I am choosing to
write this story as a warning! This story is based on my
So my story will be more complete. I will tell you how my dream got started, where it headed, and how it ended up as a nightmare! If you're not interested in the first two, please read the "Road Trip" section. The name of the owner will be exposed, but I want you to see what kind of a person he really is! Sorry if this is so long! This is worth reading!!!
In 1998 when I was 16 years old, I got an idea after I rear ended a 1997 Cadillac Deville. When I was in high school I worked for my parents who owned a local lumber yard. I was only making $5.50 an hour. I was able to save up a lot of money over the years so I could customize my truck. About a month after I graduated high school, my parents were completely screwed over by a couple of ruthless bankers and we lost almost everything! So just to keep my truck, I had to pay more than what it was worth.
A few weeks after my parents business went under I explained my idea to my patent lawyer. My lawyer then screwed me over by changing my design and adding a bed liner! I never mentioned anything about a bed liner so I have no idea why that was added to my design? I was never given the opportunity to look over the information before it was filed. So instead, he patented "his" idea with my money! Now you know why I'm so picky! Someone that I hired wasn't paying attention to the details...
Since it was his mistake we worked out a deal and all I had to pay was another filing fee. This is why I have two patents. In order to make all this happen, I wiped out my entire life savings at the age of 18! I dropped over $11,000 of my own money just to keep my truck and to start this business adventure of mine. Now I'm completely broke, and I just lost my job.
My invention is
“The World’s First” patented “Trunk” Tonneau Cover.
Finally after two years my idea was successfully patented. I
co-built my prototype for my truck when I was 21 and showed my truck
until I was 22. My truck was beat up so I needed to get it fixed for
The first body shop fixed all the dents from it's former days of being a work truck, and the second body shop started customizing it. Between the two shops only 30 hours of labor went into my truck in about a year. I was only able to show my prototype at five car shows before my truck was taken apart. So now I'm looking for a "one stop shop" that can handle the work load! However this time, I want to build a Sema Show truck for Las Vegas!
Now here comes the start of my nightmare...
I wanted a “hot rod” shop that specialized in building custom vehicles so I made a call and got on their “list”. Over the years this shop has produced a lot of show vehicles that have been featured in all the custom truck magazines. So I knew they were a reputable shop that could create my dream truck.
I made a visit to the “hot rod” shop to see what kind of plans I needed to make and to meet the owner for the first time. I decided that since it was a four hour drive one way from Elk City, Oklahoma I was going to take some parts with me. This way if they ever had time they would be able to work on them.
I loaded up my doors and I took a road trip. We went over my plans for the truck and we talked about deadlines. At this time I told the owner what I had been through and what my truck means to me. I told him about my goals and my sacrifices and everything I was willing to give up in order to make my dreams a reality from day one.
I told him I wanted to build a Sema Show truck for 2007. He said it shouldn’t be a problem because at this time, it was June 2006. I ran into the owner a few months later at a car show. He told me “We are almost finished with your doors.” However, today he has no recollection that this was ever said...
Since this is my demo vehicle and everything is based around it, anything that is said or done I automatically make a mental note of it and remember every little detail. Since my doors were almost finished, for my next trip I loaded up my bed so they could start building a new tonneau cover. However the next time I made a visit, my doors were no where to be found and no one had even been working on them...
Since I want to take my truck to the next level, I began with smoothing out all the plastic pieces under the hood and the interior. Once my engine was on a stand, I began removing all the texture and imperfections. I then moved on to smoothing out the intake manifold and the transmission to have them ready for polishing. Everything else such as the suspension, driveshaft, rear end and the frame was ready for body work and chrome. It’s all in the details!
I endured a lot of misleading conversations with the owner time and time again. I was always told that something new was delaying progress. At one point he lost his two best employees, and sadly there were a few deaths in his family, so I expected to wait.
