Maaco at 50: 'Better than Ever'

Nov. 22, 2022

The 2022 Maaco Convention in California was a celebration of 50 years in business and an optimistic look toward the future.

CARLSBAD, Calif.(Nov. 22, 2022)—Just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, basking under San Diego sunshine in mid-November, it was hard for any franchisee attending the 2022 Maaco Convention to disagree with the event's theme of, "Better. Than. Ever." Attendees and the Maaco leadership team alike also pointed to a future that looks so bright, you've got to wear shades.

But in the midst of looking toward that bright future Maaco also wanted to honor the past at its first in-person convention in three years. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and there were retro touches everywhere at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in suburban Carlsbad. There were old-school Maaco logos, commercials and jingles, a 70s-themed vendor show and a 1972 Camaro restored by a Maaco shop in Rock Hill, South Carolina, that was later raffled off to lucky Maaco franchisee Mike Phillips. The nods to the past began early as on the first full day of the conference Wednesday Mark Martino, son of late Maaco founder Tony Martino.

"I of course recognize the dramatic changes in our operating systems since the 1970s," said Martino. "But a hallmark feature of Maaco is that we are always adapting, always preparing and always learning from each other. And I'm happy to see this tradition continue."

Martino then presented the award named in honor of his father, the Tony Martino Hall of Fame Award. The coveted award for success within the Maaco family went to Jay Patel, owner of 11 stores in four states. 

"I am so grateful for this honor, and I give all the credit to Tony Martino,” said Patel. “He taught me so much that I have applied to my business to be successful. The most important thing was taking care of the customer. His saying was, 'Paint a car, make a friend,’ and my goal and my team’s philosophy is to treat them like family, and the goal is always to make a customer for life, whatever it takes."

While Martino's legacy was a central focus of the four days in Carlsbad, where many of the owners of the company's 400 franchise locations were able to attend, Maaco also kept the focus on the recent history and the future. In a roundtable discussion with media, the Maaco executive leadership team expressed an appreciation for the past while also wanting to continue to innovate in how cars are repaired and how their employees and franchisees are cared for.

"Our plan is to absolutely grow," said SVP of Strategy and Franchise Administration Chris Porcelli. "This business has been around for 50 years because we have the ability to pivot, we've seen every type of recession challenge, whatever it is. And we've overcome that, because we have the ability to pivot that way."

Some of the ways Maaco is helping set up franchisees for success is through the use of data, said COO Darryl Hurst. Hurst pointed to the data that Maaco has access to as a part of Driven Brands, meaning the company has access to billions more data points than it would if it only had access to the data of Maaco customers. That data helps inform KPIs and identify possible problems before they happen. SVP of Marketing Hannah Whitesides highlighted employee-focused initiatives such as recognizing a shop-level employee of the week, employee giveaways and marketing initiatives that show the working human side of Maaco.

"The theme of the convention this year is better than ever, kind of leaning into our, "Uh oh, better get Maaco," tagline and always talking about striving to be better," said Whitesides. "And this year, we really feel like we've done some great things to set us up for success and looking back the last 50, but also in what's to come in the next."

The rest of the leadership team all took the stage Wednesday to give relevant updates on the company, such as Porcelli highlighting the growing market of fleet work and Paint and Collision President highlighting milestones such as a record sales year and surpassing the 20-million car mark. Attendees also got to hear an energetic keynote address from Collision Advice's Mike Anderson, who encouraged attendees to take an employee-centric approach to grow their businesses. A similar topic was one among the breakout speaker sessions presented Wednesday afternoon.

Other activities for attendees included a charity golf tournament that helped raise $40,000 for the Maaco Charitable Fund. Those who didn't participate in golf had their choice of fall activities like pumpkin painting, and also packing grocery donations for local military families. The conference closed out Friday night with an awards gala in which these top-performing franchisees were honored:

  • Maaco Cup Award (for high sales achievement and also in overall excellence): Steve and Angela Locke, Maaco Marietta, Georgia
  • MSO of the Year: Phil Collins, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia
  • Rookie of the Year – Resale: Israel Muriel, Maaco Lauderhill, Florida
  • Rookie of the Year – New Unit: Dave Martin, Maaco Tyler, Texas
  • Terry Taylor Award (for an owner who exhibits selfless qualities): Peter Flannigan, Maaco Airdrie, Alberta
  • Top Sales Growth: Michael Vahdat, Maaco East Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Top Sales and Car Count: Ron Raio, Maaco Delran, New Jersey

The organization also presented awards to top-performing shops in each region for achievements in car count, sales and overall excellent operations:

  • The Mirante Family, Maaco Edmonton, AB
  • David and Marie Hamilton, Maaco Sunnyvale, CA
  • Kurt Seifert Jr., Maaco Ferndale, MI
  • The Wilks Family, Maaco Gainesville, FL
  • Rob Taylor, Maaco Lancaster, PA

Honoring franchisees past and present was a key focus of the convention, as Hurst summarized in his remarks Wednesday.

"it takes a really solid business model, a group of passionate entrepreneurs and the ability to provide service that resonates so well with our customers to thrive for 50 years," said Hurst. "And that's what you've done. Without your efforts. Maaco would not be the powerhouse it is today. So whether you've been here for one year, or 50 years, your daily passion and dedication have led to this remarkable moment, making Maaco better than ever."

About the Author

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is former editor of FenderBender magazine.

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