Performance & Hotrod Business May '14

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92 n Performance & Hotrod Business n May 2014 BUSINESS J ust what does it mean to open and operate a successful custom shop? What is required? Bottomless bank account? Investors? Brutally long hours? I recently talked to the owners of two very successful shops about this subject, asking both of them five questions. Their sto- ries, advice and ideas are eye-opening to the reality of starting a cus- tom shop from nothing and turning it into a place that produces award-winning quarter-million-dollar vehicles on a regular basis. What it takes to make it in the performance world. Steve Strope of Pure Vision. The success of Pure Vision is a result of his professional- ism, innovations, and painstaking attention to detail. Pure Vision Steve Strope opened Pure Vision almost 20 years ago. It has become one of the most successful high-end custom shops in the world. From humble beginnings in a parking structure, Strope's road to success has been a combination of clever ideas, common sense, unflinching determination and perfect timing. Creations from his shop have been featured in and on the covers of many magazines over the years, and won countless awards, includ- ing three coveted Hot Rod magazine "Top Ten Cars of the Year." Pure Vision ( has its own episode on TLC's hot series "Rides," its own line of die-cast Mattel's Hot Wheels cars and has had cars appearing in several blockbuster movies. Pure Vision specializes in full design, concept and build projects, but also does maintenance or upgrades. How did you start your shop? SS: Thanks to a combination of clever marketing and great tim- ing, the first car I built was featured as one of Hot Rod magazine's Top Ten and I didn't even have a shop yet. I built the car in the parking structure where I lived. I had to cover my neighbors' cars with plastic sheeting so I wouldn't get paint overspray on them. I had developed an idea to have a car ready for Hot Rod's Power Tour, set a budget, and found parts I needed that were sold by companies sponsoring the Power Tour. I made a little press pack with photocopies of magazine articles I already had. I went to the magazine with a drawing of the car, told them I'm using all these parts from sponsor companies, and I'm unveiling the car at Power Tour; would you put my drawing in your magazine? At the same time, I told the companies about the project and asked if they would sponsor the parts. And both the magazine and the companies said yes. The car went on the Power Tour, was featured in magazines and took a Top Ten. I had the name Pure Vision before I even had an actual shop. Soon after that first Top Ten, I built a giveaway car for Hot Rod and was also approached by a guy who wanted me to custom-build his Challenger. I built these first few cars in my parking space, but realized I needed a building, so in 2002, I finally got a building and opened the doors. PHBMAY.indd 92 4/2/14 1:54 PM

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