July '16

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JULY 2016 THE SHOP 27 California. His mother worked there and helped him land a job during the peak popularity of the import tuning scene in the late 1990s. "I hated working in the warehouse, so I would wander off to where the fun stuff was happening—where the body kits were being designed and shaped and where the show cars were," he remembers. "Every chance I got, I would find a reason to get in the design bay." One day he snuck into the conference room and found some drawings on the wall that he remembers to this day. "There were renderings of a Firebird body kit, a Pontiac Sunfire project vehicle and an S-10 body kit rendering. While I was studying the artwork, Billy Longfellow walked up behind me. Billy was a co-owner, and the creative side of the company." Instead of being upset, Longfellow began telling Bernal about the drawings and the artists who drew them. "He said, 'Thom Taylor did those for us.' I had seen guys like Chip Foose and Thom Taylor's artwork in magazines, but this was the first time I had seen a company pay them to produce artwork that was for a purpose. It clicked at that moment that this was a profession and I had been getting good at something that might pay off. Billy is still a supporter of mine to this day and it's those moments and relationships that this industry is all about." THE BUSINESS OF DROPPING JAWS Now in his early 30s, Bernal counts many of his heroes as peers in an industry that continues to excite while pushing his art- work to new heights. "As I've become more of a player in the game, my inspiration has turned to bet- tering myself and always doing better than the year prior," he says. "If you ask what inspires me creatively, I would say dropping jaws. I'm in the business of dropping jaws with subtle-yet-complex design aspects that make people at shows stop and scratch their heads, trying to dissect and figure out what I did and how I did it." He says it helps being in a business that brings out the passion of so many. "I don't know of any other industry where everybody who works in it has the same disease. I love mechanical art, and that's what vehicles are. Those who see cars as only transportation don't have the disease," he says. "If you look at not only custom cars and hot rods, but even pro- p remiu m all a lu minu m C ARTS , C AB IN ETS & D RAWERS WWW.CTECHMANUFACTURING.COM - 715.355.8842 - WESTON, WISCONSIN

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