King of automotive wax wants to unite the world – Orange County Register


The human race, according to the king of automotive wax, is divided into two distinct cultures.

The guys in the car, which includes women. And people who aren’t car guys.

It can sound like self-promotion, especially if you’re not a car guy.

But if you’ve ever – once – felt a thrill on a road, if you’ve gotten all blurry inside the roar of an engine, or marveled at the beauty of a car in showroom condition brilliant, then there is hope.

You see, if Barry Meguiar is successful, the human race will become united on this very cool stuff about cars.

Is Meguiar crazy? You bet. And proud of it.

“Car Crazy” isn’t just the name of Meguiar’s 13-year-old cable TV show on Fox’s Speed ​​Channel, it’s etched on his black shirts and in the neon lights of his office where he remains managing director. and President of Meguiar’s Inc., a $ 100 million Irvine-based company that was founded in 1901 and was acquired by 3M in 2008.

But those aren’t the sort of numbers that interest a guy like Meguiar, who fell in love with the family business when he was young and growing up in Pasadena and spending his summers on Balboa Island. He bought his first car on his 16th birthday: a 1957 Chevrolet, which he still drives occasionally.

Meguiar is really in his element when it comes to cars – and car guys. You can tell by the sparkle in her eyes, the smile and the energy in her voice.

Just ask him about the custom 2010 Chevrolet Camaro in the garage just below his desk.

•••

If you’ve never heard of Meguiar’s, you’re not alone. I hadn’t done this until several years ago when I asked a friend how he kept his car like new.

“Meguiar’s. It’s the gold standard, ”he told me.

Millions of people around the world have discovered the same. Meguiar’s offers more than 700 products in 90 countries. They make everything from car washes and waxes to interior cleaning products. They offer specialty items for motorcycles, boats, and recreational vehicles. They are even at Wal-Mart, with 47 products on the shelves.

But it has not always been so.

The founder, Barry’s grandfather, Frank, started the business from his garage in Indiana by mixing his own brand of furniture polish with an egg beater. When the first cars arrived, their bodywork was made of wood. Lots of wood. The future was clear.

By 1913, Frank Meguiar Jr. had moved the business to Southern California. Did the founder predict that the region would embody automotive culture? Nobody knows.

For the first 63 years, the family focused on manufacturing professional products for automotive professionals, mostly bespoke. At that time, the company was selling approximately $ 600,000 in product per year and had 14 employees. Barry Meguiar served as a one-man accounting department while in college.

But after Meguiar graduated from what is now known as Point Loma Nazarene University in the mid-1960s, he began attending auto shows and found that auto paint professionals gave Meguiar’s to their customers to maintain the shine.

Why not offer Meguiar’s products directly to regular motorists?

•••

If ever there was a perfect fit for man and car wax, it was Barry Meguiar.

He proselytized the magic of Meguiar’s mirror finishes at hundreds and then thousands of auto shows across the country and around the world.

What started as an effort to increase sales has turned into a mission.

I asked Meguiar what is the secret ingredient that makes his cars shine.

“Passion,” he whispered. And he was only half kidding.

Meguiar went on the radio. He started the TV show “Car Crazy”. He created a website with forums and expert advice. He’s even built a classroom at his Irvine headquarters where clients can gain technical expertise for free. And it has sponsored thousands of auto shows – over 12,000 worldwide.

He proposed four steps to create his vision: awareness, identity, community and – the end result – advocacy (remember the friend who told me about the product?).

“The car guys are special. They are responsible, clean up after themselves, and have a strong work ethic.

“If there were more guys in the car, there would be less war.”

•••

After deciding that Ken Steinhardt, the Orange County Register photographer, was a full-fledged car guy, and I was halfway there, Meguiar agreed to take us for a ride in the custom Hennessey Camaro.

The Camaro – black, of course – packs a 6.2-liter V8 engine boosted to over 550 horsepower. Custom suspension allows the vehicle to virtually kiss the ground.

Meguiar was driving, one hand on the stick. Steinhardt took pictures in the front seat. I was tied in the back. We found an open stretch of asphalt, the kind of road where all you want in the world is a full tank of gas and a clean windshield.

There was a deep growl. We exploded to 60 miles an hour in just over four seconds. I bumped into the back of my seat. Suddenly I was blind.

I realized my eyes were closed.

And in front, there was only the wide open joy, the crazy joy of the car.

David Whiting’s column appears on the home page on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and in Outdoors on Tuesdays; [email protected]


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