Cars are an intrinsic part of Adam Genei’s legacy.
One of his grandfathers owned a dealership and another had a shop. His dad worked in dunnage (materials used to secure cargo in ships) and Genei started welding and driving Hi-Los and semi trucks when he was a student at Hartland High School.
Genei, 41, has been using his automotive wherewithal for the past 14 years as the owner of Mobsteel, a custom car business with locations in Detroit and Brighton. He runs the company with his wife and business partner, Pam Genei, and the two also own the Detroit Steel Wheel Co.
Viewers will learn more about the Geneis, their four kids, a handful of eccentric employees and a love of hot rods and tricked-out suspension systems when the new reality series “Detroit Steel” premieres Saturday night on History.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to share not only the story of the automotive industry, but Detroit and its most important asset — the people and what drives them,” said Genei, who lives in Brighton. “Growing up in the area, I’ve been in the industry my whole life.”
In the premiere installment, a nostalgic client named George Ford hires Genei and his crew to overhaul his rusty, dusty 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. Ford owned the same model car as a teenager and worked for the Oldsmobile plant in Lansing for nearly 36 years. Between Ford, his dad and various uncles and cousins, he estimates that his family worked for Oldsmobile for a combined 300 years.
As for “Detroit Steel,” the pace picks up when the Mobsteel guys dismantle the Rocket and rebuild it piece by piece. Doug Haines handles the engine, Ron Coan breathes new life into the car with a breathtaking paint job and Steve “Steve-O” Ryan works his magic with the air suspension.
Genei turns to Mario’s Auto Upholstery in Southwest Detroit when reupholstering the seats and plays “Let’s Make a Deal” with a parts guy in Whitmore Lake. As is the case with most makeover shows, the client reveal proves to be the most satisfying part of the episode.
A subplot focuses on Genei’s need for robotic assistance for Detroit Steel Wheel and his subsequent trip to ICR Services in Warren. The producers, who also worked on an incarnation of the series called “Mobsteel” that aired on the NBC Sports Network two years ago, use music, lighting and cutaways to make even the most mundane scenes seem enticing. Meanwhile, a rather telegenic Genei has a knack for talking to TV audiences in a conversational and relatable way.
But Genei, who attended Ferris State University, said more than anything, he wants national audiences to connect with his story and that of his family, employees, vendors and clients.
“Detroit is so unique because of stories like George’s,” Genei said. “It’s really cool to show people how very exciting and rewarding the automotive industry is, how it is a lifestyle for all of us and why we’re so passionate about cars. It’s just American manufacturing and it’s awesome.”
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based TV critic and entertainment reporter.
Premieres 10 p.m. Saturday