In many ways Custom Built USA is a throwback.
Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, the family-owned speed shop operates at the intersection of vintage vehicles, classic Americana and quality workmanship.
Each mobile bar conversion is delivered with a high-touch, personal service.
Buyers here aren’t considered customers, they’re part of the Custom Built family.
Don’t let the old school values fool you though. Owner Joshua James and his team might work with decades-old automobiles, but they produce seriously modern mobile bars.
They live by one rule - if it’s cool, and if it’s classic, it gets converted.
Own a 1967 Ford Econoline Super Van, for example? When the Custom Built garage is finished with it, you’re left with an ultra-cool tap truck fit for the classiest of weddings.
Converted Toyota Land Cruisers give new meaning to the term 4x4. Transformed into stunning bars on wheels, they come complete with four taps capable of serving whatever your guests want kegged.
An International Harvester Metro Van now acts as a walk-in wine Kegerator for a vineyard based on the California coast, complete with sommelier tower and custom branding.
GMC Step-Vans are turned into beautiful ice cream trucks.
The list goes on; VW buses, Chevrolet C10s, and DIVCO milk delivery trucks have all received the Custom Built treatment. Every build has Josh’s fingerprints all over it.
"Hot rods and car culture has been passed down in my family from generation to generation.”
Having appreciated and worked on vehicles all his life, a passion shared with his father, it was perhaps inevitable that he would make a career out of the industry he loves.
“I was raised by a man’s man, a blue-collar father, who taught me everything I needed to know about vintage cars and trucks; how to hunt for them, what to look for, to troubleshoot and repair them with integrity.
One could say this business runs in our bloodline!
Hot rods and car culture has been passed down in my family from generation to generation.”
As with every family business, new generations bring with them new approaches to the work. New points of view. Continued evolution of the art form.
Josh has a distinctive style, combining classic typography and elements of Americana when customizing vehicles. Beautifully blending the old with the new.
As he explains, “this definitely goes back to my roots. I remember as a youngster going to the American Graffiti cruise night and festival in Modesto, California where I grew up.
This was an inspiration from an early age for me to get into hot rods and the lifestyle surrounding them. Although, my style has come a long way from home and has developed its own unique characteristics along the journey".
“It really, truly lets their entrepreneurial hearts run wild, and remain independent to the core."
Having contributed to the national and international growth of a different mobile bar manufacturing business, as well as running a mobile tap truck of his own, Josh felt the time was right to go it alone.
Launched in 2020, Custom Built USA is the culmination of a career spent not only perfecting his craft, but fine-tuning the strategy, branding, marketing, and sales processes that come with running a business.
Now Josh wants to help others do the same, and he wants them to do it in style.
Offering a business model that allows his clients freedom, creativity and independence, whilst also providing continued support, Custom Built packages include a 360-degree service.
Josh works with customers from the ideation, planning and vehicle sourcing stages all the way through to build, branding, launch, marketing, media output and continued growth.
“The really great thing about Custom Built USA is that we’re able to help individuals kickstart their mobile bar business without having to join any sort of franchise model” Josh explained to us.
“It really, truly lets their entrepreneurial hearts run wild, and remain independent to the core.
Having to figure out all of the details and hitting speed bumps along the way is the not so fun part of starting your own business, trust me... I’ve been there!
I owned and operated a very successful mobile bar business full-time before branching out and building mobile bars for others.
I’ve been able to take that knowledge and pass it along to clients who need help setting-up the parameters of their business.”
"We're always pushing our shop to take things to the next level."
There’s no doubt that Josh’s creations make you sit-up and take notice.
So much so that his white glove approach to mobile bar building has caught the eye of some larger clients and well-known brands.
“We recently had the opportunity to build a custom tap truck for Firestone Walker’s newest brand, Cali Squeeze!
We were able to capture their brand and lock it into the van using their signature colors, stripes and style showing off the ‘California State of Mind’ beer brand.
Their completed 1966 Ford Econoline sports 6 beer taps and a draft system to serve the masses at music festivals like Lightning in a Bottle and surf competitions right on the beach in California!”
