Anyone who’s bought a new car knows how it feels to own something that’s almost perfect.
The interior has that “new car smell.” The exterior is spotless. Once the car is driven off the lot, though, life takes over. Washing and detailing provides a semblance of newness, but the object gradually becomes making the car, or bike, or chopper, look as good as possible.
However, for a certain kind of person, namely Adam Pitale, having something look “as good as new” has been a lifelong obsession. On weekends, people like Adam, and there are many, can be found in their driveways, washing and polishing their cars, removing the tiniest of scratches, and ensuring the wheels glisten like mirrors. Most of these car owners stop there since they have weekday jobs and can only devote the weekend to a good polish. But there are exceptions.
At age nine, Adam founded a bike cleaning business, after which he graduated to washing and waxing neighbors’ cars. He hired his first employee, a 16-year-old, when he was 12 and later, as a high school and college student, started a mobile detailing business focusing on limousine fleets. The progression from cleaning cars to developing car care products was a natural one for Adam. As soon as he had developed his own line, he began selling it at the Orange County Swap Meet. Adam was on his way but needed a big break.
The break came when his fledgling company, Adam’s Polishes, received a contract to detail Coca-Cola’s fleet of 3400 delivery trucks. Prior to hiring Adam, Coke addressed the fact its vehicles’ iconic red was prone to fading with a degreaser as well as periodically repainting them on an average of every three years. Once Adam came on board with his freshly developed array of Adam’s Polishes, the problem itself faded away. Coke was able to suspend its periodic repainting and so cut its color maintenance budget by 90%.
Rather than resting on his laurels, Adam used this new and mutually profitable arrangement with Coke as what he called “the perfect testing ground…‘We lived R&D all day, every day. We were permanently trying to make a better mousetrap — and we did.’ At the time, Adam’s Polishes was located in California and was growing rapidly. Its products had begun to make a name for themselves in the lucrative car detailing market, adamspolishes.com, and this eventually led Adam to rethink both the business and its location. Car detailing is a nationwide market, so there were potentially unlimited areas of expansion. As to location, Adam wanted to settle the business in a state where he could find local suppliers for his product and thus reduce his dependence on out-of-state pipelines. So in 2009, Adam took Adam’s Polishes, along with his new fiance, Melissa, to Colorado, where it is headquartered to this day.
Currently, Adam’s Polishes is one of the world’s premier car care companies and also the provider of choice for two American icons: the Corvette and the Chevy Camaro. It exports its products to Europe, Italy in particular, and its polishes can be found in over 150 new car dealerships. Its rapid expansion has encouraged outside investment and led to a huge internet presence, so huge that, at present, more than 2/3rds of its products are sold online. All this has seen the company enjoy a 60-plus percent growth each year since 2015. “In 2014, we had a strong year, says Adam. “In 2017, we were four times that. We’ve had hockey-stick growth for the last four years.”
The prevailing wisdom in advertising is that nothing kills a bad product quicker than good advertising. The converse is also true. Nothing promotes a good product quicker than good advertising and good word of mouth. The growth and expansion of Adam’s Polishes is testament to its quality, as Adam’s products presently enjoy a secure and ever-expanding place in the lucrative car detailing market. In keeping with Adam’s ethos of reaching into new areas, Adam’s company has forged alliances with such players as General Motors and is now even offering hand soaps, body washes, and, with Emeril Lagasse, kitchenware cleansers.
Vision and adventurousness and the ability to tolerate risk are all marks of industry disrupters. Adam has proven himself to be one of these. We congratulate him and remain very interested to see where he goes from here.
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