Team Frugal: Vinnie Johnson

Being frugal is about more than being stingy with your money. It means being prudent, smart and economical with your finances and career decisions. Every Tuesday, we share profiles of athletes that exemplify what it means to be A Frugal Athlete.

Finding your role within a team doesn’t mean you have to be accepting of it. Everyone wants to be the big dog on the team but for some that may not be feasible. In order for success as an individual and for your team, you must be able to excel in whatever role you are in. The same goes for business. You don’t have to be the big dog in the business world, you can still be more than successful finding your own niche. There is a market for everybody and if you excel at what you bring to the table, there will be room for you to prosper. 

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Vinnie Johnson famous for his 6th man role with the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons who won back to back titles in 1989 and 1990 is now finding his niche in the business spectrum. 


Vinnie Johnson is the chairman of auto supply company, the Piston Group. His group provides auto supplies for manufacturers and have grown to a company that does over a billion dollars in revenue. Vinnie Johnson credits his experience in sports and that his “willingness to make adjustments” and “knowing what he’s good and not good at” have been key reasons to his transition into business. He also credits having a good team around him as a key proponent to his success. 

This Piston Group continues to expand and recently closed on a 175 million dollar acquisition of Takata Corp. 


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Vinnie Johnson’s story is a great example of what it means to be a frugal athlete. As an athlete you may not be the franchise player and that is alright. In business, you may not be the biggest conglomerate or newest tech start up but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. The Piston Group sells auto supplies. They don’t sell cars…they don’t sell oil….they don’t sell car insurance, they sell auto supplies. It goes to show that there is a need for everything, as long as you find your niche and are successful you can be prosperous just like Vinnie Johnson has done both on and off the court. 


Many times athletes want to be start businesses that have to be the next Facebook or Amazon. It doesn’t have to be that way, athletes should instead look for something they are passionate about and a business that fits a need.