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VIDEO: No dream too big: ‘Bad Chad’ teaches life lessons while building custom cars


Hiltz couldn’t have envisioned TV success

CANNING, N.S. —

“There’s no dream too big.”

That’s the message “Bad Chad”, AKA Chad Hiltz, hopes will resonate with people. He couldn’t have foreseen how his passion for building custom cars in his shop on Highway 358 outside of the small village of Canning would explode into a world-wide phenomenon. He now has a TV show that is being enjoyed by millions of viewers.

“If I can do it, anyone can do it. I can’t tell you as a young man that I grew up saying I was going to be a professional body man and that I was going to be on TV. That’s crazy,” Hiltz said. “I didn’t even make it through school, you know?”

The show, Bad Chad Customs, debuted on the Discovery Channel in the United States on New Year’s Day and has since debuted in Canada, as well as in several other countries around the world. It airs on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on Discovery Canada.

Hiltz - who has won numerous awards for his custom builds - said he’s approaching the show like a job, which essentially it is.

“I work for Discovery and I take it very serious, they’re my best client yet,” he said.

Hiltz has been busy and hasn’t been out in the community much since the show’s debut, so he hasn’t heard a great deal of local reaction. Hiltz said his mother and her friends are very happy for him but he recognizes that everyone has their own life to lead.

“I hope everyone is growing, because I know I am, in all ways,” Hiltz said.

Chad Hiltz of Hiltz Auto Co. and Discovery Channel’s Bad Chad Customs welding in his shop.
Chad Hiltz of Hiltz Auto Co. and Discovery Channel’s Bad Chad Customs welding in his shop.

Hiltz and partner Jolene MacIntyre have been receiving online messages from fans around the globe and they appreciate the support. Hiltz said he particularly enjoys hearing from people who tell him he has inspired them. This inspires him to keep going and to work even harder.

On a recent trip to Florida, Hiltz was “recognized everywhere.” He and MacIntyre attended a car show and everyone knew “Bad Chad”. They were also quickly recognized at a Beach Boys concert. Hiltz said it’s a strange feeling to have people you don’t know staring at you and you have to “take it with a grain of salt.”

“It’s cool and kind of scary at the same time,” Hiltz said. “We had a good response from everybody, everybody who came up to me said that they love the show.”

He said they built a car a month and put in 100 hours a week for seven months. If they weren’t working in the shop, they were filming on location. Hiltz said few people could appreciate how much time and work goes into producing 42 minutes of content for an hour-long TV episode. However, he couldn’t be happier with the results and said Love Productions has done an outstanding job on the show.

Although he hasn’t had time to work on cars for other customers since the TV production began, Hiltz said he keeps a list of people who want him to do custom jobs. They’re calling from all over the world. He’s also fielding calls from people around the world who want to give him things so they can see him make something out of it on TV.

He said the show has also given his son, apprentice Colton Hiltz, long-time friend and builder Aaron Rand and mechanic Alex Gould an opportunity to do what they love and to be recognized for it. He has a great appreciation for the efforts of MacIntyre, who “does an awesome job keeping it all together.”

“We’re a team,” Hiltz said.

It was because he could do it his way that he was first attracted to building custom cars. He was so inspired after meeting MacIntyre that he wanted to do something special for her. This led to him building her a Bugatti from scratch. Hiltz said it all started from “good thoughts” and “good decisions.”

MacIntyre and Hiltz produce videos featuring Hiltz and his projects every Friday to show on Facebook. It’s time consuming and a lot of work, but worth it. The videos routinely have in excess of 100,000 views and played a role in them being discovered by the TV industry.

Hiltz said it took a little while to get used to having someone follow you around with a camera all the time but soon it felt normal. A proposal has been made for a second season and Hiltz said they are currently working toward that goal.

He said pretty much anyone can appreciate the show, which is about much more than chopping and building cars: it’s about life lessons, too.

“If you really want something, be crazy enough to dream it, it may come true,” Hiltz said. “And if it doesn’t, at least it will keep your brain occupied, you know what I’m saying?”

Chad Hiltz of Hiltz Auto Co. and Discovery Channel’s Bad Chad Customs in his Canning area shop.
Chad Hiltz of Hiltz Auto Co. and Discovery Channel’s Bad Chad Customs in his Canning area shop.

Rockabilly Weekend: It’s on

Hiltz said they still plan to host Rockabilly Weekend at his property just outside of Canning during the third weekend of August. He said it involves a lot of work but the bigger the better for the community and the entire province.

He hopes that people come from everywhere and that local businesses are prepared and on board. After all, “you only get out what you put in.”

“I hope that we have a traffic jam from Kentville to New Minas to Wolfville. I hope it blows the place right up, you know?” Hiltz said. “As we do well, I’m hoping that the people around us do well.”

When he started hosting the weekend several years ago, it was an event for his friends and the classic and custom car communities. Initially, it was a way for him to promote and advertise his craft and generate more business. He works on a project during the event so people can see him in action.

“Hard work prevails,” Hiltz said. “Hard work beats talent every day when talent doesn’t work, so I’ve got a little bit of both.”

They anticipate the show generating a lot of tourism and they may eventually establish a coffee or merchandise shop of some sort for visitors. Hiltz said they would be busy building customs this summer, so it may be a lot of work controlling traffic on his property while getting the job done. They’re probably going to have to put some kind of restrictions in place.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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