Meet Donald Jackson, a former US Air Force Combat Logistics Specialist turned professional performance automotive shop owner and racer. He is the only American-owned automotive performance shop on mainland Japan out of more than 76,000 Americans residing there.
Donald’s business, Pinku Style, provides high-quality support for sports cars, modifications, exporting services, sourcing services, and parts services. His shop has been featured in Japanese print multiple times and is connected to approximately 150 other automotive companies, giving him a vast network.
Despite being a one-man business, Donald’s results and speed are that of a company that has multiple employees with a large capital. He draws from his military career to run his shop with laser-focused determination, allowing him to excel over his local and international competition with calculated planning and hard boots-on-the-ground work.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Donald Jackson Jr.: I am Donald E Jackson Jr., an African-American Baltimore Maryland native born March 26, 1983 (39). Attended and graduated from Edmondson Westside High School with honors, where I also excelled as a multi-sport athlete in football, wrestling and a captain in lacrosse.
Post high school, I attended the University of Maryland College Park by way of a $90,000 scholarship via the Baltimore Incentive Awards Program. The award was given after competing with 10 other entrants from my high school in a competition that required me to write a two-page essay as to why I should receive the opportunity and what hardships I faced in my life.
While at University of Maryland, I became a walk-on athlete on the Division 1 football team as well as a member of the club lacrosse team. Following my 3rd year in college and after long decisions, I decided to return my scholarship and pursue my first path of joining the military as I lost interest in college shortly after leaving the football team.
Joining the United States Air Force (USAF) in 2006, I excelled immediately, earning multiple awards, servicing the USAF’s very top-ranking officials as an executive driver for two years operating in the greater DC area as a 2T1X1 Vehicle Operator Transportation Specialist.
In conjunction with all this, I served three combat tours in Iraq between 2007-2011 in support of OEF/OIF, where I earned honors and awards for exceptional performances and bravery in the eye of immediate danger while being attacked by insurgents, completing my missions and keeping my team safe.
I served three combat tours in Iraq between 2007-2011 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation Enduring Freedom, where I earned honors and awards for exceptional performances and bravery in the eye of immediate danger while being attacked by insurgents, completing my missions and keeping my team safe during 40+ combat convoy mission.
In 2008 I arrived in Misawa, Japan, which was something I had planned for when joining the military. In 2012 with my military career full steam ahead, surely placing me at the top of the ranks in due time, I decided to end my military career after my six-year enlistment contract was up.
My plans were to pursue what is now a career in professional performance automotive repair/modification and professional automotive racer.
Between 2012 and 2015, I was a contractor for the USAF, serving as an Air Traffic Ground Management Controller and F16 GPS Pod Loader. During my stint as a contractor, I felt a bit stagnant. While money was adequate, I wanted to be my own boss and launch many of the ideas that I had floating in my mind after careful observation of the local Misawa automotive market.
In 2015 after about 6-7 months of data gathering, I decided that my area could benefit from my skill sets in building and tuning sports cars.
With only $5000 to my name, I put that money down on my first building for 3 months’ rent and had less than 30 days to come up with the money for the next month. Flash forward 7 years; I am the ONLY American-owned automotive performance shop on mainland Japan out of 76,000+ Americans residing here.
My business, featured in Japanese print multiple times, is a one-man shop where I account for and provide everything. I am highly regarded within my field and have made many meaningful connections that will see my business flourish for many years to come.
Within my business, I provide high-quality support for sports cars, modifications, exporting services, sourcing services, and parts services. My business is connected to roughly 150 other automotive companies, which allows for a very vast network.
Finally, my company Pinku Style has produced my own automotive parts adding to the very robust industry.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Donald Jackson Jr.: I would describe my company as the polar opposite of what you would think of when you hear the term “Small Business.” While I am a singular-run business, my results and speed are that of a company that has multiple employees with large capital.
Drawing from my military career, my shop is run with a laser-focused determination with flexibility where required, which allows me to excel against my local and international competition with calculated planning and hard boots-on-the-ground work ethic.
My company differs from all others here as I am an American prior military logistics combat specialist operating fully within Japan with roughly only a 20 percent grasp on the language setting everything up from ground zero.
My biggest strength is utilizing my PTSD derived from combat conditions to power my company. Within 7 years, it has already helped me surpass multiple competitors who have been in my industry for well over 15 years.
Bringing the aggressive American style of business to Japan and seeing all the shortfalls within Japan has allowed me to cement my place within and has set the foundation within the first 10 years of business, which will see me reach high levels of success.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Donald Jackson Jr.: As I was treading on territory which had not been done to my level or what goals I had in store, locally there was not much guidance I could have received. With massive research and risk, I would have to be the one trailblazing a path for those who would look to follow after me.