After missing the deadline of Sema 2007, I still had hopes for 2008 that my truck would finally be in the rotation! However, I felt that no matter how many phone calls or visits I made that nothing was ever going to change. So just like I am doing now, on April 15, 2008 I wrote the owner a personal letter about my situation. Since I knew everything I had on my list would be impossible to make for the upcoming Sema, I asked if it would be possible to have my truck completed for Sema 2009.
I wish I would have called him on the phone and waited for him to tell me he "has" or he "is" working on my truck. Then two minutes later walk through the door while I'm still on the phone with him and ask to see the progress...
After Sema 2008, I got a message from the owner telling me that he was finally ready to start working on my truck! He then invited me to his new 24,000 square foot shop for an open house! After seeing his new shop, I knew if I backed out now I would be making a big mistake. I was just as excited as Rosco P. Coltrane! "Kik-kik-kyah, I love it! I love it!"
We went over my ideas from top to bottom. Thinking he would be able to get started on my truck right away since he already had my bed and my doors, he told me “I would rather you just bring me the entire truck so we can put it all back together, line up all the panels and get everything straight and then take it apart and work on it. Go ahead and bring me some money.”
Unbelievable! So now after all this time, he
is waiting on ME! I see the logic in having the whole truck at once, but
since this whole build is based around my invention, I didn’t see why he
couldn’t have at least started with my bed? Remember he did tell me
my doors were almost finished...
We began talking about my deadline and the next show season. The owner told me he wanted to have around 10-15 of the same make and model trucks that his shop is "famous" for, all at one big show in July. He said he wanted to have a sign that said he was the undisputed champion of the world for this make and model of truck and wear championship wrestling belts around the show... I never heard anything about my Dodge Ram in this discussion...
So I knew that Sema 2009 wasn’t going to
happen for the third year in a row. I contacted one of his former
clients and asked about his situation and he told me to “hang in there”,
but it might be a good idea to see if I am actually on his “list”.
Then I contacted another one of his former clients and I got a
bomb dropped on me! I was told A LOT things of how his family got
completely screwed over by the owner and I would be a fool to stay a
minute longer because of what he did to them! Suddenly my mind was made
I called the owner and told him my friends and I would be making a road trip this coming Saturday and we wanted to swing by and check out the shop. He invited us to come down anytime but he told me he wasn’t going to be there because even though he “needed” to be working on Sema projects, he was going to a rock and roll concert in Detroit... "Sema Crunch" right?
He has had tickets for over four months now and he really wanted to go. The dates for the Sema Show have been set for the next decade, so I guess luxury to him is more important than his customers? So I hope they didn’t expect their vehicles to be at Sema this year? I know I did... Now it's time for a road trip!
Today is the day, that I am picking up my truck and the owner has no idea. After hearing the other horror stories from former clients, I was not going to give the owner an opportunity to "arrange" for me to pick up my truck under his guidelines, time, or schedule. I didn't want him to touch my truck until my friends and I could see it. Just as it sits. Neglected...
My friends and I stayed the night so we could go to the “hot rod” shop the next morning. They began looking around while the owner and I began making small talk. Eventually we found ourselves standing next to my neglected truck.
I asked the owner “Are my doors and my bed
still sitting outside?” He said
This is why I am writing all of this! If he would have handled himself differently I never would have made all of this a public issue!
My truck had been pinned in by two vehicles
on each side. Each car had
I was a little shocked that he blew up like that, so I said “I'm not coming back! I'm taking my truck with me today!" At this time, my three friends walked up behind me. There was only a pile of parts of what used to be car, sitting between us and the owner. He was standing there all by himself. I know what your thinking... but my friends were there for two reasons. Moral support and to help me load up my truck, that is all.
The owner immediately got on his cell phone and called his business partner who was working in the other part of the shop. He told him to call his son-in-law to help them move a car.
The owner and his business partner tried to reason with me, so my friends walked off so we could talk. I want to accomplish my goals so I have made HUGE sacrifices in my personal life for the past 11 years.
