By Christina Autry
Daniel Marks is continuing the legacy that Custom Car Stereo began in 1976. Specializing in installing electronic additions and making the perfect modifications to old and new cars alike, Marks has taken the reigns of this beloved business for the past four years. Longtime customers may recognize Custom Car Stereo in its former Southwest Houston location, and they can expect the same quality service at the new Spring Branch home.
Whether vehicle owners are seeking style, convenience, or safety, Custom Car Stereo is ready to work to meet your needs. “We do our best to accommodate every customer, and put a smile on their faces,” says Marks. Interacting with as many people as he has over the years, Marks makes sure to work within the parameters of each individual budget.
From car detailing to window tints, ceramic coatings, paint protection film, lifts, accessories for trucks, flip down DVDs or headrest DVDs, “we do just about everything,” says Marks.
“One of the things I love doing here is helping parents with kids who are first-time drivers,” says Marks. “They get them an older car that doesn’t have all the safety and technology features. I add those features to the cars, giving their parents peace of mind.” Back-up cameras, dash and lane-change cams, parking sensors, and GPS tracking are some of the additions that parents commonly request. Setting up Apple CarPlay or Android Auto allows kids to perform necessary tasks on their phones hands-free.
Marks comes from a family of business owners. Starting at the age of 10, Marks began helping out in his family’s jewelry business, IW Marks, in Houston. He remembers helping his parents with tasks around the store until he was old enough to start handling sales and purchasing. Eventually he and his brother shared ownership of the store.
Although he devoted his time to running the jewelry business, Marks fostered a passion for cars and electronics. “My dad was into collecting cars,” he says, “and I had always helped him maintain them and I loved driving them. I was also a big fan of all kinds of electronics and media.”
“I had been a customer at Custom Car Stereo since 1986, and I liked the way they worked,” he says. Marks got to know Steve Kingsley, the company’s founder, over the next 33 years of visiting the shop. When Kingsley decided it was time to retire, he knew who the right person was to take over his business. “It was a perfect fit,” says Marks.
Giving his ownership of the jewelry shop to his brother, Marks stepped into his new role as owner of Custom Car Stereo in 2016. As a resident of Spring Branch, Marks knew that relocating from the original Southwest location was the right move. “We love this area. My wife teaches in Spring Branch. This is where we choose to hang our hat,” he laughs.
Now, Mark’s sister-in-law is the company’s office manager, and he has employed four techs each with an average of 25 years of experience. “It’s difficult finding techs like the ones we have, with the skills needed to work on the variety of cars that come in,” says Marks. With their forte being higher-end cars, they work on newer European vehicles that other shops won’t touch. “What sets us apart is our techs’ tremendous amount of experience, know-how, and attention to detail,” says Marks.
Though oftentimes modern vehicles are brought to Custom Car Stereo, the team did not shy away from a recent request to add cameras to a 1934 Ford. “We’ve restored a lot of mid-60’s hotrods, but the Ford was the oldest car that we’ve ever worked on,” says Marks.
Normally, at a given time, there would be about 10-12 cars in the shop. However, with the Harris County “stay at home” order in response to Covid-19, the business has seen a reduction of about 50-70%. Sanitizing each vehicle has been their standard practice since before the pandemic, but the company has come up with new drop-off and pick-up procedures to help customers feel safe.
“We’re struggling like everybody else, but we’re trying to survive and stay around,” says Marks. Despite the challenges, his original passion remains. “My favorite part about this business is seeing the different cars that we get through here, and talking to people who have the same passion that I do about vehicles,” he says.
Drop by or call and make an appointment; either is welcome at Custom Car Stereo. Support this local business as they make it through this difficult time; your car will thank you for it.