CoaterZ, a six-bay automotive shop in Palm Harbor that specializes in the application of paint protection products on mostly high-end vehicles, is humming. Corey Eberhardt, 40, is out in the shop overseeing a number of ceramic coating and paint protection film installations. His wife Piper, 45, is in the office, fielding phone calls and scheduling new jobs.
It would seem to be just another busy day at a successful local business. But the path that got the Eberhardts to this point was anything but predictable. Or easy.
“We both had spent most of our adult lives working for others,” Corey said. “We were living day-to-day and paycheck-to-paycheck. I had dreamed about having my own auto-related business, but it hadn’t happened, and as I got close to 40 I didn’t think it ever would.”
At one point in his past, Corey was trained in the application of automotive ceramic coatings – a polymer solution that bonds to a car or truck’s paint and protects it from ultraviolet rays and oxidation.
“I’d dream about that shop,” Corey said. “I’d think about the cars and trucks that people would bring to me, and I’d dream about other products and services that we could provide. I knew the name of the shop almost from the beginning – CoaterZ.”
Other than the name, Corey had little in the way of assets that could lead to the establishment of a new business. He had no money, no car, no tools and no driver’s license – it had been suspended when he got behind on his child support payments.
In spite of all that, he found a single-bay garage in a run-down row of commercial spaces. It didn’t offer much, but it did have two advantages; it was close to where he was living so he could walk to work, and the rent was affordable – just $100 a month.
“I had to borrow that $100, plus some more money for tools,” he said. With those humble beginnings in place, CoaterZ was born. The first month was tough. In the first year of operation, CoaterZ grossed just $45,000, barely enough to cover rent, equipment, supplies, and sometimes a small paycheck. Even so, before that first year was over, Corey was looking for a bigger location. He found it about two miles away, just over the line in Palm Harbor. The new shop had six bays, an actual office, and some the original one-bay shop didn’t have – a bathroom.
“The other thing it had was a big rent number,” he said. The old shop cost me $100 per month. The new shop was more than 10 times that. But I knew if we were going to survive and grow, we would need a good facility on a main highway where potential customers could see us. And we were going to need room for employees.”
He was right about the visibility provided by the new shop’s location on Alt. 19. Several thousand cars drove by every day. Some of those drivers would see the exotic cars in the CoaterZ lot and drive in to see what was going on in the space that previously had served as a used car lot.
With $45,000 in sales in the first year at the old shop, gross sales grew to around $500,000 in the second year. The year after that, sales topped $1 million. Owners of high-dollar exotic cars and $150,000 pickup trucks began to take notice, and CoaterZ reputation for quality work spread.
“We use the best products, we hire the best people we can find, and we don’t cut corners,” Corey said. “We stand behind everything we do. If a customer is dissatisfied, we’ll fix it or do it over and do whatever we have to do to make it right. That has paid off – right now we have around 300 five-star reviews on Google. And one clinker, from a customer that we just couldn’t please no matter what we did.”
For ceramic coatings, CoaterZ uses Feynlab products, a leader in the automotive ceramics industry and the supplier that Corey believes is the best. In just the second year of CoaterZ’ operation, the shop became Feynlab’s biggest applier of ceramics in the country.
Both Corey and Piper have worked hard to make CoaterZ a success. Corey oversees everything, directs the crew of six people, and is usually up to his elbows in one project or another. Piper works the phones, contacts existing customers about new projects, answers calls and manages the work schedule.
The next step that Corey and Piper foresee is a big one – franchising the CoaterZ business.
“We’re going to offer individual franchises as well as territories and provide the roadmap that franchisees can follow to emulate our success,” Corey said. “We’re going to concentrate on Florida, and once we get that going, we’re going to offer franchises throughout the South and then, later, nationwide.
“There’s a lot of people out there like me who love cars and trucks and want to find a good pathway to financial success,” he said. “We want to help those people find their destiny.”
So, exactly what are the services that CoaterZ provides? The two primary ones have the same aim – protecting auto and truck finishes and keeping those vehicles looking better than new.
Two popular options for achieving this goal are ceramic coating and paint protection film (PPF). While both options offer protection against scratches and damage, they differ in their application, durability, and overall effectiveness.
What is Ceramic Coating?