I tried to explain my personal situation and how patents expire, and that I need my truck for my demo vehicle, to where he replied “That’s life man! We all deal with that stuff, you need to suck it up and move on!” He said something to me in a derogatory manner as he used "air quotes". So I told him I didn't like the "air quotes" and for him not to use them again. Keeping my cool, I took his remarks as an insult! After 40 months of wasting my time, he has done absolutely NOTHING! I have wasted so many opportunities and thrown away so much of my life that I can't get back because I was waiting on him. His word is completely worthless! It was nothing but a joke to him! I then told him this is “More than just a truck! It’s my life!” but he didn't care.
He told me that I don’t have enough PATIENCE to wait on him because his work is worth waiting for and I was the reason my truck wasn’t finished. It was my fault because I bailed out on the first two body shops and I was bailing out on him, is what he said. He then tells me I have no idea what it takes to build custom vehicles over and over again. Is he serious? This guy has got to be kidding me! I know exactly what it takes! This is why I have been padding my bank account and tapping the calendar for years! There is A LOT of work to do and not enough time. I've missed my deadline three times because of him.
I work on a three man crew with my dad and my brother and we build high end custom homes and business’ from the ground up! I know exactly what it takes to do this kind of work and what needs to be done in order to complete HUGE projects! The principles are the exact same! We miss deadlines too but it's not because we aren't working towards them or giving people the run around. All I do is work! I have two paying jobs, and two hobbies that keep me busy constantly! I know what WORK is and what you have to do!
He even told me that he has had several ideas and he should invest in a patent. It sounded like he was trying to "one up" me? So I told him he has no idea what it takes to get a patent.
At one point and time, I think he was trying
to get me to stay? However, after 40 months of waiting on him, he waits
until the day I pick up my truck to tell me this...
"We have considered many times to stop building vehicles for Sema. There
is a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, and we usually lose a
few employees after it’s over.” So let me get this straight…
I have been waiting on him to build my demo truck for the Sema Show, and
he has considered not even building them anymore? And he was
planning on telling me this… when? Next year when I miss another
deadline? So I asked him about that, but I forgot what he said because I
was too speechless to remember. So I just told him I was ready to load up my truck
As the owner walked back inside the gate, I asked if he had his checkbook. However, I never heard him say anything. So with my attitude of D.T.A. (Don’t Trust Anyone) I followed him while my friends loaded up my truck.
As I began walking to the front of his shop I was asked, “Where do you think you are going? Wait and I will walk you to the front!” So as he escorted me up front, I told him I needed a refund check for $5,000. I heard him say under his breathe "Well this was a waste of a day!" His time was wasted because he planned on painting a car so he could go to a football game that afternoon. As we walk in the door I heard his checkbook make a loud thud on his desk as he begins to make a speech about deposits and what not.
I said “That’s cool man I don’t need to hear it, but if you can give me a check for $5,000 I will be on…” He interrupted me with a stern look on his face as he raised his eyebrows and said with a deep tone in his voice “I KNOW how much it is!” So as he continued with his speech, I didn’t like where he was headed so I interrupted him with a stern look on MY face, as I raised MY eyebrows and said “So… you’re not going to give me my money back?” He then continued and said something like, “I will give you what I think you deserve.” I can’t remember exactly what he said, but my only thought was “I’m going to get screwed…”
He told me that he HATES to lose customers
and that he takes it personal.
The owner has built at least 6 vehicles for himself since 2006. I have even looked at past magazine features to where I found at least 3 more that belonged to him.
I have noticed that at least 5 of his own vehicles have been shown at Sema since 2004. He even rebuilt one of his own vehicles that was backed into at Sema several years ago. He decided to rebuilt it and take it back to Sema a few years later. He told me it only took him two weeks to rebuilt it. This happened in 2007 while I was on his list. He even told me he was thinking about repainting it again and another one of his personal cars and he plans to build himself a 4 x 4 suv. His daughter has a project in his shop right now and I think even his wife had one too? Nothing wrong with helping your family at all.
