ANY­THING IS POS­SI­BLE

TAK­ING A STEP BACK TO STEP BACK UP

Low Rider - - ROLLPLAYERZ - STORY & PHO­TOS BY PHIL GOR­DON

If I told you that you could go from flip­ping burg­ers at a fast food restau­rant to own­ing a mil­lion-dol­lar com­pany, would you be­lieve me? That’s the true-life story of Steve Ak­ers from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Steve grew up around his grand­fa­ther build­ing ve­hi­cles at the age of 13. When he got the chance, he put his knowl­edge to work after pur­chas­ing his first ve­hi­cle, an '85 Fire­bird. Steve spent the en­tire sum­mer flip­ping burg­ers at Wendy’s to earn enough ex­tra money to cus­tom­ize that Fire­bird. “I had to do all my own work, “Steve tells LRM. “It wasn’t al­ways the best, but I learned a lot.”

Cus­tom ve­hi­cles re­mained his pas­sion but in 1995, at 22 years old, Steve had his first son and took a step back. It was a 20-year step back as he fo­cused on putting his fam­ily first. He be­gan build­ing a suc­cess­ful trade by be­com­ing a chef for a small com­pany and then mov­ing to one of the largest ho­tels in the state. At 28 years old Steve went back to school and re­ceived a de­gree in en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies. Once he earned his de­gree, he started a busi­ness by team­ing up with a great part­ner with­out ever bor­row­ing a cent.

Now that his com­pany was start­ing

to grow and his chil­dren were older, Steve went on the search for not only a new ve­hi­cle but one that em­bod­ied suc­cess. At the time Steve was driv­ing a Yukon but it didn’t have the “suc­cess fac­tor” that he de­sired. One day on his way to drop­ping his kids off at school, he saw an '05 Hum­mer H2 in solid black at a lo­cal car lot. After he dropped the kids off, he went to that deal­er­ship and pur­chased the Hum­mer. When the bell rang, his kids didn’t even rec­og­nize their fa­ther wait­ing for them in a brand-new Hum­mer.

For the first cou­ple years that he owned the Hum­mer he did what any new Hum­mer owner would do, he went to the sand dunes and jumped hills, test­ing the vir­tu­ally in­de­struc­tible SUV. With al­ways that flare for cre­ativ­ity, Steve just couldn’t leave the Hum­mer alone as he started ad­ding TVs to the truck. “It started with one, then four, then 10, and be­fore I knew there were 28.” Steve adds, “I guess I go all-in when I de­cide to cus­tom­ize some­thing.” Well, his all-in was an un­der­state­ment as Steve or­dered all of the chrome ex­te­rior parts for the SUV and had them triple­plated chrome.

For the ex­te­rior, air­brush ex­pert Tom Stacks was brought in to add skulls and mu­rals in door­jambs, the en­gine com­part­ment, and frame.

The next step was chang­ing the ba­sic black color to some­thing that stood out and car­ried the same flare that Steve pos­sessed. He en­listed Q from Ex­quis­ite Auto Body for the com­plete color change to a House of Kolor candy pur­ple with mas­sive flake. Chuckie added pin­stripe through­out the truck to make the paint pop even more. Rollin han­dled all the undercarriage chrome plating and San­ti­ago from Krazy Kut­ting en­graved vir­tu­ally ev­ery piece of vis­i­ble chrome. A set of Gio­vanni Settes fin­ished off the build.

As the owner of a mil­lion-dol­lar HVAC com­pany called A&H Me­chan­i­cal, Steve looks back at his time flip­ping burg­ers and knows that he put his heart and soul into achiev­ing the Amer­i­can dream. “I never took a hand­out, and I never ex­pected any­one to do any­thing for me,” Steve says proudly. He wants to thank ev­ery­one who stood be­side him along the way, in­clud­ing his crazy pin­strip­ing, his en­tire City Wide fam­ily in Colorado, Texas, Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, and

Kansas City. A spe­cial thanks to his club pres­i­dent and best friend Chris Kauf­man, as well as his fam­ily, his chil­dren, and all his friends in the Lowrider com­mu­nity for their pas­sion and sup­port.

The H2 was built by AM Gen­eral un­der con­tract by Gen­eral Mo­tors at AM Gen­eral mil­i­tary assem­bly plant in In­di­ana.

6,600 pounds rolling on 28inch Gio­vanni Settes and Lex­ani tires.

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