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A business designed to keep vehicles looking their best

Legal News Reporter

Published: June 12, 2012

For Ultragloss president Steve Marble, you might say starting a business designed to improve the appearance of automobiles is something he was destined to do.

“Even in my early childhood, I wanted my cars to look their best,” said Marble. “My Hot Wheels, which I still have today, were never played with in the dirt and were always kept clean and well cared for.”

The Akron native has come a long way since then. Today his company employs 17 people and has a fleet of 23 vans that provide services ranging from paint and glass chip repairs to dent removal and interior improvements to more than 200 commercial dealerships and individuals in northeast Ohio.

In fact, the Akron-based company has been so successful that Marble now has several franchise operations in Dayton, Ohio, and is looking to expand around the country.

Ultragloss has a retail facility that provides services to the public at 585 E. Tallmadge Ave. in Akron, and a training facility for new franchisees at 766 E. Glenwood Ave.

All this based on an idea that first came to him in 1992.

“I was working at a local dealership in Cuyahoga Falls doing detail work, and I would see this paint truck stop by and the guy would touch up the cars. I saw how much money he made, and it prompted me to take out a loan and go to school. I practiced what I learned at the dealership, until I got really good at it,” said Marble.

Once he mastered his skills, Marble bought a van, fitted it with custom rims and tires, came up with a white and blue logo and a concept, and started traveling to dealerships where he would do paint and bumper repairs.

“I always made it a point to keep my vehicle washed and looking good,” said Marble. “The exciting part of my history is that I used to race. I was part of a cycling team and the motto was to always look and do your best. I’ve really stuck to my guns about doing the same in the business.”

As the work picked up, Marble said he realized the true potential of what he was doing.

“A light bulb went off in my head, and I thought wouldn’t it be great to have ten other people doing what I’m doing. I subcontracted ten trucks, and the next thing I knew I had 20, and the business was huge.”

To help manage Ultragloss, Marble enlisted the help of his wife, Annette, who had an accounting degree.

“I handle the accounts receivable, and help Steve run the business,” said Annette, who joined Ultragloss in 2000. “Over the past 10 years, we have grown substantially, mostly due to word of mouth and attention to detail. We have done some advertising at the mall, and on Facebook, but for us the secret really is providing great customer service and forming long-lasting relationships with clients.”

To keep up with the needs of the auto industry, Marble said he has added several divisions, including one designed to spruce up the interior of vehicles by eliminating problems like cigarette burns, and providing services such as leather and vinyl repair, carpet dyes, decontamination and odor elimination.

"We also have a dent department that handles things like door dings, a glass division that handles small chip repairs and a window tinting division that handles window tint and protective film for the exterior of the customer vehicles,” said Marble. “All of these services are available under one roof to serve the public at our retail location.

“A lot of companies say they do it all, but they are not masters at what they do. All of our divisions are separate, and the workers specialize in their particular areas,” said Marble.

Unlike many businesses that were hurt by the downturn, Marble said he has actually seen an increase in customers.

“We are operating in an in-demand market. We provide mobile services to our customers, and we’re in a ‘win-win situation.’

“Because of the economy, dealerships want to make sure their cars are looking the best they can so they can sell them, and individual owners are often holding on to their vehicles longer so they are putting more money into refurbishing them. Both scenarios have worked to our advantage,” Marble said.

“Our goals for the future are to continue providing high-quality work and to keep moving forward by expanding through our franchises with hardworking, motivated individuals that want to help us take our proven system across the U.S.,” said Annette.