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The Only Thing Lower than the Elevation in the Midwest

From a part time hobby to habitual workday, Phat Phabz in Oklahoma has risen to the top of the industry over the last few years to say the very least. Since day one, Jake McKiddie has had a love for the truck scene and a passion to break all the rules of what can and cannot be done, and that is something that has never changed no matter how his company has grown. With the grand opening of his new shop and ever-expanding team eagerly behind him, it is safe to say we will be seeing much more of the Phat Phabz name for years to come. Get to know Jake and the crew in our latest interview with him!

 Street Trucks:  “Hey fellas! First off, how is life treating you lately? Being 45 days from SEMA 2019, we assume it is hectic as ever”

 Phat Phabz:  “We are good, but we are as busy as we’ve ever been. This close to SEMA, it is a whole bunch of chaos with a little bit of organization. We haven’t quite hit the balls-to-the-wall part of our crunch yet, but it’s coming very soon.”

 St:  “How awesome is the new shop? From the looks of the grand opening, it’s a massive facility.”

 PP:  “The shop is 4.5 times bigger than our old shop. Prior to this, we had two lifts and we could only work on two to three vehicles at once. Now, we have seven lifts and 11,000 square feet to expand into. More tools, more employees and more headaches!”

 St:  “You don’t only build trucks, is that correct?”

 PP:  “While trucks are our bread and butter, we do dabble into other things. We’ve built full chasses for quite a few old school cars including a 1966 Chevelle convertible, a 1961 Bel Air and also a current SEMA build we just sent to paint. It’s a 1956 Corvette. Sometimes we even do dump truck repair for my dad, brother and mom.”

 St:  “Generally speaking, how many projects do you have going on at one time these days?”

 PP:  “Now that we have more lifts and room, we now have six to seven builds going at a time. The goal with the larger shop is to produce these more trucks quicker. Now, we just need a bit more manpower to accommodate our goals.”

 St:  “Around about how many full builds does Phat Phabz complete in a single calendar year?”

 PP:  “Normally we turn out 12 to 15 full builds a year. Our goal is to double, maybe triple that in the near future. We first have to get into a flow/rhythm in this new facility.”

 St:  “Is there any work that you sub out? Powdercoat, paint, chrome?”

 PP:  “We outsource all powdercoating as well as painting. We don’t do any bodywork or paint in-house.” Then they added in, “We might dive off into that at a later date, but at the moment we have about three paint shops that we send work to depending on what the customer wants/needs.”

 St:  “Do you have any personal projects at the moment?”

 Jake of Phat Phabz:  “I, personally, have quite a few pans in the fire. I purchased Matt Holden’s 2017 F-350 short bed dually that we built him a few years ago. It’s currently under the knife getting a color change on the outside as well as inside. I also own a 2001 Chevy 3500 dually that’s lowered on 24s and soon to be bagged, and a 1966 Buick Wildcat convertible that’s bagged on 24-inch Bonspeed wheels and freshly painted. In addition to those, [I have] a 1950 Ford Shoebox that was built by BBT Fabrications. It’s a bare metal, full chassis, chopped and complete custom floors, front to back. It’s one hell of a car, but just no time to work on it. Customers come first. Lastly and most recently, I ordered the new body style 2020 Chevy 3500 dually from GM that I am patiently waiting on to be built. It was supposed to make this year’s SEMA, but doesn’t look like it will be here in time. So, keep an eye out next year for that build. It should debut at LST 2020.”

 St:  “What is the highest number of SEMA trucks you have released in a single year?”

 PP:  “In the past, we have steadily averaged four trucks a year at SEMA. Last year, me and my partner Matt Holden (together we are CAM Media), placed 12 vehicles in the trade show. This year, we are close to reaching that number again.”

 St:  “When you go to SEMA, are you looking for anything specific or just generally shaking hands and checking out new products?”

 PP:  “Although there is a lot of shaking hands, SEMA has turned into a full work week for us. We spend the four days going booth to booth looking for placements for the following year. Also, shaking the hands of this year’s placements and sponsors of those builds.”

 St:  “What do you do outside of building trucks to keep your sanity?”

