Story: Evan “Evo” Yates
Photography: David Yates
A ghostwriter can only remain behind the scenes for so long before he decides to rock the mic. In the custom-auto world, a similar and all-too-familiar parallel is evident as smaller shops seldom garner the credit they deserve. As unfair as it may seem, it’s an inevitable part of the business, because most shops simply cannot complete everything in-house, causing them to outsource particular aspects of a build. And while some pout about it, others make power moves to come up, which is the case with Monster Customs of Atlanta, Georgia.
Owners Terry Dobbs and Jim Florek have been in the custom-auto game for more than 20 years, both beginning in the car-audio realm and eventually branching out to other automotive avenues. In 2010 Terry and Jim decided to leave their respective shops and embark on a new journey, starting their own business and doing things the way they wanted: the right way. “We figured we’ve been doing this forever and have known each other forever,” explains Jim. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why aren’t we doing a shop together where we can do it exactly how we want it?’” With a meager 600-square-foot, one-bay shop, Monster Customs was born, scoring jobs via customer referrals and labor-intensive chores that larger shops couldn’t handle. Over time, Monster rapidly became, as they dubbed themselves, Atlanta’s best-kept secret. Almost three years later, Terry and Jim have decided to crawl out from behind the shadows and go all-in with an 11,000-square-foot, full-fledged facility. “This is our last-ditch effort,” Terry says. “Do it big and see if it works, or get out of this industry forever.”
Terry and Jim recognized a void in the custom-car industry that started with the customer experience. “The industry is changing—all these companies are online, and you can buy this stuff anywhere,” explains Terry. “So we wanted to create a situation where we can make people feel like their dollar is being spent the right way.” He continues, “You can come in here, sit down and have proper attention paid to you. We want you to feel special, no matter if you’re spending $200 or $5,000.” Jim adds, “A typical retail store gets a commissioned sales guy on you who is going to sell you products he gets the most commission from, and we don’t do that.”
Part of the customer experience at Monster Customs is the opportunity to witness everything the shop has to offer firsthand. “We are the most OCD owners you’ll ever meet; we’re like owners and janitors, because we are constantly cleaning,” says Jim. “We keep it as clean as possible 24/7, so there’s no clutter.”
Terry adds, “Every client can walk into our shop and watch while we’re working—we have nothing to hide.”
Coupled with the friendly ambience, the installation techniques used ensure limited issues. “We do installs the right way: We solder and heat-shrink every connection, and we don’t believe in crimps or using butt connectors,” proclaims Jim.
“Everybody has to bag and label every part. We’re as anal as it gets,” says Terry. “We literally build every car like it’s our own—as long as we stick to that, we can never go wrong.”