For more than 20 years, Ed and Cindy Steidler owned a successful restaurant equipment company in Bismarck, N.D. Several years ago, their son, Bryce, attended a school where he learned how to customize cars and other vehicles, including boats.
The Steidlers sold their company, moved to the Valley and, two years ago, they combined their business experiences with their son’s hands-on craft skills to start a new company called the BEC Sound Dezign.
The family-owned business — BEC stands for Bryce, Ed and Cindy - is among a growing number of vehicle custom shops in the Valley and the nation and also is part of a culture epitomized by the popular MTV show, “Pimp My Ride.”
“We watch the show regularly,” said Ed Steidler, 52, who, with his wife handles the bookkeeping, purchasing and other marketing aspects of their company at the new Broadway Commerce Park at the former Motorola plant site at 2340 W. Broadway Road, Mesa.
The family owned a 2,300-square foot shop at Val Vista Drive and McDowell Road until they moved into the new center two months ago.
“Customizing a vehicle can get very involved — and pricey,” Bryce said as he was installing a sophisticated sound system in a four-wheeled, hand-painted all-terrain vehicle.
“Pimp My Ride” features the converting of a vehicle in poor condition and restoring and customizing it. The original show was hosted by rapper Xzibit and it has since expanded internationally and can be seen, for example, on German TV as “Pimp My Fahrrad” (Pimp My Bicycle) and Quebec, Canada as “Pimp mon char” Char is Quebec French for car.
The Steidlers, meanwhile, admittedly are not looking for walk-in, retail customers who want to purchase new equipment for their vehicles, although they can - and do - purchase and sell special items.
Instead, they prefer working with owners of vehicles who are willing to spend as much as $30,000 to $65,000 or more for special designs, although some projects cost as little as $150.
“We don’t have a very fancy entrance,” said Ed, referring to a nearly barren lobby that opens to a 6,500-square foot warehouse.
“In fact, our shop sign is barely noticeable.”
But the company’s large warehouse is jammed with vehicles at various stages of customizing that would (and some did) easily fit on the stage of a recent auto show in Las Vegas sponsored by the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
Like the Hummer H3 that contains six — yes, six — screens that can show six different movies simultaneously.
Or, the Hummer H2 owned by a computer specialist who asked that a computer screen be installed near the dashboard and the round mouse be inserted next to the driver, where a gear shift handle would normally be located.
“We make sure all the customized changes are safe and conform with the law,” Bryce said.
“You’ve got to know what you’re doing or you could really screw up.” He said the cans of nitrous oxide used to enhance the burning of fuel could be dangerous, for instance, if not properly installed. Also, the extension of tires and other mechanical alterations must be done properly to avoid problems.