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Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 04, 2012

Reality TV show springs from custom car shop

By Tara E. Smith
Published in: Lake Norman / Mooresville News
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    Anyone who caught seasons four and five of CMT's "Trick My Truck" may remember cast member Kelvin Locklear as the lead designer.

    Kelvin, 37, and his wife, April, 32, own K&L Collision Center and Outcast Kustoms on Rolling Hills Road in Mooresville's Lakeside Business Park. They purchased the building from Bahari Racing in August and moved to Mooresville along with their three sons.

    They simultaneously operate the collision center for trucks and RVs and film a reality television show based on their custom-made vehicles, which they call "Outcast Kustoms."

    The Locklears moved from Florence, S.C., where they owned and operated K&L Collision Center and K&L Chrome Shop. Both Kelvin and April came from families involved in the trucking industry; they met when April's father bought a trailer from Kelvin. They were married in 1999 and opened a chrome shop in Florence.

    As sales grew in the chrome shop, Kelvin began looking into ways to branch out his business. He learned how to make bumpers and how to paint trucks, and then his interest grew into collision work.

    "When the economy went down," said April, "we learned real fast that we needed to do collision work more instead of other work, because collision work was steady work. That transitioned us real quick into collision work."

    The Locklears still run the two shops in Florence as well as the collision repair and custom car business in Mooresville.

    Over the years, they have gotten a reputation for building any kind of custom part they, or their customers, can imagine.

    The shop in Mooresville is an astounding 45,000 square feet. The Locklears have about nine employees. Ted Musgrave runs the shop, and Ron Horniday is his right-hand man. Workers arrive in shifts to keep the jobs running smoothly.

    "We try to give everybody a fair warning," said April. "If you are here more than 30 minutes, you are going to have a wrench in your hand. Or sandpaper. Or something!"

    Kelvin agreed: "Don't come by and visit without intending to work," he said.

    The "Outcast Kustoms" show is due to air in April on the newly launched Discovery Velocity Channel. Its job is to custom-build vehicles for corporations.

    "We are going to take a used vehicle and turn it into a corporation's image," said April.

    Outcast Kustoms is currently working on a bus for Krispy Kreme. The doughnut company's 75th anniversary is this year, and Outcast Kustoms is outfitting a bus for its representatives to make more than 200 stops across the country. Recently, the Locklears picked up the next vehicle they will be transforming, one for Bristol Motor Speedway.

    Outcast Kustoms is partnering with the Mooresville-based production company Hammerhead Entertainment, which is owned by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., to produce the show. Kelvin believes the relationship between Outcast Kustoms and Hammerhead Entertainment was the right fit for two reasons: Both Kelvin Locklear and Earnhardt have been involved in reality television and have similar groups of fans.

    The Locklears insist that, despite the notoriety that comes with their TV exposure, they are still "normal" - they don't travel in private planes, and they still run to Wal-Mart when they are out of milk. They bought an old English bulldog puppy for their kids, appropriately named "Miss Diesel."

    The Locklears, both North Carolina natives, are just glad to be in North Carolina.

    "I am glad to be back home, in God's country, in Tar Heel Country!" said Kelvin.

    Tara E. Smith is a freelance writer for Mooresville News. Have a story idea for Tara? Email her at tarasnews@hotmail.com.

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