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Accident becomes salvation for motorcycle enthusiast

By Frank Tilley
May 16, 2011 at 12:16 a.m.
Updated May 22, 2011 at 12:22 a.m.

Robert Zissa was seriously injured after being  struck by a car as he was test driving a motorcycle following repairs. Unable to find work after the accident, Zissa was fortunate to take over Victoria Iron Works after months of being turned down for employment.

The intoxicating smell of hot exhaust fumes lingered in the air as the thundering sound of a Harley-Davidson flat head engine roared so loud that the windows of a brand new Chevy Camaro shattered.

In an instant, Robbie Zissa was hooked on motorcycles.

Zissa was just 10 years old when he first encountered the sights and sounds of a Harley-Davidson Servi-Car. He was mesmerized by the experience and that passion continues to hold a special place in the fiber of his being.

Working as a motorcycle mechanic at a local dealer, Zissa's world would be shattered one day when a motorist struck him and the motorcycle he was test driving.

Little did he know that the accident, which robbed him of his love for motorcycles, would become his salvation.

July 5, 2006, is a date Zissa will never forget because that's the day life dealt him a second chance. Andrew Sparkman, who owned and operated Victoria Iron Works, hired Zissa and he has never looked back. Another twist of fate would bless Zissa in October 2007, when he bought and took ownership of Victoria Iron Works.

A strong work ethic and determination are necessary ingredients to run a business, but Iron Works couldn't survive without the support of co-workers Joshua De La Rosa and Mingo Martinez.

De La Rosa works the front desk, gives estimates for repair or customization work plus maintains a blog site at www.victoriairon

Martinez, on the other hand, manages to get in a little mechanical work when he is not busy, "writing on the wall." A sheet of plyboard strategically located behind the front counter is covered in "colorful quotes," chiefly attributed to Mingo.

Enjoying what you are doing is fundamental to Zissa's vision. For the past five years, Zissa has invited friends to the shop to celebrate a "second chance." The accident that changed the course of his life also brought out the better qualities in him.

Zissa is active in his church and helps collect funds for charities each year, including sponsoring an annual blood drive.

Looking back on the accident, Zissa reflects on his new outlook. "Don't take each day for granted ... you try to think, did I make the best of today that I could?"



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