 Jake:  “Trucks are pretty much life. If I am not in the shop working, I am on the road to a show or doing something truck related. Every once in a while, the wife will drag me to the lake or camping. Lately, I have actually found it quite amazing to attend the NHRA top fuel drag races. Hearing and feeling those cars sure does something for me inside and makes me smile; not to mention the burning eyeballs from the Nitro fuel!”

 St:  “Do you think your process is perfected at this time or is there always a curve ball you have to learn from?”

 PP:  “If, at any point, you think you know it all, you’re horribly mistaken. There is always something to learn in this industry. That is not just saying that from doing the newest body style out, either. There are new techniques and tools always being developed. Anyone who thinks they know it all is a damned fool. Learning new things is something that helps keep a little bit of sanity for sure and keeps pushing us forward.”

 St:  “How long have Phat Phabz doors been open to new customers?”

 Jake:  “I’ve been bagging trucks since 1999 in my parent’s garage. After a few years of that, I moved into a shop in Oklahoma City. That lasted for quite a few years until I merged into a larger shop with Charles Degand of CD Designs. Several more years passed until we both decided to part ways and build/buy our own places. My place was a 2,400 square foot shop at my house. I worked there for six years while hiring my first full time employee, Kyle Dimetroff. Shortly after, I hired Sean French to help with the rest of the tasks that Kyle and I didn’t know how to do, such as internet and shipping. So, a final answer to this question… this is my 20th year doing suspension.”

 St:  “Are you by appointment only nowadays?”

 PP:  “Yes, any full builds these days are by appointment. We have hovered at a year waiting list in the old shop. Moving into the larger facility with more hands on deck is to remedy that waiting list. I mean, who wants to wait a year to build a truck?”

 St:  “How many fabricators do you have on staff at Phat Phabz?”

 PP:  “The head fabricator is Kyle Dimetroff, the head sheet metal fabricator is Jeremy Buhl, and a man who dabbles into very little fab, more of a head with a hat, is Sean French.”

 St:  “What do you guys take into consideration before accepting a new project?”

 PP:  “We will pretty much build anything that is within our abilities. As long as there is a decent budget to build the said vehicle and no corners cut, we will build it.”

 St:  “What are some signs that you should turn down doing a project?”

 PP:  “When a customer wants to skimp on important details, or do complete builds on an inadequate budget. Those are signs of a customer that needs to be turned away. Those customers usually ask, “Well, can you do it for this much?”, and those are not going to be our customers. We are sure there is “someone” out there that can do it for that much, and that’s fine. At the end of the day, we work hard to maintain our quality, and quality costs. The Phat Phabz crew all have mouths to feed, lights to keep on and doors to stay open.”

 St:  “How fun is it to take apart a brand new truck?”

 PP:  “Most builds we just did ourselves in overdrive doing what we do. However, doing a brand new truck and even a brand new body style is the most exciting. It quickly takes you back to your roots of when you were younger, trying to get your first truck to lay out. You are uncertain of the path you’ll take to get it there. That’s where excitement gets out back into your daily life, disassembling a truck knowing that the workers at the assembly line just put that truck together just for us to take it back apart. Jake tells the guys in the shop over and over, we probably take the new body styles apart prior to any dealership does, especially to the extent that we do.”

 St:  “Where is the best place that our readers can keep up to date with your builds?”

 PP:  “The best place to keep up with us is, of course, the social medias. Facebook and Instagram @phat_phabz is updated quite frequently with what’s going on in the shop.”

 St:  “We noticed you have been pushing your YouTube channel a lot. Is that something you’re personally involved in or just an additional form of marketing?”

 Jake:  “The YouTube channel is the push of the guys. They’ve been wanting that for a while. Having Sean French in house, who owns SoloFilms, has all of his old filming equipment. I think he’s one of the best filing editors out there and is able to make us dummies look dumber on camera. We have a blast doing it and hope the viewers like our content as much as we like to produce it.”

 St:  “Do you have any major goals over the next five to 10 years, or is it just the mindset of doing great work now and see what the future holds?”

 PP:  “I’d say our major goal over the next years is to continue to grow as a business and continue to grow with quality builds. As long as our customers keep driving their vehicles daily and across the country, I’m sure that will make us as happy as anything.”

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