When it comes to high-end hot rods, serious Pro Touring musclecars, and some of the raddest rides around, Kindig-It Design in Salt Lake City, Utah, ranks among the top builders. But this feature isn’t about the amazing cars and trucks that come out of the Utah shop, nor is it about the company’s founder, head honcho, and current television star of the hit Velocity show Bitchin’ Rides.
I was absolutely terrified to take this leap of faith with him. – Charity Kindig
A star in her own right, Charity has been interested in cars since she was a little girl. With a father who was a hot rodder and car club member, and a mother who was certainly a fan of classic cars herself, Charity grew up knowing all about the hot rodder passion.
Before she could drive on her own, it was going to car shows and cruise-ins with her parents that Charity enjoyed, telling us she fondly remembers dropping pebbles and pennies through the floorboard of her mother’s ’55 Bel Air during her childhood. When it was time for Charity to get her license, it was another Chevy that made an influence in her life – this time it was a 1967 Chevelle that her dad bought her for her as her first car.
“My mother didn’t agree with his choice,” Charity explained to us. “She wanted me to have ’69 Camaro. At 15 years old, I didn’t care either way – it had wheels and [a] steering wheel, and I was excited to own a car!”
“It was a project for my Dad and I,” she continued. “We gutted the Chevelle and sanded it down for a new paint job. My father painted it in black lacquer, and I proceeded to wet sand it for a final polish. Needless to say we never polished it, so it always had this satin flat look to it. It was cool before it was cool.” Charity continued, “My father installed a new carpet and red velour Cadillac seats. He also installed a radio he bought at a swap meet and added house speakers in the back window. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to own this one of a kind beast. I will always cherish the time my dad and I spent on this project.”
With the coolest car in the high school parking lot, Charity and her friends enjoyed cruising State Street in the Chevelle, and frequenting dance clubs. It was at one of these clubs that she met the love of her life, Dave Kindig.
Charity held on to the Chevelle until her and Dave were getting married, trading the car for something more fuel efficient. To replace it, Dave bought her a ’62 VW Bug that she tells us, she loved almost as much as she loved her classic musclecar.
A Career in the Automotive World
As a young car enthusiast, Charity delved into the automotive hobby on the work front as well, claiming a parts-runner job at a local automotive shop. Once there, she worked her way up the ranks, eventually becoming a manager and overseeing the warehouse. After the aftermarket shop, her next automotive job was as co-owner and impromptu secretary of Kindig-It Design.
For years, the thought of opening a custom shop was deeply seeded in Dave Kindig’s mind. He had been working out of the couple’s garage on various projects for family and friends, and wanted to take his passion for building and turn it into a full-time job. Charity was all for it, telling Dave that once their youngest child was born, he could quit his job and build a business of his own. It was just six weeks after the couple’s youngest child, Drew, was born that Dave quit his job, ready for the next adventure. “I was absolutely terrified to take this leap of faith with him,” Charity explained.
After just two months, the business was doing so well that Dave moved it from the family’s garage to a commercial building. When he came home one night and told Charity that he needed to hire a secretary, she told him absolutely not. “That was the beginning of the end for me,” she told us. “I have been here ever since.”
Kindig-It Design is now one of the premiere custom automotive shops in the country, with nationally-recognized builds coming out of the shop on a yearly basis, appearances at major automotive shows happening year round, including shows like the Goodguys Southwest Nationals and SEMA, and of course most recently, a top-rated TV show on Velocity featuring many of the shop’s builds. Without Charity standing by Dave on his dream so long ago and throughout it all, none of this would have been possible. “It is the most rewarding experience to build a business with your best friend, and the hardest thing I have ever done,” Charity explained.
With Kindig-It Design coming up on 18 years in business, Charity has taken her role in the company to great heights. Not only is she co-owner of the company, she’s also the vice president, overseeing just about every part of the company.
She also started – and continues to play a part in designing and selling Kindig-It Design apparel, which the couple’s 20-year-old daughter Baylee now oversees. To say that Charity is the backbone that supports, structures, and keeps Kindig-It Design organized and running smoothly on a daily basis would be a harsh understatement.
So what’s Charity’s favorite part about being in the automotive industry? It starts with the people! “Car people are the best people,” Charity told us. “This industry keeps me young, it’s always changing and evolving to cool new things. People have such a passion for their automobiles and it’s always great to hear their history and story. I also really appreciate the art and culture that surrounds the custom car scene.”
Making It in a Male-Dominated Industry
Though Kindig-It Design has been such a success with Charity and Dave Kindig behind the wheel, Charity has still experienced her fair share of stereotyping in the industry because she’s a female. When asked what obstacles she’s had to overcome to reach her current success, Charity responded with “Creating my position in this industry where my authority is recognized and the knowledge I have is taken seriously. It’s frustrating when you have the knowledge to answer people’s questions, but they don’t bother to ask because they assume since I’m a woman, I wouldn’t have the answer.”
Undeterred by what some of the “good ole boys” might think about women in the automotive world, Charity told us that her best defense against such stereotyping is her attitude. “A little sass and confidence usually get’s me through most situations,” she explained.
As far as advice for women looking to get into an automotive career, Charity had this to say; “Never give up, never stop learning, be a hot rod force to be reckoned with, [and] don’t be afraid to get some grease under your nails. This company we built is the second most rewarding thing I have done in my life, the first being a mother to my children.”
In case you were wondering, Dave and Charity’s first-born, Baylee, is a diehard car girl herself. She is currently the shop’s executive assistant, having worked her way up from a parts runner for the guys in the shop. The couple’s youngest, Drew, is also a creative soul, although designing cars is less his thing than designing theater sets and dabbling in furniture design.
Looking to the Future
Charity may have her hands full as vice president of Kindig-It Design, and mother and wife, but she still finds time to partake in some of her favorite pastimes like playing golf, decorating, and anything that has to do with creating things. She’s also very passionate about a number of causes, which the Kindig family contributes to regularly, including suicide prevention in children and mental health causes.
Moving forward, Charity would like to write a book about the couple’s “trials and tribulations of owning a hot rod shop,” as well as continue to help grow and evolve their business as the automotive industry grows and chages. There will also be plenty of traveling to events, and restoring a family heirloom (her dad’s 1957 Corvette, which Charity is looking forward to working on with her dad on in the Kindig-It shop). She is even planning a wedding for Baylee, to which Charity said, “Hopefully she likes hot rod themed weddings!”
An amazing woman, mother, wife, business person, and influence in the automotive world, Charity Kindig is certainly one female that we can all look up to in the car scene. One of a kind without any apologies, we’re thankful to be able to call the woman behind Kindig-It Design’s success our latest Rod Authority Leading Lady!