PALMETTO -- For someone who is a laid-back kind of guy, becoming a celebrity can be challenging.
Slick, who owns Slick's Garage with his wife, Jane Hunter, found that out after starring in the Discovery Channel reality show, "Highway to Sell."
"I didn't realize so many people watched the show," Slick said. "And a lot of people from different countries."
The premise of the show was to make a deal with the owners of broken-down vintage automobiles to restore the vehicle to mint condition with the show host and automotive expert, Dennis Pittsenbarger, and Slick spending their own money.
When they were finished, the car was auctioned off and the owner had to make a decision to take a cut of the profit or buy the vehicle back at a discount rate.
It made for some suspenseful television viewing.
As the Discovery promotion puts it, "Will the owners choose to let go of their beloved classics and walk away with the cash, or will the thought of seeing their dream car in the hands of another be too much to handle?"
The changes Slick encountered after appearing in the six episodes, which premiered in September, include people seeing him in public wanting a photo and autograph, and more people who want their vintage cars restored.
Slick, who uses only his nickname, and Hunter, moved their automotive repair and custom body shop to Palmetto in 2010, and already had a reputation in the area for their First Friday Car Shows at their 925 Fifth St. W. location.
Slick and his shop also have been featured on the Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage" and TUFF TV's "Tail Fins and Chrome."
But the reaction to "Highway to Sell" was far and beyond anything he expected.
Since the airing of the show, Hunter and Slick have gone to restaurants or shopping and noticed teenagers or younger children taking cellphone videos of him on the sly.
"Then they get the courage to come up to Slick for his autograph," Hunter said. "It's so good to think the show has spurred an interest (in vintage-car restoration) in the next generation."
But what really surprised the couple was the world-wide fame Slick has gained.
"I went to Vegas for a car show," Slick said, "and I couldn't take five steps without a camera in my face."
The reception at the Las Vegas car show he received from stars of other automotive shows was even more unexpected.
"They're my heroes," Slick said, "Now they want my autograph. It's nice to have them come up to you and say, 'You do good work.'"
Hunter, who did not appear in the show, had to deal with an increase in phone calls and emails to the office.
"For about two, three weeks after the last show aired in the U.S., I was getting hundreds of calls," she said. "They didn't necessarily want Slick to work on their cars, they just wanted to reminisce about a car they had."
Now that the show is being broadcast overseas, a new wave of phone calls and emails has begun, she said.
Publicity from the show not only benefited Slick's Garage, but also the area.
Elliott Falcione, executive area of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau, said productions such as "Highway to Sell" have long-term effect on Manatee County's economy.
"They plant a seed for future visitors to the area," Falcione said. "'Forrest Gump' was filmed in Savannah, (Ga.), 20 years ago and people are still traveling there to sit on the bench the title character sat on in that movie."
The Bradenton Area Film Commission provided the "Highway to Sell" production company, Twelve02 Television, with assistance and sweat equity, he said.
"Producers and location managers are recognizing the diversity of our community," Falcione said. "How many other places can you find white, sandy beaches and wide-open farm land within 20 miles?"
Slick said he also recognized the power of seeing a location on television or the movies.
He has received several calls asking where the Norma Rae Restaurant is located, since there were several shots of him eating in the establishment on 10th Avenue West.
"I tried to get the production company to film as much of the local area as possible," Slick said.
The show also has brought other opportunities for the business, but Slick has put those and other previously planned events, such as the Friday Night Car Shows, on hold until he hears if "Highway to Sell" will be picked up for a second season.
"They said they are waiting for ratings to come in from the foreign countries," he said. "We should know by the middle of January."