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Meanwhile, halfway across the country, brothers Rod and Kevin Pickett were also building show trucks, and, like 4 State, creating original customized works of art for big rigs in their own style.
“We grew up with trucks,” says big brother Rod. “We’ve been around them all our lives. Dad had trucks and he did all his own work on them, and helping him is how we started to learn. We loved it. We’d fix anything we could find. Whatever we got for Christmas, we’d chop it up and work on it to see what we could do with it.”
The Picketts started driving as soon as they were old enough to get CDLs and began customizing trucks professionally in the mid-’90s.
“We started doing custom work, and people we knew would come to us to do things for them, and that’s how it started,” Rod says. “My brother and I, we really don’t have any particular area of expertise. When we were growing up, we did a little bit of everything and we learned how to do it ourselves. We learned how to do lights before there were LEDs and if you put 100 lights on a truck you had to know what you were doing or you’d have a dash fire.
“Today, we still like to do our own work, whatever it is. We can fabricate, do wire, paint, polish, and work with aluminum or stainless steel. I bought my first cars before I was 16 from money I made polishing aluminum.”
The 4 State guys and the Picketts met at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., in 2002, liked each other and found they shared the same customizing philosophy. They started going to more shows together, and it was at one of those that they became overnight reality television sensations (see “Star Vehicle” sidebar on page 27).
“We were building cool trucks, and they were building cool trucks,” says Martin, “and we started hanging out on the phone and sending pictures back and forth. The truck-customizing community is fairly small, and most everybody knows everybody. But we each liked what the other was doing, we sort of had the same ideas and senses of what would work and what wouldn’t.”
Richardson is the audio guy. But he doesn’t simply install sound machines – he creates an entire interior into which they fit like a hand in a glove.
“I started out in car audio systems, just sort of dabbling with them,” says Richardson. “My family built houses, and my brother and I worked with them when we were young. That’s where we developed a lot of our imagination. I worked with wood and wiring and learned about it, and that helps today when I am trying to imagine how to do something. Cars are OK to work on, but trucks are like houses on wheels.”
But Richardson also worked periodically on trucks. His father played guitar in a blues and Southern rock band. “They had to have trucks to haul everything around,” he says. He was often along for the ride and helped keep the trucks running. He “learned a lot doing that,” he says. “I really wanted to be a trucker. I think at some time in their lives, young boys all want to be truckers when they see the big rigs out there rolling by.”
Ryan “Ryno” Templeton, a southern Californian, was the only latecomer to the truck customizing profession. In fact, the tractor he painted for the pilot of Trick My Truck was the first big rig he had ever painted. Now he’s considered the best there is.
“My folks were artistically inclined,” says Templeton, “and I started drawing when I was real little. I’ve been doing it ever since. Right before the show started I was doing choppers, cars, murals and movies, but I started out on T-shirts. Yep, T-Shirts.”
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