We were lucky to catch up with Drew Babb and Jonathan Maas recently and have shared our conversation below.
Drew and Jonathan, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. To kick things off, we’d love to hear about things you or your brand do that diverge from the industry standard
Yes. Our goal is to achieve the best results possible. We are more thorough and careful in our prep work. We use an aluminum and steel safe chemical stripper to remove powder coatings and paint before sandblasting so we only blast for a final clean and profile. Some shops will use aggressive acids or blasting media to remove coatings quickly but that can damage the part. In an industry where our competition’s goal is to get as much work as they can and complete it as quickly as possible, we focus on following a process that is proven to provide the best results.
Drew , love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Jonathan Maas earned his Automotive Service Technician certification in 2007. I graduated from UT Dallas in 2012. When we started our business in 2015, we used his U-Haul storage unit, Unit F14, as our store front and to store vehicles for drop-off service. We would remove wheels and brakes from cars and motorcycles and take them to our home garage to powder coat them. We saved and reinvested in equipment, a better store front and took five years to move to the shop we have now. We found a niche in wheels and brake calipers because – compared to the local wheel repair companies – our durability and quality was better at a similar price point. In the early days, we had a lot of time for trial and error but ultimately having a technician as our powder coater gave us a advantage when it comes to automotive parts. Today we coat a wide range of parts from commercial lighting and electrical enclosures, bicycles, motorcycle parts, tables and more.
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
I bought a motorcycle and inevitably caught a nail in my tire. I posted on a local Facebook group for motorcycles and Jon responded that he could help – only to find out he lived in my neighborhood. We quickly became friends, along with his brother Matthew who now works with us as well. We’ve since hired a mutual long-term friend and my girlfriend. We are very much a family business and everyone brings a special talent to the table.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
We started with $500 and a double household oven. We built a new shell for the oven, made a few trips to Harbor Freight and we were in business. With our equipment, we would take an entire day to complete what would now be a quick project, but it gave us a place to start and learn.
We saved every bit we could while only paying ourselves what we needed to get by. We eventually upgraded compressors, sandblasters, powder-coating guns and our oven which made everything more efficient. However, we still had to move between multiple locations to get most jobs done. We had the storage unit, a tire machine at my dad’s house, Jon’s garage with all the powder-coating equipment.
After another shop opened nearby, we were hyper focused on growing and found a small storefront we could run parts to and from and deal with customers. The other shop ended up getting out of powder coating and we were able to purchase their new equipment at a fantastic price.
We broke down a huge chemical strip tank, a powder-coating oven and booth and moved it into another storage unit. Now we had to find a new shop. We were looking every day until we found a shop that was a little too big with too much office and not the best layout. We decided it was a good opportunity and went to talk to the would-be neighbors (Plano Diesel) about possibly working together. We then learned they were looking to get out of their lease. The layout, the ratio of offices, the location and everything was perfect.
- Website: www.unitf14.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/unitf14
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/theunit14
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drewbbabb/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/unitf14
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/unit-f14-powder-coating-plano-3