Thomas "TJ" Loftin
Owner of TJLoftin.com and Owner of KLC Development LLC
The Beginnings TJ is a native of Compton, California (officially known as The Hub City). He was coached and inspired by many African-American business leaders and innovators since the age of 9. Early exposure to the science behind hydraulic technology and the successful completion of the Auto-Mechanics program at his alma mater, Centennial High School led him to becoming a major force within the automotive world by age 21. He transitioned low riders and classic cars from a mere hobby into a global enterprise.
He founded and operated Express Gold Plating, Compton Wire Wheels, and Molded Suspension. Also, he was the essential player in merging the low rider culture with the entertainment industry, initially through West Coast hip hop. That old Chevrolet Impala that everyone seemed to have grown up with became a star, especially if it were a '64! With international appeal and increased demand, TJ became highly sought after for the technical and marketing aspects of the business. As a result of TJ's contributions, the combined low riders, classic cars, and car accessories has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry!
Growing up in the 1980s was challenging for TJ. Faced with an environment riffed with the cycle of drugs, gang violence, and recurring incarceration, TJ chose a different path. Inspired by elders (now ancestors) Gary May, Homer Walters, and the legend Terry Carter, TJ took what he loved to do and elevated it! As he learned in Auto Shop class, he immediately applied knowledge and capitalized on it. Soon, he was earning $5,000.00 to $6,000.00 per month by flipping cars from his mother's backyard. He was convinced that he was doing well as he was making more than what his mother was earning at her job. But, the elders foresaw within TJ what more he could do in furthering low riders as a business and even an empire!
TJ saw the vision. He learned from his elders to always give back to the Community and to look out for family and friends. He was cognizant and intentional in assisting one unemployed or re-entering society post incarceration. He would immediately place the individual on path with an apprenticeship parlaying into an entrepreneurial ownership situation. TJ is very privy to others' abilities and gifts. He identifies and then executes. During the last thirty years, TJ has directly helped at least 100 individuals become very successful business owners, and indirectly, thousands become very successful in various segments of the automotive and transportation industries. This consistent activity easily groomed TJ into becoming a coach.
The TJ Brand
After selling his businesses, Express Gold Plating, Compton Wire Wheels, and Molded Suspension, TJ transitioned to other areas of business, yet still having a stronghold on the low rider and classic car industries. With demand high for early year Impalas, finding original parts became more difficult. He readily identified key parts that he could manufacture himself. He delved in, creating universal trunk rain gutters for model years 1959-1964, and convertible top mounts for model years 1959 through 1962. After 10 years of using an e-commerce business model and various marketing strategies (including social media), he remains successful at manufacturing and distributing these parts globally.
During the last several years, TJ has shared his backstory on stage and in classrooms. He uses himself as an example while emphasizing key pathways and choices that would lead to optimum results. He infuses real world scenarios to best engage with his audience. He'd admit that had he known earlier in life about intellectual property, to attain patents and trademarks for his inventions, he would have been a multibillionaire! He stresses the importance of protecting one's own creativity, ingenuity, and innovations against others who exploit for profit. In recent years, he has partnered with traditional, charter, private, and homeschools by gearing up the youth for future business ownership opportunities within the automotive industry. TJ served as an advisor to the Compton and Inglewood cities unified school districts. Also, he successfully had reinstated the same Auto Mechanics program he had as a student. TJ is a recurring speaker on tour with the Black College Expo and S.T.E.A.M Expo. He offers trainings, TJ's Toolbox for the youth, and Rust to Riches for adults. With all of his offerings, TJ always emphasizes entrepreneurship and ownership. He challenges his students to think outside of the box, push for new innovations. Very few have been surprised by TJ's successes, solely based upon who his coaches were. With the support of friends and colleagues, taking risks and initiatives was the only way for TJ to innovate the low rider and classic car industry and revolutionize the entire automotive world!
Highly revered within the low rider and classic car industry, TJ was invited to be an advisor on the film set of the 2015 mega-hit film, Straight Outta Compton. Beyond the film, low riders received the ultimate showcase, the 2022 Super Bowl! Globally, the low riders were at the forefront of epic cultural celebration. Never before had low riders been utilized to this extent in marketing and advertising, especially in its representation of Compton, California.
Today, TJ travels the world, speaking about wealth opportunities from intellectual property and innovations within the low rider and classic car industries. Also, he's addressed international audiences with his flare of knowledge and innovation for technical and manufacturing advancements within the auto industry. As the innovators and pioneers of low riders and classic cars retire or pass away, the legacy must continue. Current technologies allow much easier entry into and adaptability to the low rider and classic car industries. TJ recruits to further grow this high-end niche market. The pathways to the various aspects of the automotive industry seem endless!
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