Black, sleek and timeless describe the transformed vehicles that come out of the design studio and warehouse where Mobsteel handles its custom car business.
Mobsteel, which is located at 702 Advance St. in Brighton, specializes in taking original production cars, from vintage Lincolns to Ford F-Series trucks, and transforming them into spectacular showcase vehicles that capture the imagination and grab attention.
The design team starts from the frame up, sanding, repainting and adding special components like spoilers, ground effects and rims to turn an ordinary car into a lean, mean Mobsteel machine.
Mobsteel also offers aftermarket accessories for purchase such as wheels and kits to upgrade and enhance any vehicle.
The name Mobsteel has become synonomous with black cars, according to owner Adam Genei, because Mobsteel only produces black automobiles.
“We have cars shipped from overseas just to get painted black here. Black is the richest, most classiest looking car in the world. I’ve always loved black cars. You can’t go wrong with it,” he said.
Genei comes from an automotive and entrepreneurial legacy. Both grandparents were involved in the automotive business, and his father started Genei Industries in Brighton.
“I’ve always been into cars, ever since I was a kid—just like any normal kid growing up in this area. We used to wrench on stuff in the garage and fix lawn mowers for extra money,” he said. “I grew up in the shop—I think that’s where my work habits came from.”
Genei was influenced by the automotive capital that is Detroit.
“Mobsteel, we are doing it to pay homage to the Motor City. You can get one of our cars, a piece of American steel, only in black. These cars are the history of the people of Michigan and we’re bringing it back," Genei said.
Mobsteel officially started out as a hobby business in 2002 with one small bay that Genei and his wife Pam rented out of the same building that it’s in today.
The business gained momentum and grew in popularity, with a customer base that includes famous athletes, business owners and entertainers.
“It was kind of a unique thing, the aftermarket environment,” he said.
Genei is inspired by past and present vehicles, and his creations reflect a modern take on older designs. “We try to get a decent cross between the two—hopefully we come up with something cool. You can get inspiration from anywhere,” he said.
Mobsteel originally began converting older Lincolns but gradually moved on to customizing other makes like the newer Ford Mustang and Flex.
“People are seeing now that we are not one-dimensional–even though we deliver all of the cars in black. Our guys are talented enough to build anything. Our ideas are cool enough to apply to a lot of different vehicles,” Genei said.
Mobsteel recently won the 2011 Design award from Ford for the new Mustang. Genei considers Mobsteel’s involvement with Ford its biggest accomplishment.
“I know other people have done it, but we have done something different here. I'm a big fan of Ford, Chrysler and GM. For them to acknowledge what I’m doing is huge," Genei said.
According to Genei, Mobsteel is moving into selling products, such as a new line of wheels and specially designed aftermarket components that customers can purchase to transform their own vehicles into “Mobsteel” cars.
"We’re thinking, ‘let’s start selling some products,’ that way there is some income other than the cars,” he said.
Genei stresses that everything is 100 percent U.S. made, including its new line of wheels, which Mobsteel has been working on for the past three years.
“We didn’t want to produce it in China. We decided if we can’t do it here we won’t do it at all. It’s taken us three years now to gather the resources and the people,” he said.
Cross promoting with new partners such as Pirelli and Ford have also helped to boost the Mobsteel enterprise even further, Genei pointed out.
“How can you not be tied to a huge label like that and not be promoting your business,” Genei said.
Treating customers right and providing affordable service has kept Mobsteel’s customer base coming back.
“These guys have come back over and over. They know they can trust us and it’s a good value here. Our shop as a whole is a good value,” he added.
The failing economy has not slowed down the machine that is Mobsteel, either.
“We’re busy, we have a ton of work and a ton of great customers. We’re really excited and blessed with what’s going on and for now we’re just going to keep rolling with it,” Genei said. “At this point we’ve learned how to make it work. We have a good environment and we’re having a good time with it.”
Genei’s positive outlook on life is reflected in his work at Mobsteel.
“I’m glad the economy is the way it is, because it's taught me some values that my dad had preached to me for a long time but it just reinforced it. It’s not about the money," he said. "If you have passion for what you are doing and you’re enjoying life you’re thankful for the more important things in life, your family, friends. That’s what it's all about.”