Wednesday, 01 October 2014 00:00

Collision Repair Instructor Inspires Students, Paves Way for SEMA

Written by Victoria Antonelli

Inspirational teachers can be hard to come by, but their impact lasts a lifetime.

Dan Snook, Department Coordinator of Collision Repair Tech at Cypress College in CA, fulfilled that role in the lives of former students Cuulong and Jim Le.

“After graduation, our teacher/student relationship with Dan turned into a friendship, and eventually we became like family,” said Cuulong.

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The three met on Snook's first day of teaching, which happened to be the Le brothers' first day of class at Cypress.

“They were typical college kids who weren’t sure what they wanted to do, but shared a love for cars,” said Snook. “It took some prodding to find that their interests were in the custom end of the industry. After completing the normal curriculum, the brothers would stay after and mix all these wild colors and come up with unique paint designs. That is where they excelled.”

Cuulong and Jim opened Buddha Concepts Design in 2008, but had been receiving attention since they started working out of their garage in 2005. Their unique custom fabrication painting skills have landed their finished products in Super Streetbike, Hotbikes, Baggers, Import Tuner, Super Street, Face Off, Performance Bike Japan, and Street Fighter UK magazines, a T-Mobile commercial, Hawaii 5.0, and in three music videos with artists Chris Brown, Calvin Harris and Nero.

Seventy-percent of the shop's profit has come from motorcycle projects, but a recent partnership with a luxury wheel company has brought their focus back to cars.

“It’s nice to get noticed, but it’s not about the money, it’s about doing what we love,” said Cuulong. “As long as we are making enough to support ourselves and our families, we’re happy.”

Even with international notoriety, the Le brothers remain humble, crediting success to their former instructor, as well as Frederick B., renowned airbrush artist in Orange County.

“Dan is the reason we do what we do; he taught us how to paint,” said Cuulong. “He has been a major contributor to our success, and without him our dream wouldn’t be possible.”

That is why the Le brothers were eager to give back when Snook’s girlfriend, Michelle, came to them with an idea for his 50th birthday.

Snook thought his Harley was being detailed, when in reality, it was at Buddha Concepts Design, receiving an over 50-hour-long makeover.

“The story kept changing, and the process was taking longer than usual, but I honestly didn’t think twice about it at the time,” said Snook.

Upon entering the birthday party, Jim introduced Snook to his now burnt-orange Harley, varnished with paintings of their beloved teacher, while Cuulong stood back to watch the reaction.

“He had tears in his eyes,” said Michelle.

“I was floored and deeply touched,” said Snook. “It’s not a feeling you can put into words.”

Snook and the Le Brothers will be heading to Las Vegas for the 2014 SEMA Show. This is Buddha Concepts Design's fifth year of attendance. Their features for this November include a full-custom Lexus GS 350 for AirRex Suspension, a Lexus LS 460 for the air runner’s booth, a Lexus LS 430 for R1 Concepts and a Nissan 240sx for the VIP Modular Wheels.

“We are expecting a last minute addition before the show, but we’d prefer to not have a repeat of our first SEMA experience,” said Cuulong. “We worked 20 hour days, redesigning three cars in six weeks. I lost 35 pounds.”

Snook said he is proud of his former students and all their hard work. He stresses the importance of “success that can’t be weighed by a paycheck,” and the need for more stories, like this one, that highlight industry achievements.

Read 2168 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 23:22