Custom Built USA is tapping into a growing movement within the events and branding sectors that realizes the value of going beyond your standard catering service or company vehicle.
Josh isn’t just producing mobile bar conversions, he’s producing the centerpiece for outdoor events, epic photo opportunities, unforgettable product displays and rolling advertisements that help to convey what a brand represents.
The beauty is that there are so many creative use-cases for mobile bars and with Josh's talents, your imagination is really the only limit.
Josh continues, “another favorite of mine was a vintage Metro step-van build for Daou Vineyards; a very popular winery renowned for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux-styled wines!
We took an old bread van from the 60’s and essentially turned it into the coolest event truck with a custom-built service window that flips open to showcase custom cut stone bar tops, a sommelier wine tower that pours wine on tap, and modern floating shelves to showcase their wine bottles!
This truck has made its debut for the past two years at the BeachLife Festival which is the largest beach party and live music festival in Southern California, held in Redondo Beach right next to the beautiful Pacific Ocean!”
Even though the big brands are knocking on his door, fortunately, Josh’s appetite to produce spectacular builds means that he is open to working with anyone, anywhere, so long as you match his passion and strive for creativity.
“My favorite part about running this business is getting to see the projects come together, whether it be a tap truck for a brewery, or an ice cream truck for a growing brand. A fun aspect of this industry is that each project is so uniquely different from the last, it’s always pushing our shop to take things to the next level.
When I first started Custom Built USA, I set a few goals to work with some of my favorite breweries and wineries on the Central Coast, which has come to fruition and the calls keep rolling in!
As much as we love getting to build for large brands, the bread and butter of our business is working with and helping entrepreneurs that are either just ‘tapping in’ to the industry or growing their small business!”
With so many amazing mobile bar builds in his back catalog, we found it hard to pick a favorite here at Roll To, although I am a sucker for this nostalgic ice cream truck produced for Haute Sugar Co.
Josh’s favorite projects to work on?
“You can tell from our Instagram page that we love the Ford Econoline tap trucks! There’s something about that quirky, old-school cab-over engine that gets our wheels turning!
But one of my favorite builds was a 1967 Land Cruiser FJ40 that we custom fabricated the tap window and system into and branded for a start-up out of Knoxville, Tennessee!"
"When Olmsted Bev Co. reached out to us, we were excited to help them with the entire start-up of their mobile bar, from the build out of their tap truck to the logo design, branding and website, we did it all!
We worked closely with them to create the perfect ebb and flow of what they wanted for their business.
An excellent option versus the franchise style mobile bar they were considering. They loved the idea of incorporating their heritage and family history into the name and imagery of their new mobile bar company!”
“We continue to look forward to bringing new, badass builds and cutting-edge branding to market."
Just like the hot rods he coveted when he was younger, Josh isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, with plans for expansion on every level.
“We continue to look forward to bringing new, badass builds and cutting-edge branding to market. As our team grows, we’re able to help more individuals and companies with builds and experiential marketing vehicles!
Keep an eye out for more of our lifestyle merch as we plan to release our newest designs and a couple surprise drops! The last two sold out within 48 hours of posting them and we’re pumped for our SPEED SHOP tees and hats that are coming out this summer!”*
*Editor’s note: All I’m asking is you hold some merch back for Roll To..! Deal?
As you can see from the photos and the quotes in this feature, Josh is assembling a business that is enviously unique.
He is genuinely passionate about what he and his team create and that shines through in every model that comes out of his shop. And he does it all with a smile on his face.
Who wouldn’t want to work with someone who has that approach to work?
Whether you’re pondering a career change, upgrading an existing model or if you’re a brand looking to stand out from the crowd, Custom Built USA can source any type of vehicle for their clients.
They’ll design your build and execute the conversion to the highest level.
If you need assistance with branding, marketing and your digital presence, their team will help with that too.
Finally, a huge thanks to Josh for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us!
We can’t wait to stop by the shop next time we’re in Nashville to see the builds up close and personal.
For now, we’ll settle for soaking up the shop's super creative Instagram page.
Keep on rollin’!