I don’t have a problem with people building their own vehicles as long as it’s on their own time and it doesn’t affect a customer’s deadline. Maybe he does build them after hours? Either way he still has a lot of them. It would be nice if he could do all of that for his customers, don't you think?
I asked him why he builds so many of his own
vehicles every year. He said, “My customers don’t always build
feature worthy vehicles, so I build something to take to shows. My good
friend who is a magazine editor will feature a vehicle if I ask him too.
I could even tell him to shoot pictures
I can't comment on every magazine
feature that he has received over the years, because I know some of them
at some point were earned on their own. However with a shop full of
projects. Is he wanting boost his business or his ego? His shop is
loaded with projects just like mine! All collecting dust... I've seen
several vehicles come and go since I was on his list.
At different times during the conversations,
the owner was hitting on issues that had nothing to do with anything. He
was trying to compare and then "one up" me, to see who worked more
hours, made better wages, and completed more jobs in a year between his
shop, and my dad’s carpenter business?
He already told me that he has no recollection of my past and he has never promised me anything and I have no “proof”. Well at least that is what he believes... It is obvious that I am just another name on his list. I do not think he did anything intentional, I just feel that this is his routine. All he could say was, “I have never told you that we are the fastest, I have always told you that we are gaining ground on your project. I guess I just tell you what you want to hear?”
If he would have been honest with me from the start and told me he had a waiting list of six months, a year, or two years this would be a completely different situation. However since he told me numerous times that he “has” or “will be” starting soon, my mind set was corrupted and I believed him.
He has a pair of LED taillights that belong to me but they were in another building across town. So I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote my address on it so he can ship them to me. He said “I think I have your address already, I think I saw it on your website.” I said “No I don’t have it posted on there.” Good thing I wrote it down, huh? He then takes out a different piece of paper and wrote me a guarantee that he would ship them out to me. So we both signed it and kept a copy. He told me he was an honest guy so I would be sure to get my taillights because “This is how I roll.” However, instead I received a check for my "misplaced" taillights five and a half weeks later, because he didn't have time to look for them so he reimbursed me for the amount I quoted.
So finally after standing in his office for about an hour he wrote me a check for $5,000 and handed me that guarantee paper and I was headed out the door. There was no hand shake, and he never said “no hard feelings” or “good luck”. He did however apologize to me earlier. He told me in a smug tone, “I apologize that I couldn’t get YOUR truck done in YOUR time frame.”
I have no issues with his employees, friends, affiliates or his business partners, this is all on him. His business partner is a nice guy who does FLAWLESS work, which was half the reason why I pursued this shop in the first place. His quality work will be missed but I will make ends meet. Sorry man I hate it!
I know some people will try to defend him, but this was never
about a friendship. I hired him to do a job and I never asked for
special privileges. It doesn’t matter what he has done to help you in
your life, he has done nothing but hurt mine.
I still have plans to build my dream truck; in fact a new shop will be starting within days. This shop has the talent to finish what this guy was never able to start. When my truck is finished it will be a "Timeless Classic" which will be nothing short of a killer ride! I am NOT seeking to join any clubs, receive any sponsorships, or take out any loans to finish my dream truck.
I do not want to be on Overhaulin’ and I do
not need anything given to me because of a “hard luck” story. I've had
different motives over the years but now I'm doing this as a reward for
myself because I deserve to have it finished. I’m NOT doing this for trophies, features, or even
money! I just want my truck completed like I have had pictured in my
head for the past 11 years.
I don’t seek revenge because I know a guilty conscience will sneak up on him. I know exactly what it’s like to have people mess with your head! Maybe he will have at least one sleepless night so he will know just what he put me through! I hope that maybe when he looks at a Dodge Ram, he will be reminded of this situation and any success that I receive has NOTHING to do with him or his shop! "If you can't join them, then you have to beat them."
