Personalizing cars takes the right touch

Crew at auto shop always dreaming up ways to customize technology, style

By Keren Henderson Published:

Now that dove-hunting season is under way, retired national guardsman Jerry Shelton drives his Mule ATV into Franklin County fields and waits to take his shots.

Sometimes the wait takes longer than he’d like.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if I could listen to some tunes while I’m waiting?” the avid hunter thought. So he went online and researched stereo systems then headed to Final Touch Crew – now billing itself as the “home of the connected car.”

J.P. Jones, the electronics specialist at Final Touch, talked to Shelton about how he could build a custom stereo system with iPod connectivity for his Mule. Jones estimated it would cost $600-$800.

Shelton decided to sleep on it.

Jones, who holds the top certifications in the 12-volt industry, said customers are now the sound specialists, who dream up what they’d like and ask for it.

“Now people go online and look up what can be done – they’re the enthusiasts, the specialists,” he said. “It’s our job to find out what fits their lifestyle, how to apply it, how to get it done.”

Final Touch, in Frankfort since 1995, has always been about personalizing cars – all the non-mechanic stuff – body repair, windows and tinting, underglow lighting, custom grilles, spoilers and custom painting.

Owner Todd Banta today is focused on electronics, specifically DVD players and stereos that integrate with smartphones.

He recently installed headrest DVD players that connect to his iPhone in his truck, and it’s made traveling more fun for his kids Tanner, 12, and Taylor, 9, he says. He streams Netflix and music from his phone as they travel to Lake Cumberland or out-of-town soccer games.

Banta’s favorite project was a Chevy Super Sport Roadster that his crew tricked out with a huge stereo system, TVs and a paint job complete with flames. The $15,000 project ended up winning car shows across the U.S.

Sadly, that Chevy was recently totaled by the owner’s son.

“I hate it,” Banta said shaking his head.

His employees describe Banta as a people-person who often gets to know his customers and their cars. Meeting customers may be the best part, Banta says.

“Most people go to their jobs, and they don’t enjoy it,” Banta says. “I enjoy what I do for people; I enjoy seeing their expressions when we do a good job, you know, when we put in a stereo system or a TV and they can really enjoy it.”

Another plus is his business partner – his wife of 18 years, Ginny. She has handled the books from day one, and Todd Banta describes her as his perfect teammate.

Originally from St. Louis, the Bantas moved to Frankfort in 1995 to be near family. They first operated Final Touch from a mobile unit and traveled around central Kentucky, but as the business grew, traveling became impractical and they eventually built their shop on Versailles Road, which they’ve already outgrown.

Ginny Banta says she thinks business is booming because more people are keeping older cars instead of buying news ones and because of her husband’s reputation.

“He always puts the customer first,” she said. “Even with insurance companies, I’ve heard him go over and over it with insurance companies for a customer.”

Dealing with insurance companies is the not-so-fun part, Todd Banta said. But he says he’ll do whatever it takes to please a customer, and he takes that reputation seriously.

“It means everything to me,” he said. “It’s very important to me what people think about my business. I take it to heart; I take it home with me.”

Banta says he can name only one customer who was dissatisfied with a stereo he installed.

“We’ve put in thousands of stereos, and only had a problem with one,” he said, adding that the complaint came after someone stuffed some sort of food – maybe bologna – in the CD player. “I can’t remember exactly what it was, but something that clearly should not have been put in there.”

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