WHEN IT COMES TO HOT RODS, WORK IS PLAY!

Most guys start small when it comes to playing with cars, and Kevin was no different. He enjoyed building models, and his Uncle Manuel in Santa Ana, CA coached him along. Kevin recalls:

"I always liked cars, but my Uncle Manuel got me hooked on them.  He let me wax his 1953 Chevy, with Meguiar's.  Holding the bottle in one hand and pointing at it with the other, he said, 'This stuff works'.  Those words obviously stuck!  He took me to my first drag race, and cruised the neighborhoods of Santa Ana with me in tow."

In the Fall of 1984, Kevin got a job at Steve's Detailing in Newport Beach, CA.  He worked Saturday's doing hand car washes at the Newport Boulevard location, and worked weekdays cleaning interiors at the Fashion Island location.

"Steve's was the only major player back then.  I had no idea what a high-caliber organization it was until after I was hired.  In that regard, I just got lucky."

One Sunday, Kevin stopped by the Super Shops Automotive Performance Center in Garden Grove.  He says with a grin:

"I wanted a job there the moment I walked in.  The smell of new tires was overpowering; there were crowds of people waiting for help, and guys confidently selling parts from behind the counter.  It all hit me like a bolt of lightning.  I turned in the application, but didn't do so well on the written test.  Alan Basham, the manager of the store, pushed to get me hired because of my want-to-learn attitude.  I got the job, and what a blessing it turned out to be."

Kevin learned about cars, but more importantly, he was taught to take care of customers, how to sell, and how to manage."  He worked throughout LA and Orange County, traveling to whichever store needed him most. Kevin became Assistant Manager of the Long Beach store, and worked under the tutorage of Scott Rockhold, a seasoned Super Shops pro.  About his time with Scott:

Long Beach was the toughest store to work at.  Lots of street racers, roughnecks, & riff-raff.  "Scott was laid back, and unbeatable with these guys. They really liked him, and would even wait 10 minutes on hold just to ask, 'Hey Scott, what time you open 'til tonight?'   Once Scott introduced us to his personal clientele, they would finally allow us the attempt to help them out."

By age 19, Kevin became manager of the 1000 Oaks store, then transferred to the much larger Torrance location six months later. About Torrance:

"We made that store crazy busy. Within months, we had the largest sales increases in the country. There were times when we had 22 guys behind the counter, and 50 to 60 customers waiting.  It was a fantastic crew.  Alan and Scott taught me well."

After Super Shops, Kevin started a mobile detailing business, and worked it full-time at it, for about 13 years.  He continues to detail, albeit on a limited basis.  About detailing, Kevin says:

"I pick and choose the work now, instead of taking on every job."

One of the guys he chooses to work for and with is his friend, Dave.  For years, Kevin detailed Dave's wide array of cars, keeping them spic and span. Nowadays, they mostly tinker on stuff.

"Dave allows me carte blanche use of his shop, and even lets me use his car collection as a testbed of sorts.  After all- there's always something new being developed at Meguiar's, and I need a place to try the prototype stuff out."

Dave sought permission to recreate one of the most famous dragsters of all-time, the Beebe & Mulligan Top Fuel Dragster.  With permission granted and a bevy of original builders of the car, it was born anew. Dave exhibits the dragster at select events, and Kevin is part of the new crew.

"I'm counted on to keep the dragster clean, help out around the pits, sell memorabilia, and hit the toggle on the starter.  A good deal for me."

About Dave, Kevin says:  "Dave has bestowed upon me the highest level of trust. I've learned so much of what I know working on Dave's dime. When asked to accomplish tasks I believe to be above my skill level, I let him know. Dave usually says something like, 'Do the best you can.'  That's what I do, and I've become the better for it."



