Dutchboys Hotrods specializing in original muscle cars to high-end custom builds
By Andrea Hindt, Dan-Am Company
For Joe Van Nus, being a painter has always been something that brought him happiness. On those days when everything is going really good to the days when everything is a struggle, he feels so rewarded at the end of the day with the finished product. “I love to paint, and I’ve always enjoyed the challenges it brings,” he says. Back when he was painting full-time for a collision shop, Joe always had a hot rod he was working on at home, too.
“Along the way, I had the opportunity to go to Detroit Speed, and they brought me in as an outside contractor to paint a car for Dale Jr,” he explains. “That gave me a taste of working with a lot of talented people, and I really enjoyed that time. But with a family and kids in school, it was hard to be away so much, so I went back to working in a collision shop for a few more years.”
A great name for a great team
As time went by, and his kids got older, Joe’s son Paul started helping him work on cars. “There was a Camaro we were working on in the home shop, and the customer came to take a look at it one night and made the comment: ‘Not bad for a couple Dutch boys,’” he laughed. “I’m Dutch, so it was funny how one of those slang things just worked for us. I opened an account at our local paint store and put Dutchboys on the account name, and since then it just stuck with me.”
Eventually Paul ended up renting a 40’ x 60’ pole barn that housed a paint booth. It was nothing special, but it got the job done. Paul would work on cars during the week and Joe would spray them on the weekends when he wasn’t doing collision work. Joe was so busy that he was constantly working with no free time for his family. “One of our customers had a large, really nice private car collection we needed to do work for,” he remembers. “And that was when I decided I needed to focus on the business I had going with my son, so I quit the collision shop and went full-time into hot rods.” In 2010 Joe and Paul became father and son owners of Dutchboys Hotrods, in Vicksburg, MI. In the beginning it was just the two of them bringing their customers visions to life, but the company has since expanded to 16 employees.
Paul currently does everything from fab work to office work; he can also paint but the demand of everything else keeps him busy. And Joe can always be found in the body shop or the paint booth along with a few of the guys. “We are a very family-oriented shop, we’ve always tried to keep that family atmosphere strong as we’ve grown. My wife, Katie and daughter-in-law, Tori work there too,” Joe quipped. “Our son-in-law is a mechanic at another location; I’ll have to keep working on him to get him to come over to our side,” he added.
Bustling and Busting at the seams
A few years ago, Dutchboys outgrew their shop and now rent a new 20,000 sq ft beautiful building, “It’s pretty awesome with a really nice glass showroom,” he said. “We are blessed to have this facility to work and showcase these restored cars.” With their great team of talented technicians and the ability to turn out many beautiful high-quality hot rods, the company has been extremely busy. So, to keep up with the demands of the body and paint department they are expanding again. They also hired a few new key people to help take some of the burden off Joe and Paul.
“We are installing a second paint booth, so both booths will have the capability to use our new SATA air visionTM 5000 hoods. We’ve made everyone’s health a priority and purchased a fresh air hood for all the guys in the booth.” They are really looking forward to it, the anticipation and excitement in the building is contagious. Especially since the SATA air vision 5000 offers maximum safety, comfort, and a perfect fit, it adapts to fit every head shape and is a perfect choice for technicians who have facial hair or wear glasses. Joe commented that he wears glasses and hates taking them off in the booth.
Tools of the Trade
“I know the hood is brand new and we haven’t used them yet, but I feel like the air vision 5000 will be my favorite SATA product,” he laughs. “But for now, my go to product is the SATAjet 1500 B SoLV gun, we have three or four in the shop right now and plan to buy another for our new painter.” Joe said it was a wonderful surprise when he sprayed base coat with it for the first time–it is an excellent value spray gun while still maintaining the quality he expects out of a SATA spray gun. “The 1500 B SoLV has been a great bargain for me,” he said. “We use that to spray base, and then we use the SATAjet 5000 B RP to spray clear coat. The guys use the 100 B for primer and the 100 B P for polyester, we do a lot of polyester here in the shop and it’s a rock star to get the product on for them.”
His advice to others is: “Buy the best equipment you can the first time while keeping in mind what you can afford, it’s ideal to only have to buy a paint gun once and take care of it,” he said. “When I was at the collision shop, they were willing to help us out with SATA equipment, they bought the spray gun, and we’d pay them back a little bit out of every paycheck so that gun was mine.”
High-End Hot Rods
“Dutchboys does everything under one roof, but we don’t do upholstery here or build engines. We are especially known for our body and paint work–it’s what we do best,” Joe said. Truer words were never spoken, as Dutchboys Hotrods were asked to participate in a shop build off, as one of four shops to build a car to be unveiled at the Barret Jackson Cup. The build began in January 2023 and will end in January 2024. A film crew comes in every couple months to shoot some footage and ask questions. He said they are very inquisitive about the products they use.
“We’ve had customers sell their cars at the Barret Jackson Auction before, and we’ve brought cars to the Barret Jackson Cup, but this is the first time doing this build,” he explains. “This is a good opportunity for us to get more exposure and keep our name relevant.” They’re very proud of the work they do–to be able to showcase their talent and skill as a full-service hotrod and restoration shop is priceless.