Ringbrothers Origin Story
The youngest of seven children, Mike and Jim Ring began their fascination with cars at the ages of 12 and 13. Their father owned a gas station, and they always liked being around engines. They first started painting in their uncle’s chicken coop, then moved their operations to their parents’ basement. They have been enhancing their work area ever since.
“Our mom would work 3 p.m. to midnight,” Mike mentioned. “So after we got off the school bus at 3:30, we had to get the car prepped and painted, and air the whole house out before mom got home. We had fans in every window, but we got busted every time. You can’t get rid of that smell. She’d say, ‘You’re gonna blow the house up!’ But we’d do it again.”
Striving for improvement while in high school, the Ring brothers would paint their car a different color each weekend. Every Monday, they would go to school with a different color on the car.
“We couldn’t quite get it right,” Mike said. “We just loved painting. Then other people would see that we were getting better, so we would paint their cars.”
After graduation and a few years living apart, Jim purchased a ‘69 Camaro and took it to Mike’s gas station to take it completely apart. There was oil everywhere, so he took it back to their parents’ house again to put it back together. That time, he used a homemade paint booth with plastic and two-by-fours, since their mom would no longer let him paint in the house.
“That was the first time that I figured out you could make money in the car business,” Jim said. “I decided to quit my job to open a dealership in Spring Green, Wisconsin, with a good friend of mine.”
The dealership turned out not to be a moneymaker, but Jim did not give up. He sold the dealership and opened Classic Auto Body in 1993. A year later, he asked Mike to come back to help out. Starting with oil changes and collision work, they would also do some restoration work.
“Jim wanted to tear stuff apart,” Mike said, “So that’s when we started building cars, sinking our own money into them and biting our nails, not knowing if they would sell.”
When someone approached them to build a custom car in the early ‘90s, the tide started turning from Classic Auto Body into what is now known as Ringbrothers.
“When we started going to car shows, they would say, ‘Hey, the Ring brothers are over there with their Camaro or Mustang!’” Jim said. “We never got called Mike or Jim. We always got called the ‘Ringbrothers.’ And the name stuck.”
High-Quality Paint Finishes
As the Ringbrothers name grew and the amount of work increased, Classic Auto Body still maintained quite a bit of collision work that they juggle while building two to three custom show cars per year.
“The first thing anybody looks at is the finish of the cars, and it was really our paintwork that put us on the map,” Mike said. “Paint is probably the most important thing in a business like ours. At the end of the day, you could have great fab work or build the coolest thing, but if the paint sucks, no one is going to look at it. Unfortunately, in a way, you are judged more by paint than the cars you build.”
With paint finishes at the top of their list, an exceptional spraying environment was needed to maintain the workflow and quality they desired. From priming and painting four to six collision repairs per week, then cleaning it up to paint show cars in it, the Ringbrothers needed to upgrade their dated paint booth.
“When you first start a business, you do anything you can to get going,” Mike explained. “We couldn’t afford the best paint booth at the time. So, when we were able to buy a better paint booth, we never realized how much we were losing — in time, quality, etc. It has paid for itself multiple times.”
With the purchase of a new Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) Performer Paint Booth in 2011, the Ringbrothers have never looked back.
“I will never forget the day we got our new GFS paint booth.”
Jim explained, “It was life-changing for us because we had a lot of trouble with our last paint booth. The doors wouldn’t close on it, and it let a lot of dirt and paint get through. We also never had the ability to bake anything before.”
More than just quality finishes, the Ringbrothers have learned that it is not just the paint booth that makes a spray booth manufacturer the right choice.
“We like to buy local,” Mike said. “And we have come to find that the best paint booth company is actually in our own state. Right down to the people that work there, it’s a great company and it shows. If you buy something from GFS, they are going to be there for you. Everyone assumes that because we build these cars, that we’re the best, but there’s always somebody better. Trust me, there are better people at GFS that have taught us a lot. They have shown us new products, including REVO Systems.”
REVO Systems for the Ringbrothers
After a recent visit to the Center for Excellence training facility in Osseo, Wisconsin, the Ringbrothers purchased two REVO Accelerated Curing Systems to add to their processes. Their REVO Rapid MC2 speeds things up and allows them to use cured, painted parts right away. Their REVO Handheld cures primer, removes decals, softens glue and more.
“It’s hard to believe, but if anyone should buy one thing for their shop, it’s the REVO Handheld,” Mike stated. “We take off clear bra from dealerships all the time. There’s no heat gun that would be able to get that off. I don’t know what we’d do without it. Every day, someone is coming up with another use for it.”
As the Ringbrothers continue to grow, their GFS equipment continues to stand the test of time, and they continuously count on GFS for new technology and advancements to improve their operation.
“Just the amount of time that booth has saved us over the years — with nibbing, dirt and curing — has been a godsend,” Jim added. “It’s important that we make our builds right, and you have to have the right tools to make it right.”