From Father to Son: Passing Down the Franchise Torch
Color Glo International is a third generation, family owned business that is a world leader in restoration and repair of leather, vinyl, velour, cloth and hard plastics.
In his nearly 40 years with Color Glo, President Gary E. Smith, has been blessed to see a small idea created by his father, Everett C. Smith, grow into a global opportunity and very successful brand. Recently, Smith sat down with us to discuss why he decided to get into the family business, what life is like for Color Glo franchisees and why he thinks the sky is the limit for this franchise.
What’s special about the Color Glo franchise?
While every franchise is unique, we like to think ours is particularly special. Why? There are several reasons, which may not be obvious to the person looking for a business with a list of needs in mind. Of course, like most franchises, you are your own boss, but what differs with Color Glo versus many other franchises is that you can choose your own hours, determine how often or how little you would like to work and just how successful you want to be in this business.
Color Glo is a third generation, family owned business. We have been franchising for over 40 years and love what we do. Our franchisees are more than our partners, they are our family.
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What is the idea behind the franchise?
Color Glo International is a world leader in restoration and repair of leather, vinyl, velour, cloth and hard plastics commonly found in hundreds of markets, including automotive, aircraft, marine and furniture. Formally incorporated in 1975, Color Glo began franchising in 1982 in the United States and has since expanded into Canada and over 42 countries worldwide.
Color Glo products are proven every day to offer the correct results and best value every time they are put to the test. Our focus is restoring and repairing common defects such as worn and faded interior components such as leather upholstery, headliners, burns and broken plastic or composite molding. These problems are found in the interior of every automobile, RV, truck sports vehicle, plane or boat in use today. Additionally, we specialize in the repair and restoration of leather, vinyl or cloth furniture, both residential and commercial.
How does it compare to its competition?
Color Glo stands out from our competition and exceeds our customers’ expectations not only from our courteous and professional standards but also because we have the finest products and processes in our industry. Color Glo International offers a complete line of environmentally friendly cleaning and restoration products like water-based cleaners, deodorizers and conditioners. Our line of chemicals incorporates allergy-free dyes and water-based proprietary ingredients. Our environmentally friendly products get the job done just as well or better than standard chemicals while lessening environmental impact.
What do you look for in a potential franchisee?
We have franchisees from every walk of life.
- From the white-collared business person who wants to get out of the 50+ hours a week and simply enjoy life, working at his or her own pace and still have the time to spend with family, friends and truly have the time he or she deserves.
- Color Glo is so versatile, even the newly graduated high school or college student can succeed in this business.
- Maybe your son or daughter is not certain what path they want to follow – this is where Color Glo comes in. We have franchisees who invest in the franchise for their son or daughter and watch the business grow, while at the same time seeing their son or daughter learn many of life’s most valuable lessons.
- Several of our franchisees are even married couples who decided that punching the time clock, working separate jobs, or having one working more than what is considered full time with the other at home was not for them. Our franchise provides them and their family an income that far surpassed their expectations allowing them to not only work together, but to have the time to spend with their family.
- Another good candidate is someone who is not quite ready to retire, but does not want to work full time. Because Color Glo allows for so much variety, you really can decide where you want to work, what jobs you want to take and how often you want to work.
- We have franchisees start independently and grow to where they are adding additional technicians. This enables them to grow into other areas of the business, allowing them to significantly increase their bottom line. Most franchisees are able to repay the money they borrow within the first two to three years of doing business.
Where do you see the franchise in five years?
I am excited when I think of the future and all that it has to offer to our franchise family. In my nearly 40 years with Color Glo, I have been blessed to see a small idea created by my father, Everett C. Smith grown in to a global opportunity and very successful brand. Because Color Glo allows its franchisees the freedom to choose and work as many or as few services that we offer, the sky truly is the limit.
Can you describe a typical day in the life of a franchisee?
A typical day can vary for a franchisee. Because Color Glo offers so many services from residential, commercial, aircraft, marine and more, the possibilities are endless as to how busy you choose to be. Most of our franchisees schedule to work various dealerships two days a week, service warranty claims in customers’ homes one day a week, service customers’ calls from their website and corporate scheduled appointments in their local territory one to two days a week in-between calls. The majority of our franchisees are based out of their homes and completely mobile. This alleviates any expense and upkeep of a freestanding building or office and allows for a tremendous amount of flexibility when determining your daily/weekly schedule.
What’s your background?
I attended the University of Minnesota and studied business. After graduating, I had a decision to make – to begin working with my father in what I considered to be a very promising business and opportunity for me to really thrive while developing Color Glo, or to try my luck doing something else that maybe was less rewarding. The choice was clear. I started to work with my father and not long after, brother, Scott Smith, and in eight months it will be my 40th anniversary and every day it just keeps getting better and better!
What motivates you to keep going?
My loving and supportive wife and our five wonderful children and four grandchildren are every reason for me to get up and feel grateful every day. And if that wasn’t enough, I am blessed with an amazing and inspiring franchisee family.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Not a thing. I wake and feel blessed and grateful every day. There is simply no room for regret.
Please tell us your secret to success…
Attitude. Anyone can fall but it takes a brave person to stand again. The amount of gratitude you receive by owning your actions, learning from them and creating something so much bigger than even you is pretty incredible. I feel if you can positively impact others every day then my job is complete, but if in doing so they can pass on the positive vibes and help others to thrive, well that right there is simply a bonus!
What is the worst job you have ever had and what did you learn from it?
You know I haven’t really had a worst job. Sure there are occasions I will step into the lab and our chemist is in the process of developing new products to remove some pretty intense stains or odors, those days may not be my favorite, but wow when something is created and the results are extraordinary, the job doesn’t seem so bad after all!
What is one thing that really excites you?
Seeing others succeed and create a life for themselves and their families that allows them to spend the time that we all need and deserve.
Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My father had this quote printed on stickers many years ago. He used to pass them out to our new franchisees and it still resonates with me every day. “A man can fail many times but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame someone else” – Author Unknown
Where can people find out more about Color Glo International?
Visit the website here.
Where can people find Color Glo on social media?