the well-known online auction company eBay whilst he worked his way through college.

Steven Appraising a 1966 Pontiac GTO at the 2017 GTO National Convention
Steven Appraising a 1966 Pontiac GTO at the 2017 GTO National Convention

In July of 2009, Steven had to present a business plan in one of his course. After his presentation, a young lady named Darcy asked Steven to help her with picking out a safe and reliable used vehicle. At that point in time Test Drive Technologies Vehicle Inspection Services was born. To date Steven has inspected 1000’s of vehicles ranging from $1500 to over $1,000,000 in values from used cars, classic cars, collector cars, antiques and of course heavy equipment and commercial vehicles.  For a long time Steven refused to provide values with pre-purchase inspections. This was mainly because he strongly believed in the philosophy of Publilius Syrus which he said “Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”.  However, after much thought and request Steven began to provide values and also became certified by the ASCAA to provide automobile appraisals.  Steven has appraised vehicles well over $1,000,000 for courts, individuals as well as dealerships in both Missouri and Illinois.