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Meet Tyler Cox and Cassie Munro of TC Customz

November 11, 2010
Cox, who graduated from Kennett High School last June, runs TC Customz with his girlfriend, Cassie Munro, now a senior at KHS. They work out of Cassie's Uncle Bill Bell's auto body shop on West Main Street in Conway.

Cox and Munro were awarded the Student Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce's Business Expo 2010 this past May. Here's their story.

From bikes to business

"I started off with bikes. I would fix them up, take them apart. My dad had a garage; now he does his own work, but he taught me a lot," says Cox. When Cox was only in elementary school, he would work on bikes and customize them for his friends.

Soon he got involved with go-karts and actually won a few racing championships at Boxshop Speedway in Kezar Falls, Maine. "Go-kart racing sucked me into motors and engines and the physics about racing," says Cox. From go-karts, he went to working on dirt bikes, four wheelers and then snowmobiles. "I got deals on dirt bikes and four wheelers. The kids from the neighborhood would come to me. I'd fix up bikes and then sell them. I'd do stuff for my friends," he says.

Cox then moved into snowmobiles, and he learned by doing. "I bid on a snowmobile at auction. I learned so much, it (snowmobile) had so many problems, but I kept going and going. There's a lot to know," he adds. By figuring out the problems with the snowmobiles, Cox has become somewhat of an expert. He has purchased about 20 snowmobiles and tricks them out for his friends. He customizes windshields, handlebars and riser bars, and engine performance, including jet tuning. "You have to take into consideration running the machines at different altitudes. If you go to Canada and are running at 10,000 feet, you have to change the jets; the altitude messes with the engines," he explains.

When Cox isn't working on snowmobiles, he turns to his other automotive passion — cars. He works on his projects at Bill Bell's Iona Auto in Conway. It is here that Cassie Munro helps Cox with other the aspects of a custom automotive business. While Munro can change oil and do her own brakes, she says she is there through it all and reminds Cox of accounting, billing and ordering supplies.

"I keep a good list of supplies needed; I need this, I need that and then I don't remember. Cassie writes it all down, writes out the bills, cashes people out," says Cox appreciatively.

Both Cassie and Tyler work in Uncle Bill's business when they aren't working on their own projects. Iona Auto does general repair work, bodywork and detailing. "We do detailing to make your car seem new and offer a New Hampshire special of winterizing cars. We are really good at detailing but not many people know we do it," says Munro. She adds that New Hampshire detailing means pressure washing the underside of the cars and undercoating them so the salt and other winter weather doesn't rust out the frames.

Munro helps out with the cars, too. "I help Tyler paint," she says. "I come over every day after school, bring my laptop, do my homework and we stay until eight or nine o'clock." Neither mind the long hours; it is a labor of love for both. "We don't mind staying late. He (Tyler) loves what he's doing," says Munro.

The labor of love is evident in their project cars. Take, for instance, the 1995 Subaru sedan with 167,000 miles, which Cox bought for $90. The car was rusted and rotted out, dented, just a mess. "I have put $1000 in so far, and it may end up costing $12,000," says Cox. When he is finished the car will look like new, will be high performance with new transmission, new body, custom exhaust, custom interior and custom sound system.

Sounds of success

Speaking of sound systems, Cox's talent shines here, too. "I have seen Tyler set up a sound system in a blink of an eye. I turn away while he's working and then look back and it is all playing and nice. I am in awe when he does a sound system," says Munro. Cox says it comes naturally. "I can remember all the wires," he says.

Setting up turbo systems comes naturally to Cox, too. "I specialize in turbo systems, I like to do them the most," he says. Cox explains that most mechanics can put together a turbo system, but the tricky part is programming the car's computer once the system is in. "Your engine has to know the turbo, you have to tune the computer. The computer in the cars does everything," he says. "I have read so much. I can put together the system with my eyes closed."

Cox's ability is a gift and is natural, but he says he owes his success to others. "I couldn't have done all this without my Dad, James Cox, II, and Bill Bell," he says.

For more information, visit www.TCCustomz.net or call them at Iona Auto at 447-1805.

Varney Smith
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