Big Rigs and Big Fun
It’s all about flash and flair at Outcast Kustoms and K&L Collision
By Mike Savicki
If you ever caught “Trick My Truck” on Country Music Television (CMT), Speed’s “American Trucker,” Travel Channel’s “Outrageous Rigs” or “Outcast Kustoms”on Discovery’s Velocity Channel, then you’ll most likely recognize the name Kelvin Locklear. Raised in a family of truckers, he is known in the industry as the guy who will build or customize almost any type of big rig.
Along with his wife, April, Kelvin is the bearded face of Mooresville’s Outcast Kustoms. Sharing space with K&L Collision, their collision repair shop for RV’s and trailers, the husband and wife team, as part of a now growing staff of 11, dream up and build big rig conversions that include school busses, trailers, monster trucks, RV’s, side trucks, haulers and the occasional antique fire truck. Their work is recognizable, flashy, show-worthy and looks all-around spectacular rolling up and down America’s highways.
Both Kelvin and April’s backgrounds in trucking date to their very early years. Kelvin’s parents owned a trucking company and spent countless hours either coordinating routes and linking trucks with cargoes or being on the road themselves. And April’s dad drove big rigs since she was age four. In 1999, when Kelvin’s dad sold April’s dad a trailer, their roads overlapped. April’s dad made the introduction in, coincidentally, the month of April, and by October they were married.
Understanding the personal and professional demands of being on the road and working round-the-clock shifts, neither Kelvin nor April wanted to have a trucking company or drive trucks full time, but they wanted to stay in the trucking industry.
“We both wanted to be in trucking, but didn’t want to drive trucks, that’s for sure,” April Locklear says with a smile. “So we decided to open what Kelvin calls a toy store for truckers instead. We started out simply doing truck bumpers, but then it grew into visors, grills and almost everything under the sun.”
Their reputation grew, and the original 22,000 sq. ft. shop in Florence, South Carolina, soon became a mandatory stop for truckers heading up and down the east coast along I-95 from Maine to Florida, as well as along I-20 carrying cargoes to and from seaports along the Mid-Atlantic. And in their early years especially, NASCAR haulers parked and played when the Sprint Cup made stops in nearby Darlington.
Expansion to the North
Three years ago, the Locklear’s made the decision to expand. After carefully exploring opportunities both in Charlotte and surrounding communities from Gastonia to Fort Mill and Concord, they found a 48,000 sq. ft. home in Lakeside Park right alongside some of the motorsports industry’s home shops. From the day they opened their doors, their work has never stopped.
“Having a home here is more than we imagined,” Kelvin Locklear shares. “While all of our products [in motorsports] may be a little different, our mindsets are the same, and being neighbors with minds who basically take a pile of aluminum and, in six weeks, transform it into something that races, is great. We all share the same appreciation for creating something from nothing and we all use our skill and abilities on every project or to reach a goal.”
The Locklear’s agree that a bonus of the new location is welcoming both visitors as well as a few motorsports locals to the shop.
“It’s cool to have a crew chief, or a guy like Clint Boyer, who grew up in a family that owns heavy duty wreckers, stop in to see what we are working on and customizing,” Kelvin adds.
And on any given afternoon after school, one or more of the Locklear’s three sons can be spotted on the grounds. Jordan is a Bandolero racer, Charlie is a Boy Scout and Kameron stays busy around the shop. Then there’s Diesel the dog, a shop fixture and true entertainer in a rugged sense.
Kelvin and April have now been customizing big rigs for more than a decade, and the variety of their work continues to expand. If you happen to be at a Lake Norman holiday or festival event or parade, keep your eyes peeled for Outcast Kustom’s Fighting Cancer Fire Truck. Sure the antique truck still has working fire controls with a vintage look, and it stands out painted pink, but it’s the elevated seating areas, the booming sound system and the t-shirt launcher that really make it stand out in a crowd.
This article was originally published in Currents Magazine in 2014.