Now my story is almost over and I want to speak directly to the owner. The way you treated me the day I left just showed me who you really are! I feel sorry for anyone else that has gone through this with you just to have a luxury item in their life! It's just not worth it! I almost quit and gave up on everything that I have been pursuing for the past 11 years because of you! I regret ever calling you in June 2006! You have done nothing but waste my time!
You are holding back people like me and my friends who are in this for the cars and trucks and the friends that we gain along the way. We don't do this for the business side of it. This is our hobby. Yes I know I am trying to get my product on the market but it has nothing to do with money anymore! I'm so far past the money side of it because money is not my motivation and it doesn't buy me happiness. I just want to finish what I started when I was 16. We do all of this because we love it and it's guys like you that ruin it for the rest of us! Our trucks are more than just "trucks"! This is our passion! We enjoy it!
I know this has nothing to do with me whatsoever, but it reminds me of what I could have been pursing if my truck was completed by now. If I understand this correctly? You still have one of my friends trucks that you kept for collateral? You told me before that you sold his truck, however I heard that you never did and you still have it? So if that is true, can you give it back to him because I know he would really appreciate it! He needs HIS truck back so he can sell it, so he can afford to get married! Why do I care? Because this is who I am, and "this is how I roll!"
THIS IS WHAT I DO FOR MY FRIENDS!!!
You turned my dream into a nightmare and now your reality will become your own nightmare! I have nothing more to say to you, however I don't think you have seen the last of me because...
believe that someday my nightmare WILL all be erased and I know that…
"Tell 'em all!"
|My "promised" proof for Sema 2009.||My written guarantee||The owner's personal rides|
“Stand up for what you believe in, don’t take
crap from anyone,
and ALWAYS ride in style.” –Jance
Since my property was neglected at the “hot rod” shop, my doors now have hail damage and who knows if the power still works? My bed has several dents and it looks like it has been dropped on its rockers! My truck that used to be garage kept, must have been sitting outside because now my frame and suspension is rusted! But look on the bright side of things. It's just a 1994 Dodge Ram right? At least it wasn't a number's matching 1955 T-Bird that was headed for Detroit! Oh Wait... that happened too, but theirs was A LOT worse than mine... Click here to see pictures of the T-Bird!
I will man up and take full responsibility for my doors and my bed being damaged since I dropped them off, unannounced. However, since the owner didn’t have enough sense to “protect” my property and keep them out of the weather, I am now that much further behind. If you add up the past two shops who's work now has to be redone and the 40 months that I lost with his shop. I have lost a grand total of fifty one and a half months for nothing... Seriously?????
High Resolution Images
5 Year Summary
|1st Body shop (May - July 2005)||20 Hours of labor = 2.5 months||Shop was too scared to build my dream truck.|
|2nd Body Shop (August - May 2006)||10 Hours of labor = 9 months||Small town, 2 person crew, main employee got sick, shop was going to close.|
Hill's Hot Rods from Lubbock, Texas
(40 Month Review)
|June - November 2006||0 Hours = Sema Crunch||New customer waiting in line for work to begin.|
|November 2006 - November 2007||0 Hours = Sema Vehicles||Deaths in owners family (Rebuilt his own personal vehicle for Sema.)|
|November 2007 - April 2008||0 Hours = Other Customers||I wrote my personal letter to the owner telling
him I was losing interest
in my protect but was told, work was going to be getting done...
|April 2008 - December 2008||0 Hours = New Shop Opened||The new shop was completed, and my truck project is finally ready to begin.|
|January 2009 - October 2009||
0 Hours = 40 months total
|I picked up my truck after 9 months, because they
were not working on it.
The owner built 6 of his own vehicles during my 40 months of waiting.
My truck was damaged by the body shop and I was paid for my missing
parts instead of getting them back. I had to fight to get back my $5,000 deposit.
A grand total of 30 hours has been completed in 5 years by 3 different body shops.