KC’s Paint Shop – Big Fun in Fort Worth
KC Mathieu, the boss man at KC’s Paint Shop, dedicated over three years of his life to starring on a reality TV show, but now the body-and-paint expert is able to devote his time to the things he loves most: his family and his Fort Worth, Texas-based hot rod shop. Mathieu spends his days in the shop, working alongside his wife Kasey and his accomplished team to build and paint horsepower-heavy hot rods and trucks with a timeless look. After hours, he hangs out with his kids and dreams up cool things to do to the cars in his shop.
The fact that he’s even in his shop is a far cry from where he was only a few years ago. Mathieu spent more than three-and-half years filming the Discovery Channel’s hit reality show “Fast N’Loud.” Not too long after he signed on to the show in 2012, Mathieu discovered that the life of a reality TV star is anything but glamorous.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Mathieu remembered. “Aaron [Kaufman] and I were friends in high school and when [show star] Richard [Rawlings] hired him, they needed a paint and body guy so they asked me if I wanted to do it. I said, ‘Sure.’ I had no clue how being on a TV show worked, and it was just crazy.”
The extremely long hours (“we worked seven days a week straight for two years”) and the time away from his shop and his family really started to take a toll. When he pulled the plug on his reality TV career and left the show in 2015, Mathieu said he got a lot of hate mail – but he also got a lot more business.
Today, the shop continues to expand, with Mathieu seeing the need to move into a much bigger building sometime soon. He and his 12 employees work on up to 18 projects at a time in their current digs, and Mathieu has a long list of goals he hopes to accomplish within the next few years, including launching a product line.
The current hustle and bustle in Mathieu’s shop is nothing like it was when he first went into business back in 2007. Growing up with a father who owned a collision shop, Mathieu naturally assumed that he, too, would work in the automotive field.
“I’ve always had such a passion for cars that I never even pictured doing anything else,” he said. “I worked at my dad’s shop for a while and then jumped around, learning different skills from different people. I’ve done just about everything, but paint has always been what I enjoyed doing the most.”
Working at other shops, Mathieu often felt stifled. “I never really got to do what I wanted to do when I was at the other shops,” he said. “Nobody did things the way I felt they should be done. I’m very meticulous about everything I do, and no one would pay me to do the job how I wanted to do it.”
Eventually, Mathieu began taking on side work while working full-time at another shop. He soon had cars parked all over the side of his house and in his garage, and realized he was actually losing money by working for someone else during the day. “That’s how I decided to go out on my own – I realized I could make more money doing my own thing, and doing things the way I wanted,” he said.
“We had enough work to keep us going, but I was working so slowly, trying to prove to everyone what I could do, that it hurt us,” he added. “If you don’t get the cars out fast enough, no one can see what you’re able to do! It’s a double-edged sword.”
In the beginning, Mathieu was only doing paint, but eventually realized that if his shop was going to make it, he had to expand its offerings. “When we first started, we only did paint because we didn’t have room for anything else,” he said. “Our customers liked our paint jobs but kept saying, ‘Cool, but now where do I go?’ We were losing business because people want a one-stop shop. I ended up renting an additional little shop, and then another, and then another and we were spread out all over, but were able to offer full builds.”
These days, Mathieu and his team are building cars and trucks that usually have two things: a lot of horsepower and a timeless, classic look. “Most of the time, you can tell if a car is done by a certain shop. I don’t think we have a set style,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is that I want our cars to be timeless. I try to coach my clients to do a car that’s never going to go out of style. Crazy colors and graphics will eventually go out of style, but something simple is always going to be elegant.”
As a painter, Mathieu says he appreciates all colors, but definitely has a preference for the more subtle hues. “I don’t like crazy metallics, personally,” he said. “I think there’s a place for them, but it’s not on my stuff. I like classic, solid colors. I can look at a car and start putting it together in my head and know if it will look good.”
At KC’s Paint Shop, it’s not unusual to see an early 1960s truck next to a powerful muscle car. “We don’t work on just one type of car,” Mathieu said. “I try to make every car different in a way, but if I could pinpoint one signature of our cars, it’s that they have lots of horsepower.”
Mathieu said that nearly all of his builds have a supercharger and come in at around 700-horsepower or more. “I need that power,” he said. “I like really clean, timeless vehicles with a ton of horsepower.”
Take Mathieu’s personal ’68 F100, a truck that Mathieu says they “pulled out all the tricks on.” As you can see above – it’s crazy cool.
KC’s Paint Shop is growing fast. Although Mathieu moved his shop to a larger 10,000sq. ft. facility only a year ago, he’s already outgrown it.
“I just bought land down the street [from where we are now] and we plan to break ground on it in the next 45 days to build a 25,000-square-foot facility,” Mathieu said. “We are building it to our specs, and will finally be able to have things the way we want them. Hopefully, we’ll be in there within the next eight to 10 months, rockin ‘n’ rollin’.”
Rolling right beside Mathieu will be his wife, Kasey. (Yes, they have the same name, and yes, that’s actually how they started talking.) The high school sweethearts have been married 13 years but find it easy to work together. “This sounds so corny, but we kick ass together!” Mathieu said of Kasey, who does all the shop’s administrative tasks. “We bounce things off each other, and we know when to push each other and when not to.”
Mathieu also praises the collection of guys he has working at his shop. “I hire guys who are better than me, because I think that’s smart,” he said. “I design something in my head and tell them how I want it to look and it’s their job to figure out how to do it, and they do.”
Now that he has assembled a great team and has things running smoothly at the shop, Mathieu can’t help but think about returning to reality TV. This time, though, it would have to be on his own terms. “We’ve been approached to do another show,” Mathieu said. “We’ve had people come in and talk about different show ideas. I have some cool ideas for a TV show, but for me to agree to ever do reality TV again, the show would really have to be tailored around me, my guys and my family. It’s not worth going through all of that again. If it’s not right, I’m not doing it, and I’m not doing that to my guys. But never say never. If the right opportunity came along, we might jump on board.”