Ceramic coating is a liquid polymer that is applied to a car’s exterior to provide a protective layer that repels water and environmental contaminants. It is a clear coat that is designed to bond with the car’s paint to create a hydrophobic barrier that helps prevent damage from UV rays, bird droppings, tree sap, and other substances that can harm the car’s finish.
Ceramic coatings are often applied by professional detailers, and the process typically involves several steps. Once the coating has been applied, it takes several hours to fully cure, and the car should not be exposed to water or contaminants during that time. Ceramic coatings can last up to five years and beyond, depending on the quality of the product and how well the car is maintained.
What is Paint Protection Film?
PPF, also known as clear bra, is a thin, clear film that is applied to a car’s exterior to provide protection against scratches, rock chips, and other damage. The film is typically made from a clear thermoplastic urethane material that is cut to fit the contours of the car’s exterior is often applied by professional installers, and the process typically involves using a computerized cutting machine to cut the film to fit the car’s specific make and model. Once the film has been applied, it is nearly invisible and provides a protective barrier that can last up to 10 years, depending on the quality of the product and how well the car is maintained.
Differences between Ceramic Coating and PPF
One of the main differences between ceramic coating and PPF is the application process. Ceramic coating is applied as a liquid, typically by professional detailers. It can take several hours to apply, and the car must not be exposed to water or contaminants during the curing process. PPF, on the other hand, is a film that is applied to the car’s exterior in a process that typically takes several hours. The film is cut to fit the specific make and model of the car, and it can be applied to any part of the car’s exterior, including the hood, fenders, and doors.
Another key difference between ceramic coating and PPF is durability. Ceramic coatings can last up to five years or even longer, depending on the quality of the product and how well the car is maintained. PPF, on the other hand, can last up to 10 years, making it a more long-term solution for protecting a car’s exterior. Both options require regular maintenance, including washing and waxing??, to maintain their effectiveness.
While both ceramic coating and PPF provide protection against scratches and damage, they differ in their overall effectiveness. Ceramic coating is designed to repel water and environmental contaminants, while PPF provides a physical barrier that can protect against rock chips and other damage. While both options are effective in their own ways, PPF is generally considered to be a more comprehensive solution for protecting a car’s exterior.
For car owners who want the benefits of both ceramic coating and PPF, some professional installers offer a hybrid option. This involves applying PPF to the front of the car, where it is most vulnerable to damage from rocks and debris, and ceramic coating to the rest of the car’s exterior.
Application of Ceramic Coating a Vehicle
The application of ceramic coatings on a vehicle is a delicate and time-consuming process that requires professional expertise. A trained technician handles the job, ensuring that the vehicle is prepped and cleaned before the coating is applied.
The first step is to clean the vehicle thoroughly. This is essential to remove any debris, dirt, and grime from the surface of the car. If the vehicle has any visible scratches or imperfections, the technician will polish and correct them before applying the ceramic coating.
Once the vehicle is cleaned and polished, the technician will use an isopropyl alcohol solution to wipe down the surface of the car. This ensures that the surface is free from any residues or contaminants that could interfere with the bonding of the ceramic coating.
Next, the ceramic coating is carefully applied using a small applicator. The technician will work in small sections, ensuring that the coating is applied evenly and without any streaks or bubbles. It’s essential to avoid over-application of the coating, as this can lead to unevenness and imperfections in the finish.
After applying the coating, the technician will allow it to cure for a specific period, depending on the brand and type of coating used. This can take anywhere from several hours to a few days, and the vehicle must be kept in a controlled environment during this time to avoid any exposure to dust, dirt, or contaminants.
Once the coating has cured, the technician will perform a final inspection to ensure that the finish is even, smooth, and free of imperfections. The vehicle is then ready for use, with a high-gloss, durable ceramic coating that protects against environmental damage, UV rays, and other hazards.
The installation of ceramic coating on a vehicle requires a thorough and meticulous process to ensure a flawless finish. From cleaning and polishing to careful application and curing, a professional technician must have the expertise and experience to deliver a high-quality result.
Benefits of Ceramic Coating
Ceramic coating offers several benefits for vehicle owners:
- Protection: Ceramic coating creates a durable layer of protection on your vehicle’s paint that can withstand harsh weather conditions, UV rays, and environmental contaminants like dirt, dust, and bird droppings. This layer helps to prevent scratches, fading, and other types of damage to the paintwork.
