West Coast Customs Introduces Their New Academy

West Coast Customs Academy

West Coast Customs (WCC) has introduced their West Coast Customs Academy (WCCA) to the community.  This year-long program will cover courses in auto body, upholstery, fabrication, wheels and tires, and more.  An 8-week pilot program is currently running at WCC with five students to test out the project before launching the full academy.

West Coast Customs occupies a 60,000 square foot space in Burbank, and is known for their vehicle customization shows that have aired on MTV, Discovery, Fox Sports 2 and Motor Trend.  The shop produces fully customized multi-million-dollar car builds as well as smaller customizations like wraps and wheels. CEO, Ryan Friedlinghaus, has built a team of top technicians, fabricators, designers, electricians, and painters for the past 30 years, and is excited to guide his team into the next big project: The West Coast Customs Academy.

CEO Ryan Friedlinghaus at West Coast Customs Academy

“The academy has been in the making since 2015 and has been a huge dream of mine,” said Friedlinghaus. With automotive classes no longer being offered in many high schools, Friedlinghaus wanted to create that experience through a secondary schooling platform. “I was fortunate to have access to these classes and because of that access it made me who I am today,” added Friedlinghaus. “I would have never been this successful without those classes and that is what I want to do for others who are interested in the industry.”

The 8-week pilot program is currently active at WCC with five students, four of which are John Burroughs High School graduates.  WCC partnered with the Burbank Adult School to advertise their program which helped them receive around 18 submissions.  Applicants were asked to submit a five minute video of why they should be chosen for the academy.  

West Coast Customs Academy

“The pilot class is a great way to collect data and use it as a learning process for what we want to carry over into the full program,” said Andi Tesoro, the Program Director of the West Coast Customs Academy. The goal is to have 25-50 students participating in a year long program with a full curriculum at the campus, allowing the students more opportunities.  Each class will have five to six students per instructor and assistant, and students will rotate from class to class throughout the day.  The WCCA is open to anyone 18 and over looking for vocational job training.

West Coast Customs Academy

The pilot program is a fully hands-on training experience taught by staff at WCC that have become credentialed through Burbank. Graduation will be taking place on September 16th, 2022, where they will receive a certificate of completion and offered an opportunity to work at WCC or in the automotive industry at one of Friedlinghaus’ many networks.

“The pilot program is going amazingly well, the students are learning quickly, and they are able to see their progress in real life. The hands-on experience is important to what and how they are learning; and it is also the thing that sets our program apart from others,” said Friedlinghaus.

West Coast Customs Academy

During these past few weeks the students have taken on a special project of rendering a Mazda B2000 pickup truck which was the first custom build Friedlinghaus ever completed by himself in his garage. “The truck is very personal and important to me,” said Friedlinghaus. “I thought this would be a great launch to my Academy that I have been envisioning for over 10 years. It is full circle for me and where my career has taken me.” The students have learned first hand by disassembling the B2000, working on the suspension, bodywork, and will then be learning paint.  

West Coast Customs Academy

While the modules are much shorter in this program than they would be in the full academy, the students have been learning quickly and are excited to reveal the truck at the 2022 SEMA Show in Las Vegas this November. Classes are currently running Monday to Thursday from 8:30am-4:00pm as students learn about each process of the automotive industry. “At the end of the day the students journal what they found challenging, or what about the process they found passion in so they can see their growth over the course of the program,” said Tesoro. 

“Once the main program is launched I am looking forward to being able to teach more students in an industry that is in need, as well as looking forward to watching students through an entire year of learning and then giving them the opportunity for potential job placement,” added Friedlinghaus. “I have looked forward to this Academy for quite some time now and I know that this is a huge part of my legacy and purpose- I am looking forward to growing WCC Academy and watching the students thrive.”

To inquire more about the academy you can email questions to wcca@westcoastcustoms.com.

West Coast Customs Academy, 8 Week Pilot Program Participants