McLouth family turns hobby into profession in Tonganoxie
For Shawn and Amie Bristol, it’s all in the name.
Their business, Hobby Monster Customs, specializes in powder coat painting and sand blasting of ATVs, wheels and other items.
Shawn’s family has been full of ATV enthusiasts since the 1980s.
It’s been a hobby for the family.
Most people’s hobbies grow and grow and grow to the point people are crazy about their hobbies.
The hobby becomes its own monster.
For the rural McLouth couple, what started as a hobby has become a ferocious business.
Hobby Monster Customs opened last July in a retail center shared with Smith Veterinary Clinic.
In less than a year, the Bristols are planning to expand the family business at 1625 Tonganoxie Road, Suite B.
About the business
Hobby Monster Customs, at 1625 Tonganoxie Road, Suite B, is open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and half days on Saturdays. The business is online at hobbymonstercustoms.com and can be reached at 913-417-7088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hobby Monster Customs will expand by 2,400-square-feet at the center.
Amie credits word of mouth and local ties to the business’ early success.
“We’ve been fortunate to have great support within the community,” Amie said. “And really, one of the things that’s been especially helpful has been business-to-business networking within Leavenworth County."
Shawn and Amie grew up in McLouth and pondered opening up shop in their hometown.
But when the opportunity to open shop in Tonganoxie appeared, the Bristols jumped at the chance.
“We’re really glad to be in Tonganoxie,” Shawn said. “I think Tongie’s a great location in between Lawrence and Kansas City.”
He said the locale helps Hobby Monster draw from the Kansas City market, but other points as well: Osawatomie, Edwardsville and Weston, Mo., locally, to Andover near Wichita.
ATVs continue to be the family’s first love. The Bristols do powder coating for ATVs and offer mechanical work for the vehicles, but the business has expanded beyond the hobby hot rods.
Fencing, wheels and metal signs have been some of the items the family has finished. Cages for ATVs also have been a popular item. Cages are the roll bars that are attached to ATVs.
Powder coating is done at the Tonganoxie location, while sand blasting work takes place off site.
Sand blasting will be done on site when the expansion is complete, Shawn said.
Monday, Shawn demonstrated the powder coating at his Tongaonxie business.
He used a powder gun to spray the powder onto a wheel. Paint, in the form of charged particles, gravitates toward the wheel, which is grounded on a metal rack.
In the next step, Shawn would roll the rack into an oven that’s both 8 feet wide and tall and 10 feet long. The powder permanently sticks to the metal piece after staying in the oven for a specified time at 400 degrees.
Powder coating is ideal because it’s more eco friendly and durable than conventional paints, Shawn said.
Hobby Monster Customs definitely is a family business.
Shawn jokes that family members are “unknowingly volunteering.”
Shawn’s parents Marilyn and Clyde Bristol and Amie’s parents Larry and Carol Tripp assist at the shop.
They’ve also gotten assistance from their children: Ally, 19; Ryan, 17; and Jason, 15.
Though the family stays busy with the growing business, they do still find time to enjoy their hobby of riding ATVs.
“Whenever we get a chance, we ride local trails,” Amie said.
The family also will take trips for rides, such as the sand dunes at Little Sahara State Park near Waynoka, Okla.
“It’s our sandbox,” Amie said with a laugh.