- Easy Maintenance: Ceramic coating makes your vehicle easier to clean and maintain. The smooth surface of the coating prevents dirt and grime from sticking to the paint, and any contaminants that do get on the surface can be easily wiped away without damaging the underlying paint.
- Glossy Appearance: Ceramic coating enhances the appearance of your vehicle by giving it a glossy, reflective finish. The coating can also enhance the depth and clarity of the paint, making it look vibrant and rich.
- Long-Lasting: A professionally installed ceramic coating can last for several years, depending on the quality of the coating and the care given to the vehicle. This means you won’t need to apply a new coating as frequently as you would with wax or other types of paint protection.
- Resale Value: Ceramic coating can help to preserve the value of your vehicle by protecting the paintwork and keeping it in good condition. This can be especially beneficial if you plan to sell your vehicle in the future, as a well-maintained vehicle with a ceramic coating can command a higher resale price.
Overall, ceramic coating provides an effective and long-lasting way to protect and enhance the appearance of your vehicle, while also making it easier to clean and maintain.
Installation Process of Paint Protection Film
The installation process of paint protection film (PPF) by a professional shop like CoaterZ generally involves the following steps:
- Cleaning: The installer will thoroughly clean the vehicle’s exterior to remove any dirt, debris, or wax residue that could interfere with the PPF’s adhesion.
- Surface preparation: The installer will use a clay bar or a special cleaner to remove any remaining contaminants and oils from the vehicle’s paint. This ensures a completely clean surface for the PPF to adhere to.
- Trimming: The installer will use a computerized cutting system or manually cut the PPF sheets to fit the contours of each panel of the vehicle.
- Application: The installer will apply the PPF to each panel, using a squeegee to ensure a tight bond and smooth finish.
- Heat molding: The installer will use a heat gun to mold the PPF to the contours of the vehicle’s panels, ensuring a perfect fit and a seamless finish.
- Finishing touches: The installer will carefully trim any excess film and clean up the edges, ensuring a clean and polished final product.
Overall, the installation process for PPF is similar to that of ceramic coating in that it requires thorough cleaning and surface preparation. However, PPF installation involves the additional steps of trimming, heat molding, and finishing touches to ensure a perfect fit and seamless finish.
Hybrid Option for Paint Protection with Ceramic & PPF by CoaterZ
CoaterZ offers a unique hybrid solution that combines the benefits of both paint protection film (PPF) and ceramic coating. This solution is ideal for those who want to protect the high-impact areas of their vehicle, such as the hood, front bumper, mirrors, and fenders, while also providing overall protection and enhanced appearance.
The installation process for this hybrid solution typically involves two main steps: applying the PPF and then applying the ceramic coating. Here’s a closer look at each step:
Applying the PPF:
- First, a trained CoaterZ technician at CoaterZ will clean and prepare the surfaces of the vehicle that will be covered with PPF. They will then use specialized software and equipment to precisely cut the PPF to fit the specific curves and contours of the vehicle. Once the PPF has been cut and prepared, the technician will apply it to the target areas using a specialized squeegee and heat gun to ensure a tight, smooth fit. The technician will also use a computerized system to ensure the PPF is free of any bubbles or imperfections. The process is typically completed within a few hours, depending on the complexity of the installation.
Applying the ceramic coating:
- After the PPF has been applied, the technician will clean and polish the entire vehicle to remove any dirt or contaminants. They will then apply the ceramic coating using specialized tools and techniques. The ceramic coating will bond with the PPF to provide an additional layer of protection and enhanced gloss. This process typically takes a few hours to complete, and the vehicle must remain in the shop for a certain amount of time to allow the coating to fully cure.
The result of this hybrid solution is a vehicle that is protected against rock chips, scratches, and other types of damage, as well as enhanced gloss and overall appearance. Additionally, the ceramic coating provides additional protection against environmental factors such as UV rays, acid rain, and bird droppings. This combination of PPF and ceramic coating provides a comprehensive solution for those looking to protect their vehicle while also enhancing its appearance.
Professional paint protection is an essential step for discerning car and truck owners in today’s high-traffic and environmentally challenging world. And the best choice for paint protection, through either ceramics or paint protection film, is CoaterZ.