AUTO DETAILING - ON A CRAZY LEVEL

About his career as a detailer, Kevin says: "The work is tough.  At times, I've felt so foolish because I'd quote a job based upon a days worth of work, and end up spending two days to finish.  This was a regular occurrence for me, and try as I might, I could never cut a corner to save some time, nor leave a blemish that could be removed."

Kevin didn't want to do a good job, he wanted to do a great job.  His 
first concours-level detail was performed on a 1988 BMW M6, owned by his longtime customer and friend, Tom.  The car showed only 1,800 miles on the odometer, as it was essentially brand new.  Kevin and his friend Mike Young detailed regularly scheduled cars during the day, and worked on the M6 at night.  In the final days before the show, they worked non-stop to complete the M6.

"We worked a total of 160 hours on the car.  A large portion of that time was spent dialing in the engine bay and undercarriage.  The M6 was immaculate.  The three of us were elated."


At a subsequent event, the car was eyed by Bruce Canepa of Canepa Design. Traveling back from a concours in Santa Barbara, Bruce stopped in San Luis Obispo to fuel up his rare BMW M1.  A BMW aficionado spotted the car and asked if Bruce would stop by the local BMW CCA event being held at the Madonna Inn, which was located just down the block.

Kevin recalls: 
"When I saw that car, my eyes just about popped out of my head.
Immediately I said to Tom, 'Let's see if he needs help wiping it down!'  He did."


As the day went on, Bruce and Kevin talked shop, and specifically about the M6.  At some point, Kevin mentioned that he had seen his all-time favorite car at the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance, a white Porsche 959.  Bruce said, "I own that car.  It's mine."  Since Kevin foolishly didn't bring any business cards with him, Bruce exchanged cards with another of his friends, Valerie.  A year later, Bruce called Valerie looking for Kevin.

Kevin says:
"I was in Santa Ynez working on a DeTomaso Mangusta, when I received a message from my answering service.  It was from Valerie.  She was in England on vacation.  Her message: 'Bruce Canepa is trying to get ahold of you.  He needs the M1 detailed, right away.'  I got a hold of Bruce, and headed up to Santa Cruz the next day."

"We ended up spending 287 man-hours to prep the M1.  It was the wildest thing I've ever done, and is hard to imagine repeating such an accomplishment now.  The time tally: 9 hours of sleep in six days; 83 total hours working on the M1, with 79 of those hours being non-stop... no sleep; 28 hours straight of rotary polishing.  My helper at the time Jay Price stayed with me to the very end, konking out at the 77-hour mark. Pretty impressive for a 16 year old kid."


Kevin would return to polish Bruce's infamous Porsche 959, which was valued at about $2,000,000.00 at that time.  Looking back, Kevin says he's happy that he turned those one-day jobs into two-day jobs.

"It's likely I would have blown the dough on some super-expensive wax, or a silly donut stretcher.  Besides- I've not wasted the knowledge, nor spent it away."



CAR SHOWS - GOODGUYS® WEST COAST NATIONALS

Car shows are a great place to buy and sell waxes and whatnot.  Realizing this, Kevin made plans to make a series of videos about car detailing and sell them at car shows, along with a variety of car waxes and detailing supplies.  Along the way, he met Meguiar's
 Senior Area Sales Representative for Southern California, Jason Rose. Kevin mentioned his video and car show idea to Jason, and told him his goal was to kick things off in Pleasanton, CA, at the Goodguys® West Coast Nationals.

Although Kevin never made the series of videos, he did make it to the Nationals! Jason and his Northern California counterpart Jeff Brown threw all the support they could muster Kevin's way, making that first event a resounding success.  The trio returned to the Nationals for nine consecutive years.  Mark Willie of Mirka Abrasives joined the team, selling a sanding and polishing kit featuring both Meguiar's and Mirka products.

Kevin recounts:
"At its peak, our booth encompassed over 1,600 square feet.  We had a 15 person crew, all great friends and reps.  We also partnered with Steve Brown of Alpine Electronics of America, who brought along Alpine's latest jaw dropping demo vehicle. The place was incredible!  At one event, we sold over $50k in Meguiar's and Mirka goods, and wrote over 1,200 receipts.  It was a lot of work, but a real good time."

