Where it All Began | Mike D’Anniballe

The engine shop, laboratory and testing facility are going very well at Sterling Performance these days. Maybe it was the same words thrust on Mike D’Anniballe that were shared with you in your startup business.

With a mechanical engineering background by education, it wasn’t until many years after school, that he went out on his own. In 1989, he started in his garage, while also working as an engineer for McLaren. He worked on countless projects and learned a lot of stuff about a lot of things. He eventually took an opportunity to move off on my own.

“I remember specifically, sitting down and discussing the move with my dad. He’s ultimately the one that talked me into it and to go for it. He said, you are single, you don’t have any kids, what’s the worst that will happen… you go broke and move home?”

It was those innocuous comments that sold him on pulling the trigger to start his own a business.

His first job was Don Q’ Rum and to take their underperforming engine program to a new level. The Serrallés family from Ponce, Puerto Rico, took a chance on him to make it happen. They wrote a check, he built the engines and the success came for them both. After that point, Mike was introduced to Peter Hledin.

“I always used to say the Serrallés family took a chance on me and Peter made us famous. His boats were great and it was a great relationship.”

After that, more boat owners came to me and I had to find a building.

He was thankful for the good fortunes with his new boat customers and for McLaren. McLaren offered Mike help after his departure from their company. It was then years later that he expanded beyond boat building into component testing for manufacturers.

Two of the guys that Mike had worked with at McLaren were working for other companies that were involved with component testing. One day they came to talk. They said there’s a good opportunity in evaporative emissions. Mike said, “great… what’s that?”.

They explained to Mike what it was and might have to do the testing for Ford Motor Company. So Mike talked to a project engineer at Ford, who he knew and asked the question again, “what is evaporative emissions?”

The engineer did a little digging and found the guy that does the work in the evaporative division of Ford. Ford then called Mike and asked him to come talk to them. He met with them and they wanted to know where he was three years ago, “that’s a good feeling.” Mike’s little green light came on. That’s when he started the laboratory. After that, he never looked back!

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