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Craig Jones

How Buzzweld Started

4 posts in this topic

I had been fixing computers as a hardware engineer for the last 15 years, and during that time the industry had gone from what i felt was a skilled job, independence from management, on the job thinking, and minimal red tape.

My last 4 years saw my employer tupe us over following a buy out. We had a conference call, and the new "big boss" was bragging how he had done this around 80 times previously, and its just what happens...

Saw this coming for a while, so i started Buzzweld as a desperate "idea" and a fallback plan. Just to be clear the original idea was stupid. You can't just create a business because you no longer like your working conditions....

Buzzweld was going to be called "Metal Monkey"... Because the plan was to rebuild and repair defender bulkheads, get a CNC table and make our own parts etc, and see where it goes.

 

I came up with the Name Buzzweld, following far too many horrendous names. At the time, the name meant nothing. But then "tesco" "microsoft" and all the others mean very little except that they have built their own brand.

So, i ended up talking to some very good people about coatings. Through my father who is literally one of the most qualified corrosion experts going (he runs www.alkingtoncs.com having recently retired and started on his own).

Now. the automotive coatings market is interesting. You can get in to it two ways. 1. money, branding and promotion, or the other.. REALLLLLY long way. Slogging it out for day after day, month after month, and now years after year.

I looked at the market and there was HUGE gap. All of the automotive coatings were strictly limited by technology to not going direct to rust. Theres claim after claim it can be done, but theres literally nothing out there at the time that would do anything with corrosion. Moving on from that cavity waxes. Nobody had used VCI's. (vapour corrosion inhibitors).

I started to dig deeper, noting that my current job was now guided by "how to guides", masses of duplicate paperwork, micro management, and it just wasn't for me...

Ontop of that the market was full of Box shifters. There were some places youcould get advice, but it was limited to paid staff who didnt seem know or care too much. I didnt speak to all of them, i just looked around to know that there were literally MASSES of compoanies miss selling their coatings, over-selling, pressure selling, anything to shift product.

I set out with a few rules.

1. Never slag off a competitor in public no matter what they do.

2. Promote reputable competitors as a second opinion for customers. Many of you know i am more than happy to recommend a few select companies that actually look after their customers and develop and work on their own products. I will not entertain helping companies that are anti-competitive, or use their size to try and control smaller businesses. Paintman is a company i have alot of respect for, simply put they won't compromise on what they offer, and thats worth supporting.

3. Advice. This is the key bit. From the start 1:1 advice on anything from the questions your embarrassed to ask, to the very few that even i struggle with. Along with this a policy of NEVER making it up. if i don't know, i don't know, and i have found over the years [people respect that alot. Latley this has been a struggle hence the forum and a few other outlets for information.

So i started Buzzweld with £50. My first customer was Tom Davies in his 2WD Cummins 500+ BHP defender 100" hybrid. He travelled around 2.5 hours round trip to come and collect paint as at the time i couldn't ship.

 

From there we started adding top coats, testing them before offering them. making sure that coating works with another, or for any issues. We expanded our range to include some prep materials, all the while basically expanding to where we asked to supply the most often.

More recently that has been the Quora Colours, but being held back to Industrial colours, we are now expanding to full automotive colours.

Along the way we have always looked to do things differently. We don't limit our products to one or two safe application methods. We push the boat out and you can typically apply most of our coatings by

  • Brush (including seam sealing brush for the corrosion modifiers)
  • Roller
  • Neat spray (we use a heavy duty sand blasting gun to achieve this, and whilst the finish is "industrial" we remove the need for a third coat, yet you can still spray it!
  • thinned and sprayed. Everything from an LVLP gravity gun, to a fence sprayer, or air washing gun, we have helped people use these odd methods that just sometimes are the only way for people to get the job done.

All along we have looked at how to do things better and differently. Raptor being one.

We took on Raptor Bedliner even though it was in effect a competitor. Other companies had been box shifting it on for almost a year before we considered it, we had a few discussions with Upol and Britpart about how it fits with us etc, and we took it on.

Our first entry with Raptor was to break the rules. People were selling black, or tintable online. that was it. There wasn't a single website we could find where you could buy the lot in one go.

More to the point people were often making a right mess of it, using standard paints, wrong thinners, etc etc. So we tested a whole bunch of tinting systems, and we don't use a tinting system recommended by Raptor. We use our own, and as a result our Red's and yellows are better than a high end 2K base as a tint.

We then looked at application, and it annoyed us that we couldn't get raptor everywhere on a job. Such as getting the spray gun in to tighter areas etc. So we developed our own Bedliner aerosols to compliment Raptor jobs. They use the saem tint system, and the colkour match is spot on as we can make a batch of raptor and our bedliner aerosols from our SAME tint base, even batch.

We pushed the boat out again, because just like engines and tuning, coatings are a compromise. It doesn't matter who you buy from, or how much you pay its a compromise, just like buying a car. We are pre release on testing Resin+ for Raptor, which takes a tiny amount of the flexibility of raptor, and uses that margin as hardness for abrasive and impact resistance. Its brillaint, and yet again we have matched that in our bedliner aerosols, so you can buy both products from us, and know its going to be spot on.

W.A.R. is a product i developed in my garden shed. the wet wax category has had a good run. High margins, low to medium quality products, and people need to keep buying it. Its a sellers dream. So i took the good points, such as ease of application, rate of "success" when applying it, finish. I threw out the bits i didnt like...

  • wont do anything with rust
  • washes off
  • absorbs dirt and moisture
  • nightmare to work on after
  • needs rust sorting prior to application

So we ended up with Wheel Arch Refinement. Now it was originally designed to go up behind wheel arch plastic liners on things like Freelanders and Discoveries, range rover classics where the front inner arch dies quickly. We made the product, it was a pain in the ass to make, and expensive as well. But then the big moment. That was when i came to taking it off of my sheet of steel i was using for testing. I got the pressure washer out, a rather good one to boot.

It simply wouldn't touch W.A.R. So we had a shockingly good product (after all its a wax/ coating hybrid, so it shouldn't stand up to a pressure washer), that was not limited to non abrasive areas. So we wanted to see how far it would go. So we sent it out in aerosols, and had it put in the arches of a Ultra 4 challenge truck. 

Two pack poly's, aircraft grade etch primers the lot all can and do fail in this environment on a race by race basis. So we pictures a bare inner arch on return as the result... but that didnt happen. W.,A.R went to toe to toe with glass re enforced coatings present elsewhere on the vehicle, and to this day Titan Offroad who we still proudly sponsor won't use anythign else in those areas, and we may expand where its used.

This lead to the inevitable question... Can you do W.A.R. a tough, touch dry hybrid underseal wax in colours.... well, yes, we figured that out as well.

 

All of this has been an incredible journey. Its had me in tears like a lost kid, its had me as high as i thought i could go, angry, happy the lot. The best way i can describe it to someone who hasn't ever ran their own business is that it can be an abusive relationship, a rewarding relationship, infact any kind of relationship, because its always in the back of your mind.

Ffrom £50 3.5 years ago, We now support around 100 social media groups at all hours of the day and night, we develop our own products, we do shows, we do our own testing, we improve other peoples products, and we do our best to look after our customers. I now work for Buzzweld Full time, and its something i plan to do for a very long time

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