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Turning a passion into a new business

Culpeper native Shane Hull loves taking things apart and reassembling them into something cool.

When he was young, it was model cars, then real cars. As he got older, it was motorcycles. He’d figure out how to stretch them, repaint them and add a fat rear tire.

“It’s about the customization of them, making them my own,” said Hull, who likes a ride that gets him noticed. “You’ve got to have a fat tire or go home.”

Now the 43-year-old contractor has taken that passion for transformation and turned it into a business. He and his wife, Mary, are opening Custom Rocketz, a custom motorcycle shop, in downtown Culpeper today. The ribbon-cutting will be Tuesday, and the Hulls will hold a bike show April 5 at the Buffalo Wild Wings at 763 Nalles Mill Road in Culpeper.

“Shane’s talked about this for 12 years,” Mary Hull said of their new venture. “Finally I said, ‘Enough is enough. Let’s do it.’ We decided to jump in with both feet.”

The Hulls have had people knocking on the front door ever since they began renovating the former Dodge dealership at the corner of North Main and West Evans streets.

Many are family friends or motorcycle enthusiasts Shane Hull has ridden with over the years. More than a few have picked up a hammer or paintbrush and helped out.

“We can’t keep people out and we haven’t even opened,” Mary Hull marveled on Monday.

Four customized motorcycles are displayed on a platform inside the shop so they’re visible to traffic at the busy intersection. One is Maybelline, Mary Hull’s colorful powder-coated Suzuki Hayabusa.

The shop displays sells?motorcycle gear and after-market parts by such companies as Scorpion, Tucker Rocky, C&S Custom, Western Power Sports and Brocks Performance Exhaust. And four used motorcycles await customization in the shop at the rear of the building.

“We’ll sell custom, but we will have some stock [motorcycles],” Shane Hull said, adding that in-house financing will be available.

Currently, one of the shop’s two lifts is occupied by Andrew “Dru” Thacker’s motorcycle, which the local artist is airbrushing freehand

to look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. He’s also going to paint the store’s logo—a nitrous–oxide-breathing half-Minotaur, half-motorcycle—on the wall next to the store’s counter.

Custom Rocketz even has a waiting area equipped with a TV, PlayStation 4, sofa and play area for children. And, just for fun, there’s Candy, a mannequin attired in a racy sailor dress, stockings and heels, standing next to the support pole in the center of the shop.

Custom Rocketz is a far cry from the plumbing business, which is what Shane Hull grew up in. His father, John H. Hull, had owned and operated H&H Plumbing and his older brother, John H. Hull Jr., followed in his footsteps and opened his own plumbing company.

Shane Hull worked for them both, and then started Watertight, a remodeling business.

“My dad was a successful business owner. I’m a successful business owner with Watertight,” he said. “But it’s not my passion.”

Speed and customization, however, are. Hull grew up next door to the owners of Sumerduck Dragway and got involved in racing motorcycles. He’s also followed the growth of a Lexington, N.C., company, Garwood Custom Cycles, since it opened more than a dozen years ago.

“They were an inspiration,” he said.

The death of his father last July—plus his wife’s wholehearted support—convinced him that the time had come to turn his passion into a business. While he’ll continue to run Watertight until his son can take it over, Custom Rocketz will be his main focus.

“I want to live the rest of my life to the fullest and be the happiest,” Shane Hull said. “The saddest thing is to be 67 and think, I wish, I coulda, shoulda.”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407,