19-year-old runs business on faith (video)
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Nov. 15, 2013 at 5:15 a.m.
Standing in the center of his car garage, Jacoby Pennington rubs the front of his right shoe in a puddle of motor oil collecting near the truck lift.
The garage doors are open, and sunlight streams through the empty space.
A 1960s model Scout engine hangs on a hook to his left.
Pennington, 19, is rebuilding and customizing the Scout as a showcase vehicle for his garage. When it's complete, it will have a new body, new color, LED lighting, new interior, new audio, duel exhaust, suspension lowering and a complete engine rebuild.
Just like the Scout, his garage is a work in progress.
"It doesn't look like much yet, but it's going to look nice when we pull it together," the 19-year-old said about his Victoria garage, C.A.S.H Customs. "A lot of times, people can't see what I see. I see the potential in things, the end result. You have to have an eye for it."
Pennington's nail beds are soiled with motor oil, and his clothes are casual - fitting of a car mechanic.
But most 19-year-olds aren't running their own businesses or are skilled enough under and above the hood of a car to meet the needs of a vast clientele.
Pennington is - on both accounts.
"I've been working on cars since I was 12. Everything I've ever owned, I've taken apart and put back together," he said. He's been running his business out his parents' home for the past five years. "Some kids want to go to college after high school, but it's always been my dream to own my own garage."
After graduating Faith Academy in May, Pennington's parents, Thomas and Deborah Rendon, handed him a set of keys to his first garage.
Like their son, they knew it wasn't his fate to attend a four-year college. But they'd all been praying about his future, and they each decided the best way Pennington could follow God's plan was by using his skills and passions for cars to make a difference in the community.
"I want to be known as the coolest spot in Victoria. I want people to know C.A.S.H Customs works on cars and motorcycles and does crazy, over-the-top stuff," Pennington said. "But because of my faith, I want to have a good reputation in this town and be known for being trustworthy and honest and having good quality. I want to strive to keep my name honest."
C.A.S.H Customs is a family business. Pennington's grandfather, Robert Lowry, owns the property and he rents the building to Pennington and his father.
His father's involvement is secondary, however, and the burden of running the business falls almost entirely on Pennington.
"God just opened doors for him, and everything started coming together fast. Doors literally and figuratively began to open," Pennington's father said. "In spite of the naysayers, he's doing really well. As a father, it's hard for me to feel anything but proud."
Pennington isn't nervous about jumping into an entrepreneurial endeavor with no experience.
He said he's aware of his limitations, and if he feels he can't take on a job and execute it with perfection, he will refer his customers elsewhere.
"There's not anything I won't discuss with someone, and if I can figure out a way to do it, I will," he said. "But there's always going to be someone else that's better than me at something, and if that's the case, I'd rather my customers go to them. But if it's something I can do, I'll do it. And it will be the best in town."
Both father and son know at the end of the day, God is at the helm of the business.
"Obviously, he wants to make money at this down the line, but he's a kid, and he's still learning. He has a lot to learn about business and dealing with the public, and I'm there when he needs me," his father said. "But I am not worried about him. He's more talented than most adults in the same industry. And God is in control of this."
He knows 10 years from now, his shop will look and feel differently than it does today.
He believes it will be a staple in Victoria for car customization excellence.
"I'm going to bring this shop back to how it looked in the 1950s; it's going to look great," he said. "But mostly, I just want to be successful, be true to myself and my beliefs and have a steady, loyal client base."