We are honored and humbled that the City of Marietta, GA featured us in a Business Spotlight! Daniel Gaddis wrote an incredible article about our little shop. Check the link below for the full feature!
Economic Development Project Manager
" For our December business spotlight, I knew I had a special one.
Last week, I popped in at Koru Works LLC at 436 Roswell St and introduced myself. I was excited to finally see what was going on in the minimalist, blue-roofed car garage topped with a Japanese word I was certain to be mispronouncing. The man at the receiving end of my handshake was Gregg Bucell, a young, energetic, drift-head and general manager/head of technology/social media guru for the custom drift car shop.
He immediately met me with an unbridled enthusiasm that I found to be contagious.
Within seconds, I was being led around the shop taking in showstopping projects such as a 4-door Maserati with a Ferrari engine, a 1994 Toyota Tacoma body completely stripped out for a project for a Netflix show, a fully functional aqua and purple mini-food truck, and newly welded titanium joints in varying shades of pink and purple.
Koru Works is a car shop specializing in drift cars along with developing and designing custom parts.
For those unfamiliar, drifting is a sport, often taking place underground, of driving on a course with curves while manipulating the accelerator, steering, front, and rear brakes in a way that loosens the grip of the tires, causing the car to go into a controlled drift. Using centripetal force and the driver’s expertise, points are awarded depending on how stylishly and in control the driver can make their way around curves in a drift without hitting walls or other obstacles. Although not technically essential, Gregg and his friends would argue that in the sport of drifting, it is also necessary to customize the cars with vibrant colors and art that have become unmistakable parts of its culture.
This sport has evolved from illegal late-night racing and spinning donuts in suburban mall parking lots to large-scale televised and well-funded events taking place in NASCAR and Formula One speedways all over the world. In 2003, Formula Drift was established – the professional organization that operates as the corporate sanctioning body of drifting. This organization works to deliver the world’s most high-profile drift events to millions of fans worldwide.
The Atlanta drift scene started in the early 90s with about 25 people watching car videos on streetfire.net, a video repository for car content before the arrival of YouTube. Later, with the advent of YouTube, it became easier to share and grow the interest in the burgeoning sport of drifting.
“When a drift event occurred, you missed work, you missed school, you had to be there.” -Gregg Bucell
Koru Works currently employs two professional drift drivers. The six-man team sponsors, builds, and maintains their professional drift vehicles, all from their neat, relatively small garage across from the Marietta National Cemetery on Roswell Street. I noticed a large trophy sitting atop Gregg’s desk. He grinned and told me about the May 2021 results from the Formula Drift Pro-Spec event in Orlando. The two drivers that Koru Works sponsors made history by winning 1st and 2nd place overall. It was the first time in the history of the sport that a single team swept the top two spots in what was considered a “perfect event."
Koru Works touts themselves as more than a garage and more than a parts shop. “We create works of art. We find so much joy finding parts, assembling them, arriving at a full build.” I then asked Gregg to name his favorite part of the business. “Seeing the final product is where the most joy comes from. It’s like having a new toy for Christmas and you get the chance to play with it with your friends and their new toys. It’s a lot like that.”
Gregg reiterated over and again that they are about drifting and the culture around it.
“Money isn’t being talked about. The currency here is tires,” he stated casually as he was showing me around various projects. I learned that drifting around corners and curves eat up rubber at an astonishing pace. Gregg hollered out at Sebastian who was welding at the time. “Yo, Sebastian, how much of your paycheck goes to tires?”
Sebastian walked over to us, flipped up his welding helmet, and remarked, “You don’t wanna know.”
Gregg told me that Koru Works employs six full-time employees and started in 2010 with a single employee, founder, and owner, Tyler Clayton. Prior to his successful venture as owner of Koru Works, he was better known as an Atlanta-based graffiti artist that went by the name “Revel.” In 2010, he reached out to his buddy and fellow drifter, Gregg Bucell, to start the business of customizing vehicles oriented towards drifting. Because the shop’s specialty is the Japanese-made Nissan 240 SX, Clayton named the business “Koru" which is Japanese for revel, as in “to be absorbed in, to be devoted to, to be a fanatic about.” I found this to be an accurate descriptor for the mindset of this group.
Both Tyler and Gregg encourage their staff to grow their position and find ways to develop new skills along the way. Although in corporate settings, employee recruitment and development is meticulously analyzed and discussed, at Koru, everyone seemingly casually finds their way there. Gregg laughed and shrugged. “It feels like a start-up.”
Simon Langden, a fresh-faced early-20s, humble and soft-spoken, popped his head up when we walked over to his work area. Koru wasn’t even looking for an employee when Simon walked up to the store with a PowerPoint slide deck in hand and asked to present to management. He had compiled a sales pitch outlining his skills with CAD and why he could be an asset to Koru. Within minutes, he was on the team and has only provided increased value since. He’s now the Lead Product Developer and attending KSU at night, planning to graduate in 2022 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
When we started talking about growing the business, Gregg mentioned how integral the branding and marketing piece was. Primarily, Koru shows off their builds and customizations online and at drifting events. They have a tremendous YouTube presence as well as being very active on Instagram.
After asking Gregg about their side of the business selling parts during the pandemic, he told me that 2020 was their best year in sales up to that point. Although it may be counterintuitive, when people are working from home and they have a car they’ve been tinkering with, potential projects come to mind more often. “Then they started buying parts.”
Koru’s success didn’t end at the track when the Pro-Sec circuit finished.
“We tripled our gross revenue as compared to 2020,” he admitted sheepishly.
I was curious about how one went about getting a spot into the coveted Koru Works garage and Gregg shook his head with an apologetic smile. “We’re actually booked through 2022.”
Koru Works recently purchased the adjacent building with future intentions to have a squeaky clean showroom for customers and drift enthusiasts to come and fawn over their insane productions.
As for me, my 2013 Nissan Leaf likely won’t be accepted as a drifting project for them, but I have no doubt I’m welcome any time in the shop to discuss their newest parts and the next Formula Drift event.
You can watch Koru Works drivers compete in 2022 on the Formula Drift Pro-Spec circuit in person or on CBS Sports Network or Facebook Watch.
Gregg Bucell and fellow drift enthusiast, Lauren Petrucelli, standing with their dog, Rocket, in front of the mini-food truck serving as a merch van/work office. The brilliant Japanese vehicle is complete with a functioning sink and mini-kitchen.
Ryan Smith (below) working on project for a Netflix show, hoping to display this Frankenstein of a vehicle, a 1994 Toyota Tacoma body with a 240 SX sub frame-car. The engine is out of a Toyota Chaser in – line 6 turned 90 degrees to fit in. The vehicle has a mustang steering assembly and a corvette suspension. Truly, Mary Shelley would approve.
Special thanks to Kelly Huff, photographer for his assistance and creative eye on this project. "