JPFreek: So is that the principle you conduct business by?
Hunter: Of course. I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the counter, and I know how I want to be treated. My customers are just regular guys with a day job pushing pencils or grinding out somewhere, and their Jeep or truck is their weekend escape – it’s what they do for fun. I know its cliché, but it’s the Golden Rule, ‘treat others as you would like to be treated.’
JPFreek: Your customers…Hands on or hands off?
Hunter: I love it when they’re hands on. It helps because he’ll come by the shop a few times a week to check on the project, and we’ll get to talk about the details. “Hey, I was thinking about this angle here . . .” and we’ll come up with some new wicked part for the
project. It’s a lot of fun and I can make them happy by creating their dream.
JPFreek: There has to be some hands off guys though, right?
Hunter: Sure. Sometimes I get the guy who says, “I just want a badass bumper.” (laughs) As if I know what he’s thinking about, right? From there, I’ll pick his brain until he bleeds, and finally I understand. And that’s what I’ll build for him. Once in a while someone will come through the door with professional drawings and will just hand ‘em over. “Here, build this.” Okay.
JPFreek: So, in the batcave shop of yours, what’s your favorite tool?
Hunter: My camera phone. It’s a ton of fun to snap a quick progress photo and text it to a customer. Think about it: you’re sitting in a boring-ass meeting at work looking at charts and graphs when your phone vibrates. You check it to find a photo of your new roof rack, or bumper mounted up to your Jeep for a test. I can’t count the times I’ve heard, “Dude! You made my day when you sent that.” A camera phone is pretty cool. I couldn’t do that 10 years ago.
JPFreek: How do you blow off steam?
Hunter: Oh man . . . go down a dirt road, sit by a campfire, eat my freeze dried meals, and sleep in the back of my truck to remind myself why this is fun.
JPFreek: You’ve been in the business for over 10 years. Do you expect another 10?
Hunter: Definitely. It’s been a long hard road but I am happy with what I have created. I don’t intend on growing my shop, as in I won’t be hiring employees. I have learned that the customer likes working with one person. With this kind of work, trust goes along way. I want to remain a one man crew, even though this poses additional challenges like obtaining health insurance, putting something away for retirement, and having a heavy workload. When I turn 40 years old, I’ll re-evaluate. I am enjoying the ride.