It was around the year 1990 while driving down the road in our VW GTI Brent told me he wanted open his own body shop one day. He had just started working at a local body shop as a painters helper, the idea seemed pretty crazy to me. Looking back now it was crazy, we had no business experience or money to do it.
The body shop where Brent worked had some of the best painters and body men around, lucky for Brent they were willing to teach him their craft. Brent has a way of wanting things done to his requirements and over the next few years this led to him plaster houses, have a shop with a close friend then finally landing a job at a commercial collision shop were he went on to become the head painter. This is when he had the privilege of meeting Lawrence Gibbons. He was a regular at the shop and always had a specific vision of how his trucks should look. Lawrence showed Brent what a cool truck should look like, this man was ahead of his time.
After leaving the collision shop in 1996 Brent and his brother Chad started working in the garage at home with the goal of having their own hot rod shop. Our three-year old son tagged along daily. The three of them had some special time together as they fixed fenders of cars, painted boats, old gas pumps and anything else they could get their hands on. Soon neighbors started to complained about the noise and fumes and they had to move to a temporary shop. Not long afterwards Brent and Chad, aka McGrath Bros, rented a building with another business and they began to expand. Work came in from a few local trucking companies, they honed their skills on classic cars and began building working trucks. It was during this time that Bracelin One showed up on a pallets.
Brent and Chad eventually parted ways. Brent changed the name to Brent’s Custom Body and Paint. Chad moved to northern California and went to work in a hot rod shop. The shop stayed busy with working trucks, classic cars and a contract we had with UPS. There were four guys working in the shop with Brent until 9/11 hit and everything stopped. We struggled to figure out how to keep the shop open. Then six months later we lost Chad unexpectedly. The brothers had always remained close and the loss was devastating to our whole family. It changed the course of our lives.
Brent took a job with a local company painting trucks and was able to move the business onto a small shop on their property. It wasn’t long before we were back on our feet and into our own shop. Over the course of the next seven years we moved the shop two more times, each time increasing our size. We eventually made the decision to only work on trucks, it was truly our passion. It wasn’t an easy decision to cut off half our clients so we made another bold move to purchase the Haas VF3 CNC milling machine. Brent adjusted the name to Brent’s Custom Trucks and we began making custom parts for trucks.
Bracelin One was a slow-moving project, at times a year or more would go by without any work being done on it. Leroy and Joanie Bracelin could have pulled the plug at anytime but choose not to because they “liked what they saw”. Leroy allowed Brent to bring in jobs that would help grow his business and improve his skills. Victor Maestez, Bob Cretton, Danny Miles and Tyler Picknell were among those jobs. The CNC machine was used to create custom parts for each truck giving the builds something special.
In 2011 we basically closed the doors to the public in order to complete the Bracelin truck. Chris was our only employee and he helped Brent stay focused and get the job finished. There is a list of skilled people who came in to help Brent with wiring, mechanics, pin striping, interior, stereo and so on. In 2012, a week after our son graduated from high school, Brent showed the truck for the first time in Las Vegas. We had two graduates.
Opportunities like building Bracelin One are rare. The Bracelin’s saw Brent’s potential, allowed him time to polish his skills and mature as a person. We are fortunate to have been able to open a business, get through some tough times and continue on. As Brent finishes his latest project it is obvious he will continue to push his skills further and build trucks to honor those no longer with us. We appreciate our clients, they allow us to follow our passion. So many of our clients have become close friends and for that we are grateful.