His business, Tom and Ed’s Autobody, was chosen best in the Northwest Indiana region in a 2020 NWI Times poll, and now Andrew Tylka has been named one of the 20 Under 40 young professionals to watch.
The Times’ 20 Under 40 recognizes young professionals from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in Indiana who stand out in their professions and their communities. The honorees are chosen by a committee that reviews nominations from the public.
Tylka, 37, was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, the son of Tom and Debbie Tylka. He graduated in 2001 from Lake Central High School, where he said he was “engulfed” in tennis, playing on the school team and spending four hours a day, six days a week playing and practicing.
“I knew I would not be a pro, and then I got injured before my senior year. I had to have wrist surgery that I never fully recovered from,” he said.
After graduation, he enrolled at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, majoring in marketing and management. He was able to play and practice tennis with the university team, and he joined the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.
“I didn’t have any career in sight, but I always enjoyed leadership and responsibility,” he said. “I became vice president of the fraternity and started working at Jillian’s.”
Jillian’s was a sports bar and restaurant with other activities like billiards and bowling on the second and third floor. He worked his way up to manager during a six-year stint, learning how to be a successful businessman from his bosses.
“They taught me transparency, which I still use with my employees," Tylka said. "Everyone knew the standards and what goals we were trying to reach. I learned how to have fun together. When you spend the majority of your time working, you might as well have fun.”
He then joined with a New York investor who specialized in acquiring troubled malls and repurposing them. With Tylka, he turned a 100,000-square-foot mall into an indoor theme park that Tylka ran. His partner was looking to expand the operation to California when Tylka’s father called and said he was thinking of selling the auto body business to a national chain.