Author: Kelsey Lauchner
The truck showing world has been growing immensely over the last so many years, more and more people are getting interested in building their trucks for show purposes, but also for racing and pulling purposes. Including a lot more women, which is awesome to see in this industry.
I’ve seen some pretty sweet rigs out there, and I can’t wait to see what else is yet to come in the future of truck building. We’ve seen a lot of new product hit the shelves in the last ten years, adjustable hydraulic lift kits, wider offset wheels, different interior accessories, full body vinyl wraps, the list goes on. I could write a huge article based only on newer products, but I won’t.
Have you ever wanted to ask some of the big dogs some questions about tips and tricks, dos and don’ts, and advice about building? We’re going to try and help you with that. Here at Diesel Doll we encourage you to ask questions,set goals, push your limits, exceed them and then some.
I’ve teamed up with some of the coolest people in the show truck industry to find out what advice they can offer to the newer builders. All of these people I've interviewed have exhibited their truck at SEMA at some point.
What is SEMA?
SEMA is one of the top shows everyone wants to be at. But how do you get into it? How do you classify your truck as nice enough to be a part of such a big event? Where do you even begin, and how? How do you go about getting sponsors and what does it mean to have them? How do you handle the stress of the outpouring amount of money and limited time? What’s the steps someone should take to get their truck ready for something like that?
Well, I’ve got some of the best, willing to help you answer those questions. From newbies to multi-SEMA builders, they’re here to give you their inputs and suggestions. We’ve got people like Tony Halaris, Eddie Sanchez, Pleasant Cook and more! Plus, you have me. (Insert laughing emoji)
We’re going to try and answer some of the top questions people tend to ask and need to know when it comes to getting into the showing business, along with some suggestions from our pros.
Let's Talk Sponsors! How do you attain sponsors?
I’ve heard this question a lot myself, generally followed by, “No one seems interested in my truck”.
Ask yourself, what do you have to offer these companies? Are you spiking their interest enough or do you just seem interested in their product simply for the chance at free items?
You’re going to need to write up a proposal describing in detail how the truck is now how it sits and what you plan to do with it in the future. List all the shows you have plans of attending. Send pictures of the truck currently, explain what makes your truck cool and interesting.
Have a Rendering done. Strictly Custom Designs, Keg Media and Truck Guru all do incredible work, if you’re trying to figure out who to have do it. We have linked their websites, and you can visit their sites to see their work!
Most importantly, Sell yourself. What’s the benefit of them sponsoring you specifically? Tell them, because if they sponsor you, you work for them. The reason companies will consider a sponsorship is to get more product out there and on vehicles in hopes that they’ll gain more sales.
Ways to do that- Advertise. Post on social media, run their decals on your vehicle, wear their apparel, push their product. Be their salesman. The more business you bring them, the better chance you have at building a better relationship with these companies.
Whatever you do, don’t go into a sponsorship request asking for free product. These products still cost companies money and 9 times out of 10 they still have to try and break even. Chances are they won’t be out to make money off of you, but usually they aren’t able to justify losing money.
We asked our friend and current SEMA builder what advice he could give to a new builder when it comes to sponsors and how to gain the interest of companies, here’s what he said:
“For this being my first build and reaching out to companies that I did myself, basically put yourself out there even if you don’t want to share parts about you to people. That was the hardest part for me due to me keeping personal stuff to myself. Also, include what you will do to promote their product for the company you are reaching out too.”
- Eddie Sanchez (SEMA 2018)
How do you get started showing your build?
If you are nervous about venturing into the showing world- DON'T BE. Everyone started out somewhere.
Your time, financial situation and goals will all effect your building timeline so don’t worry if it’s taking you longer to build your truck than it takes others. The nice thing about the showing community is everyone has the same passion and same goals, they’re generally all very supportive to fellow builders.
Start by attending local or close shows, whether it be multi-class or strictly truck shows/meets. Get that truck noticed. Once you start feeling comfortable with it, start traveling to shows and meets.
Begin posting to your social media platforms- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Join those groups that your truck fits into, whether it be Ram, Ford, GMC, Chevy, Etc (Diesel Doll has a great group!). Post that thing! Use those hashtags (people seriously do look at those believe it or not), Tag the companies that are on the truck so far, send picture submissions to different pages for them to post. Any publicity is a step in the right direction.
Try and meet up with some other builders and do photoshoots. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure.
We asked Pleasant Cook (4x4 Barbie) what got her interest in building show trucks, how she got started and what steps she suggests a new builder take to get started.
How do you handle the stress of building?
A lot of people don’t realize that building a show truck, let alone a SEMA truck, is extremely stressful.
You’re constantly waiting on parts, hoping you’re building it correctly and watching your bank account drop quickly. Plus, if you don’t know how to work on the stuff or have friends willing to help, talk about those shop bills.
If you’re preparing for Sema, don’t even get me started on the time crunch. No matter how much time you start in advance something will always come up and cause issues in your plans and 9 times out of 10 you’ll be running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to get everything finished and make sure it doesn’t look like a complete hack job. Some have a hard time handling the stress and others aren’t even phased by the stress.
A lot of builders will send their truck off to a shop and have most of the work done, which seems to help quite a bit in the stress department, I've heard. Those of us who choose to do all their own work are generally about ready to pass out most of the time. I’m not sure if it’s due to stress or exhaustion. Either way, it’s a lot of work for everyone involved. I still haven’t found a way to relax so I'm going to ask someone else for their input here. We asked another good friend how he handles all the stress involved in building a show truck, especially with all the outgoing money and time crunches.
“I plan ahead of time and make sacrifices where I can to make things work. A lot of things are just out of your hands.”
- Tony Halaris (Sema 2017)
In conclusion we asked everyone the same question to see how their answers vary.
~With what you know now, what’s one vital piece of advice anyone should get when it comes to building.
Tony- “Get references on any shop doing work for you. Also ask for referrals from people that have something similar, and plan for 30% higher cost.”
Eddie- “Always make sure you have finances to do the build and don’t make deadlines because they don’t exist to some people. But always keep them reminded that things have to be done in a timely manner so you can move on to get the next step done within reason”
Pleasant- “Stay true to your own style. Don’t try to be like everybody else.”
Scott- “Choose the companies you work with carefully,the right company makes the process go way smoother! Them having your back to make sure the build gets complete takes a lot of stress away also!”
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the professionals, ask them for their opinions and suggestions. They enjoy what they do, and generally they’ll love helping you find that joy just as much!
Well, that it for me on this one, see you guys soon!
- Kelsey Lauchner
Special THANK YOU to Kelsey and all that helped with this article!