Your feel-good Illinois story of the day: Nichols Paint and Fab
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
* I was flipping channels the other night and settled on Velocity for a bit. The show that happened to be on at the time featured some big, tattooed, bearded guys building a hot rod and I couldn’t stop watching. They just seemed so genuine. Hard-working people who loved what they were doing and who thoroughly enjoyed working with each other. No fake “reality” drama, no contrived “plot” twists, no awful “acting” like you get with most of those goofy shows.
And then they cut to a shot of the Midwestern prairie town where their business was based and an image of this water tower appeared on my screen…
Holy moly, I thought. I have a bunch of family in that town. No wonder those folks seemed so oddly familiar to me. I binge-watched every episode over the weekend.
* The show is called “Wrench’d,” a title which I’ll bet was contrived by some suit at corporate headquarters since they don’t do a whole lot of wrenching. It’s about the men and one woman who work at Nichols Paint and Fab. Justin Nichols owns the shop, following in his late father’s footsteps.
They started production last year, and focused their first two episodes on a build for the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas…
More on that insane truck is here.
* The Iroquois County Times-Republic featured Justin Nichols and his crew back in January…
* Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) represents Watseka, so he headed over to the shop to have a look-see. From his Facebook page…
Rep. Bennett also took a photo with the crew…
The gentle giant pictured on the far right above is Nick, and I became a devoted fan when he taste-tested some motor oil as it was drained from an old engine. “Tastes fine,” he deadpanned with an ever-so-slight smile. I about died laughing.
I gotta meet these people.
* Justin Nichols grew up in Watseka and is fiercely loyal to his hometown roots, even though he could live just about anywhere because he sells to customers throughout the country. He’s an entrepreneur, a design artist and a regular, blue-collar dude who’s been working on cars since he was 7 years old. One of the episodes features him working with some kids at the local high school shop class, and he seemed determined to pass his knowledge along to future generations.
I’m totally hooked on this program, not just because these are interesting characters living out their version of the American dream, but because they’re working their tails off to make an out-of-the-way “Rust Belt” Downstate town best known to the outside world for its chronic flooding problems a better place to live.
The show also features Justin’s girlfriend Maegan, who is a talented welder/fabricator and appears to have a lot of respect from the men around her. Some of these cable programs use women as eye candy or comic relief. Maegan is the real deal and, unlike on so many other reality car shows, she’s treated as an equal. It’s subtly done, but definitely refreshing.
Hopefully, corporate headquarters will keep its hands off this show and allow the people to just be themselves. They’re fiercely proud of their work, of course, and they seem at ease in front of the cameras, but they’re not obnoxious, spendthrift braggarts like some other clowns on my teevee.
* Rep. Bennett talked to me yesterday afternoon about maybe doing something to recognize Nichols and his crew in Springfield. This state could use some working class heroes during these trying times. I’m all for it.