Zach Black isn’t a super hero, though his name sounds suitable for one. He does, however, know how to balance his love of extreme sports with family life and a successful business.
As a life-long fan of extreme sports, Black has several childhood friends who have gone on to gain professional sponsorships from Red Bull and Fuel, and many of his closest Lowcountry friends include him in the high-octane watersports in the area.
As a child, as a teen, and now as a 37-year-old man, Black has always loved the outdoor thrills that life has to offer. From ATV off-roading and rock climbing out West, to jet skiing and water jet packing on Hilton Head, he’s always looking for the next rush.
Black made the move to Hilton Head in the early 2000s and settled into what he knew: machines. He was a long-term employee in the automotive industry and loved working with cars. Growing up as a teenager in Boulder, Colo., he would work on every vehicle he could get his hands on.
He has always had a passion for “anything that goes fast,” he said. When he wasn’t rock climbing with his buddies, he would work with cars, bikes – any engine he could.
There’s an aspect of fear and adventure to working with machines, but Black said that conquering the extremes of life builds confidence and makes him feel in control. For most of Black’s life, he had been in control – until the economic crisis of 2007.
When the economy shook, the business he worked for took a hit. Black said he felt the control over his life shake, too. It was as if he was at the will of the “unknown.” He and his wife, Chelsea, felt they were solid, but uncertainty about income was concerning.
So, he called his father in Arizona. They talked about work, life – and the “unknown.”
His father had heard of a growing screen-installation company out West and mentioned it to his son. Black followed up and did some research, then discovered he could develop his own branch of the company in the Bluffton/Hilton Head Island area.
After thinking over the decision and discussing it with his wife for nearly two years, the couple took a leap of faith to start a satellite business for Screenmobile in 2009.
“It can be rough (starting your own business),” he said, “(but) it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.” After a week out in California to observe and discuss business practices and another six weeks in Bluffton prepping and starting the business, everything clicked. And it boomed.
Although Black now works more hours than he did in the automotive industry, he has learned about time management and has more time than ever before to enjoy his extreme hobbies. He is in the midst of building an extreme rock wall on the side of his house.
When asked about his love of the extreme and his and Chelsea’s decision to take the private-business risk, Black said “Doing it for myself … I feel in control and unlimited.”
Black’s passion for rock-climbing helped him conquer a life-long fear of heights, so it makes sense that starting his business helped him overcome his fear of the “unknown.”
Black encourages others to seek out the balance in life. “You need a vehicle,” he said. And no, he doesn’t mean an ATV. “Find your passion, make money,” he said, “but do them separately.”
Black explains that he loves cars, but it takes the joy out of his passion when it becomes tied to a paycheck. The goal is to build a business and let your passions exist in a place without the restrictions of work.
It has taken focus, daring and confidence to seek out their extreme balance, but Zach and Chelsea Black have done that very thing.
Maybe he is a super hero after all.
Cisco Ferre of Hilton Head Island is a freelance writer.