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    West Coast Customs

    The west coast customs academy

    Cars being wheeled out, the sound of happy customers. The sound of saws cutting through metal and drills. That’s a typical morning of workers at the popular body shop West Coast

    Customs, run by Ryan Friedlinghaus. One day, Friedlinghaus decided to allow students 18 or older to join the West Coast Customs Academy. 

       He wanted the academy to be free so it was easier for new coming students didn’t have to worry about paying for their education and their passion. There are currently 11 students in this pilot program, and the program lasts for ten weeks for the time being. 

      “The academy was something I wanted to do for like 10 years, I wanted to create this academy for people who have a passion for cars and as a business owner nowadays it’s hard to find people who have that passion,” stated Friedlinghaus. 

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       The new upcoming students have to go to the West Coast Customs website to  submit a one minute video of themselves and why they think that they should be selected to join the academy. But how are the students liking this ten week long program? 

      “I’m enjoying it a lot, it’s a lot of fun to be here and working everyday. I’m used to school so it’s a change,” said  20-year old David Harutunyan who has a passion for cars and who is currently studying mechanical engineering, 

      When Harutunyan saw the opportunity to join an academy for the world famous West Coast Customs, he didn’t waste any time to submit his one minute video. He stated that he was glad that he joined, because he feels like if some other auto body shop offered the same opportunity as West Coast, he wouldn’t get the same experience. 

       “I thought it would be more scary because this is more a male dominated field but here they accept me and want to teach me,” stated 27-year old Rebecca Lopez, who happened to see the ad and said why not? Lopez didn’t know what to expect from the academy but was pleasantly surprised by the positive attitudes of everyone working there. 

       How accepting everyone was of female mechanics and how willing they were to share their knowledge. 29 year old Tiffany Murphy, also known as Murph, agrees with this statement. 

       Murphy stated that it was pretty hard to talk about cars with other girls because they didn’t like cars or didn’t understand anything about them. But once she got older and started to hang out with other guys who owned cars, they naturally taught Murphy more about cars. 

       Friedlinghaus has a lot of hope in this program and loves the project car that they are working on. Since the car is very near and dear to his heart, The car used to be owned by Friedlinghaus close friend who sadly died from Covid recently. He wanted to use this opportunity to have his students fix up the car and give it to Friedlinghaus friend’s daughter as a surprise. 

       He sees this as a teaching moment for the students, on how to fix cars and experience the joy and happiness that the customers feel after getting the car that they want, built the way they wanted. But what does the future look like for this academy? 

       “Want this whole shop to become a school, and make it where it’s like a college with semesters and not just two teachers or not just 11 students but more,” said Friedlinghaus, excited to see what the future holds for this academy. 

      Speaking of the teachers, what is teaching like for them? Julian Covarrubias, head teacher at West Coast Academy, stated, “I like it; it’s great. You get to show the students your last 40 years of experience that you learned over the years so they can take that.” 

      Covarrubias finds the students fun to be around and interesting when it comes to them working on the 1999 Toyota Tacoma. It can get a little stressful because they are building the car from the ground up. 


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