From that moment, he has never looked back and, despite his young age, he has continued to make a strong impression on the SA custom scene, turning out some incredible works of art on both two-wheels and four. I caught up with him at his Centurion showroom and workshop to get the inside story.
Walking into the premises, you are immediately hit by the variety of vehicles on display. A Brabus Mercedes SLS Gullwing sits next to a Ferrari 458 Speciale which in turn sits next to a Ford F100 pick-up in bright yellow. Two Shelby Mustangs sit alongside a row of brand new Kawasakis (they are an official Kawasaki dealer) and a custom Harley Davidson built for a client. It’s clear Theunis has come a long way in a short period of time and I wanted to get to the bottom of his success.
“I started working at Centurion Lifestyle while I was still at school in 2006. There were two partners who owned the business and I started by washing bikes. I just wanted to be around bikes; that all I wanted. I’d go to school and come straight here afterwards and work until 6 or 7 every evening and then go home and do my homework.”
It was clear that school was always going to play second fiddle to bikes and, eventually, he moved to the workshop and then to accessory sales. “But my real dream was to get into bike sales and, when I did finally get into sales, I was good at it.”
So much so, that Theunis was able to buy out first one partner and, eventually, the other to become sole owner in 2017.
I asked him when the passion for custom building take hold?
“My big dream was always custom building. I’d followed all the custom building shows on TV and the internet and I had this idea that I wanted to take a brand new bike and customise it as a marketing exercise. At the time I still had one of the original owners as a business partner and he couldn’t see what I was on about so I did it out of my own money.”
Theunis bought a brand new Triumph Rocket 3 and worked his magic. Considering that this was his first-ever custom build, it was an impressive debut. That initial gamble paid off and, in a few short years, Theunis has performed at least 100 custom makeovers and built about 50 ground-up custom builds. Given the time and effort that goes into each build, that’s an impressive work rate.
The real skill of the custom builder is to take the vague and often disconnected ideas a customer might have and turn them into reality. Not only that, but diplomacy is needed to steer them away from what they are adamant they might want but which Theunis knows won’t work.
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