Thaddeus Grage owns and operates the Tint World® location in Gulfport, Mississippi. A U.S. Army veteran with experience in the automotive aftermarket industry, Thaddeus chose to step into an existing Tint World® automotive styling franchise over buying a vehicle maintenance franchise. He sat down with us to share his story for this month’s franchisee spotlight.
Question: How did you become a Tint World® location owner?
Answer: I was a customer at Tint World® Gulfport, Mississippi, which had been open since 2016. I was looking for someone to do some detailing on my truck that I’d just gotten a new paint job on, and I saw from the website that there were franchises available. At the time, I was looking for an opportunity in car maintenance, but Tint World® seemed closer to my experience and interests. I put in for more information and talked with Donnie Saucier, the previous owner. Two days later, I came in to pick up my truck and Donnie said, “I don’t know where you want to be location-wise, but why don’t you buy this one?”
Q: What was your work experience before joining Tint World®?
A: I spent 11 years in the U.S. Army, first in field artillery and then in special forces. But while I was in the Army, I joined two friends who had started an aftermarket performance company. I took over the sales, vendor relationships and distribution and realized I was pretty good at it.
When I got out of the military, I moved to Mississippi. I was working in government contracting and later federal law enforcement when I heard some guys on a naval base talking about great deals they’d gotten on aftermarket products. I found out that it wasn’t a great deal. I started looking around the area and found out that there weren’t a whole lot of aftermarket opportunities down here, so of course the prices were gouged. We have a very large military community down here, and I didn’t like people taking advantage of them.
So, in March 2016 I started an aftermarket business on the side. In 2017, I got out of law enforcement and did the business full time. In 2018, I started looking into automotive franchising, and closed on the Tint World® Gulfport, Mississippi location in May 2019.
Q: What went into your decision-making process to become a Tint World® location owner?
A: I was already in the aftermarket industry with my previous company. What won me over were the conversations I had with Donnie and doing my own due diligence. I also went with my gut feeling. I’d talked to other franchises and didn’t get that same gut feeling that I was comfortable with it or would be successful with it. Buying an existing location would be turnkey, we could just transfer books. They had done well, and I could add the services I wanted to offer.
Q: Were there any people at Tint World® that particularly inspired you to join the franchise?
A: It wasn’t a person. I’m different on sales. I don’t buy the people. If I’m going to buy a product, I’m going to find the product that I want. In this case, an opportunity presented itself that made sense.
Q: Do you have a particular specialty or favorite Tint World® service?
A: My particular specialty is taking something that’s basic and making it completely custom. I just did a complete build-out on a 2006 Nissan Titan that came in bone stock, two-wheel drive. We put a six-inch lift on her, 35-inch tires, brand new wheels, brand new exhaust system, headlights, fog lights, the whole nine yards. I like going to a car and truck show, seeing something we’ve built and being able to say, “I took that from a bone stock vehicle and made it what it is right now.”
Q: What kind of car do you own currently?
A: I have a 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie. I custom-ordered the interior with everything I wanted and fully built it in my previous company. It has a full custom suspension, custom wheels and tires, fully built motor and a custom paint job.
I also have a new project car for the shop. We do work for a lot of federal agencies, so it’s a demo car and a tribute car. It’s a retired 2013 Chevrolet Caprice police pursuit vehicle. We’re adding lighting, sirens, completely outfitting it. It’s going to have a full custom tribute wrap based on public servants — military, fire, law enforcement, and all who have fallen.
Q: What is your favorite car that you don’t own?
A: When I was young, I always told myself that I wanted to buy a Lamborghini. I don’t even know which one. I’m a pretty basic guy. I just like to take basic things and turn them into not-basic things.
Q: What challenges have you faced as a Tint World® location owner?
A: Nothing too crazy. I’ve been blessed with a good crew. The only thing is that everything else I had done previously was just me. I never had to worry about payroll and things like that. Also, when I came in, it was in the middle of the busy season, so I’m just waiting to experience the slow season to know what to expect.
Q: What advice would you give a new Tint World® location owner?
A: I would say that you need some knowledge of the industry. If you don’t have it, get to know someone who does. Learn the business. You don’t have to know every single wheel manufacturer and every single tire, but you have to be able to talk the talk.
Q: Do you have plans for growth in the future?
A: I’ve got stuff in the works. Once this store is self-sustaining and growing, I want to buy another location. I’ll put a year into that, then build out another.
If you would like to learn more about Tint World® franchise opportunities, just download our franchise kit today.