You Know You're From...Polonia: Bill "Elvis" Stull

Published: Mar. 4, 2019 at 10:09 PM CST
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In Portage County, sits Polonia. And in the unincorporated town, is Kuzin's Kustom Body and Paint. Owner Bill Stull was recently honored for his custom paint work.

"When I won this 'Mavericks of Color' award," Stull said, "it's just not me it's my whole shop. If my guys did bad body work and I did good paint jobs, that car would only be so good."

"Everyone knows its Bill's shop. It's his reputation on the line so we've got to hold that up for him," said Anthony Micheloni, and employee at Kuzin's Kustom since 1995.

His passion for cars began when he was 14.

"I went from building model cars to wanting my own car. My dad let me get my own car and we fixed it up, so the bug hit me."

Even before cars were introduced into his life came a different passion.

Elvis Presley.

"August 16, 1977, the day he died," Stull recalled. "Honestly I can tell you the truth, I didn't know a thing about Elvis Presley before that."

With the hair and sideburns, Stull even became a bona fide impersonator in the 90's.

"We were drag racing in Memphis. And between drag racing and this Elvis impersonation contest I was running back and forth. And I won it in 1998. I won right across from Graceland," Stull said while laughing.

He even incorporates Elvis' "TCB," Taking Care of Business, into Kuzin's Kustom, spelled with a "K." Originally a joint venture with his cousin in 1991.

"We wanted it to be attractive looking and people would remember."

After a year, the cousin left to do his own thing. More than 27 years later, Kuzin's Kustom is going strong in crash repair, and hot rod restorations.

"We take every single nut and bolt out of a car. It's in a million pieces and we put it all back together," said Stull.

"Seeing the customer after a long restoration, and you see tears of joy, hugs and laughter, in that moment its like, yeah this is why I do this," said Micheloni.

Stull's prized paint job? A 1948 Tucker.

"Guy called me up and asked for my name, he wondered if I'd be interested in painting a car for him? I said, sure. He says 'would you have a problem painting a car that's appraised at 5-million dollars? I laughed, and am like, OK this is a joke, right?"

As quick as Stull is to give credit to his staff, he knows how important of a role wife Becky and daughter Kaitlyn play into his success.

"I don't work 8 hours, I work 16 hours," Stull said. "I've sacrificed a lot of family time, a lot of my daughter time."

His father, a preacher, passed away two weeks before he was to officiate Bill and Becky's wedding. But Bill carries a life-long lesson learned from his dad into work everyday.

"Do the job right the first time so you don't have to do it over again," he recalled his dad telling him.

A motto that has earned him national acclaim.

In his Elvis voice, "thank you, thank you very much."

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