Mr. Scrape Customs - Custom Truck Shop Tour
Doing Big Thangs In Da South
What do you do when you need some 'bags installed, a truck painted, a sick stereo set-up, or even a paint job? Well, if you're Mike Lee from Sumter, South Carolina, you pull the wife's car out of the garage and do all the work yourself. This worked fairly easily until his friends and those around him found out the high-quality work that he was capable of doing in his own garage. Once the cat was out of the bag, they started bringing him their stuff to work on. Back in July 2003, after a few jobs, a move to a little one-bay garage was in the works. Once in the small shop, a customer brought by a Dodge Durango for Mike to 'bag. This customer was Robert Williams. When Robert came back to pick up his SUV, that simple 'bag job turned into a partnership. Mike and Robert joined forces and rented a much larger shop across town that included a storefront. After hiring a few more employees (Cory Osteen, Robbie Casselman, and Neal Welch) to help with the larger workload, it was time to do something that would really get their shop's name out there and their work noticed. Robert purchased a '92 GMC Stepside as what started out as just a shop truck, but the first time they pulled it into the garage with a bed full of supplies, Mike climbed under it and started debating on what he could do to make this truck cooler and wound up building a full-blown show truck. They 'bagged the truck, did a kick-ass interior, and dressed up the engine a little. Then it was sent across town to a paint shop to get a crazy paint job laid down. The day they finished it, the truck was shot for the cover of our sister publication, Truckin'. Once the cover and feature came out, the shop started seeing more work than they could handle, so a couple more employees were brought onboard, making a total of 10 employees. Shortly after this, the guy who was renting the back side of the building they were in closed down and this left more space available for them to expand their shop. This put the new shop right over 6,000 square feet, which was plenty of room to grow into. After some late-night shop conversations (and a few beers), the guys decided that if they were to become the shop to go see, they had to become an all-out "one-stop shop." They quickly added a paint booth and paint-mixing room to the new rear section of the shop. Now there was nothing in a complete build they couldn't do in-house.
The first time we were invited to the shop for a photo shoot we were amazed at the variety of vehicles they were working on. There was everything from an ATV on 24s to the body-dropped Xterra on the cover of this issue...and even a few donks. One was even rolling on a set of 28-inch wheels. (Hey, money's money, so no big job is turned down.) When the guys at the shop say they do big thangs, they mean just that! First thing you come across when walking through the front door is their Wall of Fame full of plaques of the various magazine features and cover vehicles they have built over the past two years. The Wall of Fame is lit by the glare from all the 22-inch-and-bigger wheels they have on racks around the showroom. Behind the custom-painted counter complete with a showcase of suspension and billet parts is Billy's table and stand. Billy is their in-house airbrush artist who is capable of everything from logo duplication to some of the sickest freehand skulls and demons we've seen. He is also responsible for much of the shop's interior design, from the $100 bill and flames in the office to the employee mural and even all the counter artwork. Once through the airbrushed "employees only" door, we found the fabrication section of the shop where all the welding and cutting goes on. We even saw Roberts's oldest son doing a little grinding on the frame of a truck. Don't worry! He had his safety glasses on and responsible adult supervision. Well, maybe not responsible, but at least he had an adult supervising. Past this section of the shop, we walked into their body shop and paint booth, where all of the shiny stuff gets laid down.
When we sat down with the Mr. Scrape crew and asked them what the best part of having a truly one-stop shop was, the unanimous answer was: being able to shut down a show when they unload their trailers. Finding a shop that is capable of all this is hard to do, but as for them being able to build you a full-out show-stopping cover truck, Robbie states: "Our only limit is your dough." A lot of shops stick to one type of work such as paint, suspension, etc., but having the ability to touch every aspect of a build sets this shop apart from the rest. They put it best when they say: "We have badass mini-trucks laying body beside cars with 31 inches of ground clearance on 28-inch wheels in our parking lot on a daily basis. We love being able to find vehicles that have never been done or 'can't be done' and doing them on a level that no one can deny the quality. We always have the attitude of 'we can do that.' We have been tested on saying our limit is your money many times and have always prevailed."
Shortly after you read this, the Mr. Scrape crew will be breaking ground on their new shop across town, which is planned to have over 15,000 square feet to be able to accommodate even more custom vehicles and more employees. They would like to dedicate this article to the memory of one of their good friends and fellow employees, Jamie Fryer, who was tragically killed in an ATV accident shortly after we were there shooting this shop tour. He was a big part in building both of this month's cover vehicles as well, and his lending hand will always be missed but never forgotten (1979-2006).
Mr. Scrape Customs Inc.Sumter, SC 29150