Changing bodies, from tattoos to cars

By Mel Natwick

At age six, Josh Mahoney started his first business by mowing lawns. Now 22 years later, he owns his own auto body shop just because of his love for art.

Josh Mahoney (right) helps an employee by looking inside the hood of the car. Mahoney started JCA Customs in 2007 to apply his love of art to cars. “I took something I love doing and took a chance on it,” Mahoney said. “I put everything I had into it.” Photo by Mel Natwick

Mahoney was born in Valencia, Calif., homeschooled and lived in poverty.

“When I was growing up, I never had a brand new pair of clothes,” Mahoney said. “I might had new shoes twice.”

Mahoney and Aaron Williams have been long-time friends for 16 years and grew up together dealing with poverty.

“It was a total living experience,” Williams said. “We learned what we needed in life more than what we wanted.”

Mahoney has been doing tattoos off-and-on for six years and body piercings for 13 years, but wanted to get out of the business because of the people.

“It was like being on Jerry Springer,” Mahoney said. “It was common for people to come in and trade food stamps for tattoos. It disgusted me.”

Mahoney decided to go to Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Wash., to study electronics and radio broadcast technology. He paid for college through body piercings, tattoos and tinting windows.

Mahoney discovered his love for auto body at Bates; however, he found it by urinating on a stranger.

Since Mahoney and Williams have been friends for 16 years, they have created games to entertain each other.

“We would do whatever we wanted to do,” Williams said. “So we created this ongoing game of peeing in the stalls next to each other. It lasted for about two years.”

Mahoney and Williams attended Bates together and worked at the television station. On Oct. 22, 2002, Mahoney went to the restroom.

“I went to the bathroom and didn’t look at the stall,” Mahoney said. “So abiding by the rules of the game I peed over the wall and soaked the stall next to me. Then I heard a rustling of newspaper and heard a guy, and that’s when I knew that I peed on somebody.”

Williams saw Mahoney run into the video production room telling Williams not to say anything.

Williams acted normal when the man was looking for Mahoney. However, video record showed Mahoney running out of the bathroom with the man shortly following after.

“Me and Aaron got pulled out of our civics class by the police,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney was charged with assault with a bodily fluid and was suspended from Bates for three months.

“When I came back, the only available opening was auto body,” Mahoney said. “Since I grew up doing artwork with my mom, I just decided to go to auto body and paint.”

After Mahoney graduated, he washed cars at the Lexus dealership in Fife, Wash. Mahoney did not do anything with his auto body degree for two and a half years until Mahoney’s managers asked him to put a $600 grill on a Cadillac.

Mahoney got recommended at Paramount Centre in Fife and received a job, starting his career in professional auto body.

Mahoney wanted to get out the professional auto body industry.

“I blew out my shoulder 16 times and I broke my back so I can’t function at an auto body level anymore, but I like painting,” Mahoney said. “So I wanted to find a way to do artwork and painting, but still make money.”

In 2007, Mahoney started JCA Customs at his one-car garage duplex in Puyallup, Wash.

“The biggest challenge [owning a business] is getting over of being afraid,” Mahoney said. “The first six months I was scared out of my mind because I thought I was going to be homeless.”

Mahoney had to sell everything that he owned including two street bikes, a $6000 tool box, cars and snowboards.

One year later, Mahoney moved his shop to Sumner, Wash., and hired five more employees in order to expand his business. One of those employees is Michael Bosshardt who has been working at JCA Customs for three years.

“I needed a job and Josh gave me one,” Bosshardt said. “He is very helpful, very friendly. He’s willing to do anything to help somebody out.”

Bosshardt has continued working for Mahoney because of his “lax” attitude.

“Work is not supposed to suck and Josh understands that,” Bosshardt said. “It makes it a lot more fun. He makes auto body tolerable.”

After two years, Mahoney decided to close his shop in Sumner and continue his business at his new home in Puyallup.

“He was paying so much money just to have a shop, renting a duplex and paying Mike every week,” said TyChella Vasquez, Mahoney’s girlfriend.

Vasquez has helped M

ahoney with JCA Customs by helping him move from shop to shop.

“He would start at nine in

the morning until three o’clock at night,” Vasquez said. “We would always get food at three in the morning because tha

t was the only time we could hang out because we both worked so much.”

A JCA Custom employee works on the engine of a car. Photo by Mel Natwick

Mahoney has been at his new home for over a year, and his friends and co-workers recognize his work.

“He had to build from absolutely nothing, to building a business at his duplex,” Williams said.

Mahoney plans to work on cars for the rest of his life. As long as he continues art, painting and airbrushing cars are not going away.

“It’s not really about owning

my own business, but doing what I want to do, and not having to go to a job and hate my life for the rest of my life,” Mahoney said.

Check out JCA Customs on Facebook:

Categories: Other, Student Life

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1 reply

  1. Great job Mel! This article incorporated the quotes well and kept me interested throughout. I just wish you’d highlight how he found his love for auto body by urinating on a stranger sooner in the article.

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