As for distant guidance, I consumed daily much information from Valuetainment CEO Patrick Bet-David, almost as a virtual mentor. Mr. Bet-David, who was priorly in the Army, built his empire from the ground up.
The only advice I wish I could have been given is not to take every customer dropping out and or going elsewhere as a direct attack but to understand that every customer is not fit within my type of business.
Regarding improvements for next quarter, I intend to and have improved every subsequent month within the business, adding onto my business and directly investing back into my business to meet my goal of paying off all initial debts within my first 10 years of business.
Finally, I would have liked to have known that debt is not a bad thing when building. I didn’t accept any outside funding for the first three years of business.
My shop grew from job to job, building forward with each customer being serviced with quality and speed that was unmatched or unheard of within Japan, which is a country that is logistically very slow.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Donald Jackson Jr.: The age of online business is here and will never revert back to the days of yellow pages. If you have not been online establishing a dominant footprint for marketing, you will not coexist at a high level in today’s business.
Pinku Style Garage promotes daily on all social media outlets with a total of 650,000 combined followers between Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name a few. Each one of those followers are potential customers and many have been.
Pinku Style is fully locked into the online market utilizing rich META, ads systematically, and always researching how to gain an edge over the competition. Those small movements have proven to set me apart within my market here in Japan, as Japanese DO NOT utilize online marketing well.
I will continue to push hard daily to maintain and grow further my digital footprint.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Donald Jackson Jr.: In all markets and facets within the last four years, IF your business had holes within it, they were exposed. If your business has flourished and grown during the last four years, you have played your card correctly.
Pinku Style has made more money within the last four years of halts etc, due to forward planning, calculated partnerships as well as staying focused and on task toward my goals.
The real challenge plays against all that I have stated recently regarding social media marketing upsides as now many consumers, young and old look towards the “quickness” of social media contact.
Within small businesses many owners tend to fold to this in attempts to close a deal/job. This is a problem that causes disruption and trains customers in the wrong way of contacting smaller businesses. Customers are to treat you with the same protocol that they must provide to large corporations.
Customers, mostly all now due to the speed in which social media works, want information NOW and will often state, XYZ company does this for me via Facebook / IG and, in turn, want to bypass emailing via official medium for controlled contact.
Those companies that give in FULLY to social media will have boundaries broken and will eventually lead to breakdowns in communication which, if not checked, can certainly cause the end of YOUR business.
At Pinku Style, I am firm on the difference between promotion only on social media and the need to have customers contact me professionally via email, thus keeping separation and boundaries in place, which I feel is the biggest challenge for all up-and-coming business owners in the high-speed age of contracting.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Donald Jackson Jr.: With a great segway into this question from the last, there is no doubt that many have lost big, and some have gained big.
With 2023 in full swing, those with great planning hit the ground running (or didn’t stop running, continuing from 2022 with momentum, a tactic used by my own company), unveiling new add-ons to my business with many more to drop within Q1 of business 2023.
What I took most from the last few years was enough sources are NEVER enough. Being connected to over 150 companies, I still had issues with parts arriving late and or not at all, forcing me to gain new connections. One thing that I employed is to make a meaningful business connection at least once every 2 weeks.
This will see my business elevate and expand as that contact may not be used within the first 2 years, even though a time will come when you will either need and or be needed by that contact.
The last 3-4 years can definitely and will most likely happen again, and as a precaution, prepare NOW for it in order to survive and flourish after the dust settles.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Donald Jackson Jr.: 2023 is the year in which I will reestablish who I am in the automotive performance racing scene as I have been away from automotive racing to direct all funds towards my business to put it in the position it is currently in at 7 years strong. I’ve been told by many that the first 10 years of business, on average, consist of you paying the business to keep it running.
While there is validity, the cold hard truth is many don’t understand and or are ready for the hardships that you will face in running a business. From my combat experience in Iraq, I learned to prepare for everything and expect everything, plus some!
I am in a place where I am 100% firm and solid as to who I am in life and what my purpose is; this is something that will no doubt rub some the wrong way.
Standing fast, I will continue to breed success as a result of my resilience, not allowing anyone or object to be immovable in my life, and providing generational wealth for my wife and five children as well as a solid product to my customers/clients.
Q1 2023 has brought forth many groundbreaking revels; however, much more will come this year, which will cement my legacy within Japan and leave a mark for those to follow after me for foreign businesses within Japan.
Finally, while I’ve been content with all that I do here in Japan, this year, I intend to make my presence as the ONLY African-American (American in general) owned business within mainland Japan and a reliable source for automotive needs.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Donald Jackson for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Donald Jackson or his company, you can do it through his – Facebook
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