Although Kevin and his crew attended many more events, this one was their favorite.
To view loads of booth photos from the West Coast Nationals, click here. SOON!



MEGUIAR'S NXTti - iNtense eXtreme Training tech institute

Jason Rose and Kevin Brown designed the day-long NXTti classes to deliver a knockout punch worth of information.  NXTti classes pair a maximum of twenty students with five top-level instructors.  A hands-on approach is blended with round table discussions pertaining to techniques, products, and other issues related to sanding and polishing paint.  

Previous classes cost $495.00, and included a sanding or polishing kit valued at more than the entry fee.  The fee ensured the student's commitment to the class, while the kits gave the student's an ability to put their newfound knowledge into action right away.

The 1st NXTti was held at the now-defunct Vintage Auto Museum in Oxnard, California.  The 2nd NXtti was held at The Nethercutt Collection, located in Sylmar, California.

About the classes, Kevin says: "Every now and then I get asked if we plan on hosting more NXTti classes.  The answer is a resounding yes!  The difficulty lies in pulling together the instructors, the venue, and the students, all on a specific weekend."  

Although future NXTti classes will use a similar teaching format, the content will change to better coincide with the advances that have been made in the sanding and polishing industry. If there's another NXTti soon... don't you dare miss it!

To view loads of booth photos from the NXTti classes, click hereSOON!


ALPINE ELECTRONICS OF AMERICA - CUT & RUB SESSIONS

Kevin is a car stereo junkie.  There's just something about a perfect soundstage, or a mirror-rattling bass note that pops the goose-bump-o-meter mounted to his forearms.

While attending the Consumer Electronics Show with some friends, he stopped by the Alpine room to view their latest demo car.  When he saw the Mini Cooper that Steve Brown and Mike Vu created for Alpine, he just had to have it... in his booth at the Goodguys West Coast Nationals!  Luckily, Jason Rose of Meguiar's was in Vegas that very day, so he took Jason by the scruff of his neck and dragged him to the Alpine booth.  Their plan was to meet the Alpine guys, and get that car!

Kevin, Jason, and a gaggle of friends surrounded Steve & Mike, unbeknownst to them. Introductions were made, attaboys were given, and backs were slapped.  The plan... it was working!  Just then, their buddy Billy blurted, "You should bring this car to our Pleasington show!"  Steve looked at Billy and said, "We've been wanting to get into some hot rod events... sounds good, I think we can make it happen."  Wow, done deal!

The car was wildly popular with the Pleasanton crowd.  To return the favor, Kevin and the guys offered to sand and polish their next creation.  Steve and Mike said, "Cool!" In all, four subsequent demo cars were sanded & polished by Kevin, Jason, and the crew.

To view loads of photos of the Cut & Rub Sessions, click here.



SEMA FORD VEHICLE CARE TEAM

Since 2005, Kevin has been a member of the SEMA Ford Vehicle Care Team.  For those of you that have not attended the Specialty Equipment Market Association's annual convention, you're missing out! This event showcases the newest aftermarket automotive gear.  Every car in the booth is customized.  Some are new models, while others are unique one of a kind beauties.  The convention is held in Las Vegas, NV.

Meguiar's hand picks the four to five man team that is responsible for keeping the custom Ford vehicles looking fresh.  At times, it can be difficult squeezing through the thousands of spectators! Needless to say, the cars must be dialed in around the clock. Big personalities, famous car guys, stunning models, and eager to assist factory reps and car builders are happy to chat the day away.  It's a car-guy's carnival of sorts.

Kevin says: "I appreciate the opportunity to work with Ford, Meguiar's, and my team.
We realize the dollars and pride at stake here. We treat the booth and cars as our own."