Kevin and Kelle Oeste own V8 Speed & Resto Shop of Red Bud, Ill., just outside St. Louis. Kevin started out producing original content of one-off car restorations before the shop opened. After the success of his original productions, it was just a natural evolution that the shop opened. But let Kevin tell you about his business and the benefits of original content for V8 Speed Shop.
Carolyn Gray: Tell us a bit about your business, including what you specialize in.
Kevin Oeste: The V8 Speed & Resto Shop is a full-service classic and muscle car restoration center located a half hour away from St. Louis in Red Bud, Ill. We’re staffed with 22 talented people ranging from technicians, fabricators, body and paint techs, upholsterers, plus the administrative team and video production crew. Our team has turned out some of the highest-quality restorations and modified performance cars around, many of which have been featured in major automotive enthusiast magazines and have won awards at national shows and events.
It all began in 2005 as a small operation on private property, which served as the shop and production studio for the V8TV television show. V8TV aired nationally on various cable/satellite TV systems. At that time, the small crew built one car at a time as content for the TV show. Soon, people watching V8TV began to call and ask how the V8 crew could build their dream car, and things took off from there. We currently have 42 cars from six different countries in our workflow.
We specialize in “resto-mods,” or cars that appear original or restored but are hiding modern technology for improved drivability under the skin. We also perform maintenance and repairs on old cars and correct original restorations.
We document each restoration with thousands of detailed photographs and videos, allowing distant customers to follow their car from start to finish from their desktop or mobile phone. Some cars even become the features of V8TV videos.
Today, V8TV airs nationally on the TUFF-TV and REV’n and The Action Channel TV networks, and the video crew is continuously producing V8TV YouTube web episodes along with our latest show, “Muscle Car of the Week.”
CG: How long have you been in business?
Kevin: We launched V8TV Productions, Inc., in early 2004 and the V8 Speed and Resto Shop in 2005. This is our 17th year in business.
CG: V8 creates a lot of original content. When did you start doing this? And why do you feel it’s an important aspect of your business?
Kevin: We actually started out as a Muscle Car TV show that morphed into a shop. It all began in 2005 as a small shop on private property, which served as the shop and production studio for the V8TV Television show that aired nationally on various cable/satellite TV systems. At that time, the small crew built one car at a time as content for the TV show. Soon, people watching V8TV began to call and ask how the V8 crew could build their dream car, and things took off from there. We’ve been creating content since day one, and that content has been bringing us customers the whole time.
Today, as soon as we publish a video or a series on a particular car we’ve built or modified in our shop, our inbox fills with inquiries from enthusiasts all around the globe wanting similar work done to their car.
CG: Do you have a film or TV production background? And if so, how has that helped?
Kevin: Yes. My friends and I were making video ‘movies’ in junior high in the 1980s, and my high school had cable TV and radio stations that were student-run, so I was always involved with broadcasting. I earned a degree in broadcast communications from Illinois State University and worked for years in Los Angeles at Hot Rod Magazine producing their TV show airing nationally on SPEED Channel. Today, in addition to producing our own media, we operate V8TV Productions, Inc., a full-service video production business creating commercial content for customers. In addition, we offer training services to businesses on how to create video and digital content and how to effectively distribute their content with the best possible reach.
CG: You include both video content and podcasts in your media offerings. Why both?
Kevin: I like producing all kinds of visual media, including TV, web video and photography. However, I also have a background in radio, which was a lot of fun, but also hard to do successfully. Today, our V8 Radio Podcast scratches my radio itch but still promotes the shop. It allows for longer-form stories from the shop, events or other topics our customers and listeners find interesting. Our V8 Radio Podcast was recently ranked the number-one muscle car podcast by streaming service Player FM.
CG: V8 has hundreds of thousands of followers across your social platforms including YouTube. And the content you create is terrific. How has this affected the business?
Kevin: Thanks for the kind words! Today, about 70% of all customers come to us after watching our TV show or web videos. Sharing our message and work around the world has been crucial to our success.
CG: V8 is in a small community in Illinois. What are your thoughts on how the availability of content brings in customers from a worldwide audience?
Kevin: We launched our shop on TV and online, so we were never really concerned about local business traffic. In fact, we started the shop on private property – Kelle’s parents’ farm – where the general public was not even allowed. Today, even in the small town of Red Bud, we’ve always been growing and busy. Without the global distribution of our content, we would never have the customer base – or level of projects – that we do today.
CG: What’s the furthest an owner has traveled to have V8 restore their ride? Do you happen to know if they learned about you from your shows?
Kevin: We’ve had customers from Australia, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Mexico, Canada, Qatar and from all over the U.S. Almost all of these customers learned of us through our media, with the exception of one in Saudi Arabia who we met while exhibiting at the Global Auto Salon in Riyadh.
CG: What could a non-restoration collision shop learn from what you’re doing with original content?
Kevin: It’s been said that people retain 70% of what they experience in video, far more than photos or written word, so we know the medium is effective. One of the great things about a video is that the message never changes, never leaves anything out and is accessible 24/7. We tell companies that anything they find themselves repeating more than twice is a great candidate for a video. And while it’s not hard to create videos, there are some basic technical elements that help ensure the successful delivery of the message. Learn some basic techniques and you can create quality, effective video with minimal equipment and time. At the end of the day, it’s the artist, not the paintbrush that matters.
CG: Kevin, you’re a great host for your shows. Was this always comfortable for you? Has your ease with being on-camera evolved over time? And what would be your advice to a business owner who may not be as comfortable as you with the on-camera duties?
Kevin: I was fortunate to grow up in front of an audience, being active in church and school performances since I was 5, so I’ve never really been nervous on-camera. Today, I do lots of on-camera work, but also emcee live events like the SEMA Banquet and Hall Of Fame Induction Gala and other national enthusiast car and truck events around the country. For me, video is a bit less dynamic than live events because you can always get a second take!
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Tell a complete story. People are story-driven. If you can craft your message into a story with a cohesive beginning, middle and end, it will not only be more compelling to the viewer but also easier to tell.
- You’re talking to one person. Although there might be 100,000 online subscribers, video is consumed by each person individually. If you talk to the camera as if it was a single person, it’s far more likely that the viewer will respond as if they’re being spoken to directly and feel a connection. It’s not always about the sale but more about being top-of-mind when a buying decision is made.
CG: And is it fun? Is it a blast to create your content, and what is your favorite aspect of it?
Kevin: It is fun. I’m fortunate that our video work has allowed me access to people and places that I never would have envisioned, from celebrities, athletes and industry leaders to multi-million dollar muscle cars. It’s a lot of work to do it right, but rewarding when people comment that they resonate with the content or call us to work on their own dream cars because they liked what they saw on-screen.
CG: Thank you, Kevin! Hopefully your story will inspire a shop owner to create their own content.
To check out the various V8 shows and platforms, click here.