THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business May '14

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May 2014 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 79 '51 Shoebox destined for Barcelona that's ready for a few last touches in the shop, want a car that's ready to drive right away. There's also a '51 Merc ready for paint and behind it, five more Mercs lined up. Arguably, there are more Mercs lined up at this shop than at most local car shows. Most are cars that Castillo buys, and then builds each one to the point that it's almost ready for paint. Then he finds a customer for it, who can choose the color, interior, motor and other accessories. "Most of the customized work, like on the roof and frame, is al- ready done by then. So they already have a feel for the car and what it's going to look like." Because he does most of the work on his own, Castillo doesn't have time to get to a lot of events to market the shop. But he makes a point to get to the Mooneyes car show once a year. And at least a couple of times a year, he sets up a booth at the Po- mona Swap Meet and takes one of the cars, along with a few parts to sell. He brings a few custom shirts to sell as well. "It's good to be able to hang out and meet with customers," he says. Teach Your Children Well Besides taking care of business, Castillo makes time to coach his son's football team, visit his Dad every Sunday and to be a mentor to many of the kids in the neighborhood. "I don't have employees," he says, "but I do have kids who come in from time to time to help." The neighborhood is pretty rough, Castillo explains, and there are a lot of temptations for kids to go astray. If he can keep some of those kids off the street, he feels like he's done something good for the neighborhood. The kids come around on their own. Or sometimes he sees a few hanging out. "I'll go get a soda," he says. "There are kids hanging out. I'll pull up in one of my cars and the kids right away go, 'Man, that's a nice car!'" Some are really into the cars, so he hands them a business card and tells them to come up to the shop. Some show up; some he never sees again. And, when they do come and help, sometimes they do things that need to be done over because it's not done right. "You have your setbacks when you have these kids around," he says, "but I have no problem with that because I know I'm keeping them off the street. If they mess up something, hey, it comes with the territory." In the 13 years Castillo's been in business, three of the kids who "came around" have turned around and opened up their own busi- nesses. Lefty opened Lefty's Kustoms in Lynwood; "Grimm" opened Kustombuilt in Bellflower; and Juanito opened Juanito's Autobody in Los Angeles. All are doing well now on their own. "You can walk into some shops that have all these trophies. But for me, knowing I was able to give somebody a start in something they're going to make a living off of the rest of their life—that's my trophy." PHBMAYp58-91.indd 79 4/2/14 2:20 PM

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