Twelve miles west of Philadelphia, in Media, Pennsylvania is Brad Fab Industries' small, tucked-away shop space. The building is just big enough to house two handfuls of projects, a second story office/loft space, and a few “someday” projects out in the back. There isn't one square foot of space that isn't taken up by machinery, tools and parts, or trucks, but when walking through there isn't a strangling, cramped feeling.
Brad Fab is a young, wall-to-wall fabrication enterprise that has vowed to keep both quality and customer at the top of their priority list. And with the army of trucks already brandishing Brad Fab craftsmanship, and the waiting list of trucks just itching to get theirs, it's obvious that this talented group of guys are doing something right. Continue reading as we chat with shop owner Steve Bradley and in-house pinstripe artist Mike “Hoff” Grosso about the beginnings and future of Brad Fab Industries.
Mini Truckin': Hey, Steve! Thanks for the awesome tour. So how did you get into the fabrication game?
Steve: I got into it the day I walked into a shop and asked for a custom rollcage to be built for my car. The guy there told me he didn't know how to build one from scratch, but that he could weld in a pre-made cage. I walked out of there knowing that I had to be the one who could give people the chance to have one-of-a-kind fabricated work. I looked into welding classes, signed up, and really learned the trade while working at a hotel in Philly. I continued to teach myself for a year-and-a-half, and then landed a job building stainless tanker trailers.
MT: That's pretty cool. So when did you start working on vehicles?
Steve: I built a fuel cell for a friend who was bodydropping his Sonoma, which is still driving around today. I built the cell in my friend's shop, and we soon became business partners. My skills and ideas were starting to progress into what I am building today. This was just the start of the madness.
MT: How much time passed before you decided to open your own shop?
Steve: Well, that business relationship lasted 4-5 years before I went out on my own. I've been building custom vehicles since 1997, and have been welding and fabricating for 8 years now, but Brad Fab Industries was finally founded in February 2011.
MT: Surely being your own boss was worth the wait but what was your biggest fear going into it?
Steve: My worst fear when I started this shop was whether I would be able to bring in enough business just to keep the electricity on to run the welders.
MT: Seems like you guys are doing a great job so far. So, this shop is your first location, correct? Have you thought about expanding where you're at now?
Steve: Yep, this is our first and only place of business. We are looking into expanding not only our shop but the office as well. Hopefully, we can work in a storefront, too.
MT: Damn, that would be cool! But one cool thing about your shop now is the upstairs loft area that has been taken over by pinstriper Mike Grosso, known to many as the “Hoff.” By looking at the projects in the building, you guys do a lot of collaboration work together. Must be nice having a painter in the building.
Steve: Having a painter in-house is great. Hoff has done work on quite a few of our projects as well as decorating the office with all of his own artwork.
MT: This next question is for Hoff. We heard that you actually started pinstriping because you had some down time after an auto accident? Is this true?
Hoff: Yes that's true. I got hurt in the accident and wasn't able to continue with my normal 9-5 job. I always liked looking at pinstriped art on trucks and hot rods at shows so I decided that I would give it a try and bought a brush and a few cans of 1 Shot and began to paint a little each day on random objects around the house. After almost two years of striping anything that would stay still long enough to get a few lines on, it kind of turned into a career and it's pretty awesome.
MT: You must've put in a sh*t load of practice man, your work is gorgeous! What's the most ridiculous item you've striped for someone?
Hoff: So far the weirdest thing and smallest thing I have pinstriped would have to be a chick's fingernail. She ran up to my booth at a show and I laid down a couple lines. Girls' body parts would be fun to stripe more often, so if any girls are up for it, I'm ready for ya!
MT: Hear that ladies? Let this man put some paint on you! OK, it's your turn again, Steve. Who else makes up the roster for team Brad Fab and what are their roles?
Steve: Team Brad Fab consists of Mike the “Hoff” Grosso here who is our graphic designer and painter, I'm the owner and head fabricator, Jimmy Ferg is our other fabricator, Sandy Signs serves as financial consultant and team mom who keeps everyone out of trouble, Chris Barcus, our auto technician and fabricator apprentice, and our good friends who are always available to lend a hand; Matt Bruder, Ryan (Bread) Brennan, Donnie Whisler, Andrew (Moose) Musial, and many more, as well as all of our families.
MT: Sounds like you got a great supporting cast around you. So for those who don't know, what does Brad Fab specialize in?
Steve: We specialize in custom one-of-a-kind handmade metal fabricated products. We mainly deal with custom suspensions, exhaust systems, manifolds, fuel cells, rollcages and sheetmetal.
MT: It's apparent that you work on a ton of trucks, what percentage of your business comes from just minitrucks?
Steve: I would have to say about 75-percent of our business comes from minitruck-related custom air suspension.
MT: Well, it's been great chatting with you guys. It's that time to say goodbye, sadly. What's the best way to reach Brad Fab Industries and Pinstriping by Hoff?
Steve: The best way to reach Brad Fab & Pinstriping by Hoff is to call the shop or email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow us both on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest updates.
MT: You guys are regular social butterflies! Any last words?
Steve: We would like to thank all of our friends and families and especially my parents who always pushed me to be the best I could be without any compromise and to never give up. To all of our loyal customers who have stuck with us over the years and have allowed us to go over and above on their projects in order to push our own creativity to the next level. Werd Up!