Bartender Turned Entrepreneur Bootstraps a Thriving Automotive Customization Shop with Plans to Remake the Industry

By: Apex Customs, LLC | Photos Courtesy of: Apex Customs, LLC/PR Newswire

As a classic car enthusiast, Tyler Copenhaver spent his spare time between bartending and school purchasing rundown classic cars and restoring them to make a little extra cash to pay his way through a degree in Bio-Chemistry at Arizona State University. When the neighbors started complaining about the eyesores in the driveway, he scoured the classifieds for a space to work on his side projects away from the judgmental eyes of the neighborhood.

While Tyler Copenhaver didn’t set out to build one of the most respected automotive customization shops in the west coast, his interactions with restoration shops and hard to find parts dealers quickly revealed an opportunity in the market.

With a lack of continuity between service offerings at shops around the city and customer service a shockingly low priority for the shops he could find, Tyler sought to open a shop that would offer all the customization services you need under one roof. No more towing your vehicle all over the city to the tire shop, the body shop, and engine builder just to complete a project. His number one priority was to make customer service and ethical practices the foundation of every project he took on.

Founded in 2014 on a shoestring budget, a commitment to honesty, and a drive to do whatever it took to make customers happy with their service, Tyler created Apex Customs, a full-service automotive shop dedicated to providing automotive enthusiasts with all of their customization needs under one roof.

What Tyler lacked in capital to start the capital-intensive business, he made up for in tenacity, thriftiness, 100-hour work weeks, negotiation skills, living on rice and beans, and an unmatched ability to go above and beyond for his customers.

Apex Customs Tyler Copenhaver Ex Bartender
Sample of Work from Apex Customs, LLC (Pr Newswire)

Apex Customs is a bootstrapped business, founded with Tyler’s tips from the bar, a handful of credit cards, and consistently rolling the revenues of the business right back into growing the service offerings. To date, Apex has never brought in a large investor or taken a bank loan to build the impressive operation he operates today.

While growing the business, Tyler conducted expensive research on every service and vendor by studying every detail down to the chemistry of the product and tested every product and supplier on his own project cars before offering the service to customers.

By day Tyler worked on customer cars in between classes at ASU and worked late into the night tending bar and sneaking in homework to generate the cash to keep the business growing. The business started with vinyl wrapping cars in a shabby metal shack and has grown to a four-building shop with multiple bays, lifts and an impressive team of technicians offering every customization service an enthusiast would need to build his dream ride.

“Tyler’s ability to sell services, keep customers happy, coordinate multiple projects, manage staff, and come up with money out of thin air to keep the lights on in a pinch is nothing short of a miracle. He’s the most tenacious entrepreneur I have ever met,” said Elliot Hutchens, Vice President of Apex Customs.

Tyler brought in his childhood friend Elliot early in the operations to help with the technical, business, and accounting side of the business. With his background in Business Operations, Information Technology, and Accounting, Elliot has been instrumental in assisting Tyler to navigate the nuances of operating the business side of Apex Customs.

Tyler and Elliot grew up together and formed a bond through their similarities in dreaming big and working hard to make those dreams come true. Both came from meager means and started working full-time jobs at age 14 to support themselves. They have an unmatched work ethic and believe you can achieve anything you set your mind to despite everyone around them telling they would never amount to anything.

“Our vision is to build the largest and most successful shop in the country. We want to remake an industry that tends to put customers last by becoming advisers to their customization projects, helping them throughout the entire process without selling them on unnecessary services just to boost our profit. What gets us up in the morning is helping our customers turn their visions and dreams into reality,” said Tyler Copenhaver, President of Apex Customs.

“What keeps us going through the challenges is the belief that the success of Apex will provide us the means to give back to the community and help other children that grew up in challenging environments. We want to help children who are less fortunate achieve their own dreams.”

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