Shield your House with Rhino Shield (2023)

Hi All –

I am the owner of Liquid Ceramic International, Inc. In June, 2000, I became involved with the “permanent coating industry” and promised I’d wear the “white hat” in this business. At that time, I was already hearing about the mud-slinging that was going on in this industry. So I certainly didn’t want to jump into the middle of it. I signed an marketing agreement with a company that I believed would allow me to build a good and solid business centered around our flagship product, Liquid Ceramic Exterior Wall Coating. We originally did about a hundred homes in our area (Charlotte, NC) to gain some experience with the product, then 9/11 hit. Buyers were shy about investing the amount of money we normally charged. The economic climate was much like it is today – – people want to hold onto their money. So at that point, we got out of the business of applying this product and went into the business of signing other entrepreneurs as dealer-applicators of our product. In no time flat, we had a couple of dozen dealers throughout the country.

As much as times have changed, things have remained the same. The same mud-slinging goes on locally between our dealers and their local competitors. Things that we create, write and post on our website shows-up all of a sudden on the competitor’s websites as if they’re a “me too” product.

This industry is filled with entrepreneur companies that eventually find themselves in a corner. It’s costly to run advertising. I’ve been there. And it’s scary when dollars invested don’t pay off. They put up their life savings promoting their new “lifetime” product where the consumer is charged an arm-and-a-leg and if someone doesn’t get the amount of business they think they should be getting or out of fear believe they’re being attacked by the competition, then the counter-attacks and mud-slinging begins.

There’s a book called “Blue Ocean Strategy” that describes the red and bloody waters that most businesses compete in. Liquid Ceramic chose not to compete in the red waters but the blue waters. Years ago, after seeing the potential of being drug under with all the alligators, we decided to take a different path.

First, we found many of our dealers had “grass is greener on the other side syndrome.” When three hurricanes came through Florida back in ’06, we lost three dealers because they wanted to be in the roofing business where they could make much more money. Some dealers, we find out, wanted to “pop some customers a big dollar amount and an unbelievable warranty” and get out, leaving us holding the bag.

Second, we keep in good graces and exclusivity with our manufacturer because we want what they want: volume sales. It’s nice that we provide some folks who “live and breathe” our product but we’re not in the business of representing to entrepreneurs that we can make them rich overnight. If a painter wants to buy our product and provide a lifetime warranty to a homeowner, we just hope that it’s represented correctly and that the homeowner read his warranty before the do the deal.

Here’s my take on things: any dealer can go under at any time. And that could possibly leave some homeowners upset. The inside joke in the industry when someone promises a “lifetime warranty” is “the lifetime of who and what?” If any homeowner believes everything they’re told, well, I wonder how they ever became homeowners.

Last week, I was contacted by a very senior, senior citizen who had already signed a $27,000 contract for one of these ocmpanies to come out and paint her house. She had to have been 75 years or older, giving her a “lifetime warranty.” As in many comments I’ve read, nothing was given to her in writing in terms of a warranty, just a promise of a warranty after the job was completed. After nearly an hour on the phone, there was nothing I could do to help her except advise her to see her attorney.

So, are you working for someone else and thinking, “hmmm, I could do this on my own…” let me tell you how easy it is to become “one of them” in no time flat. Here’s how this little industry of ours works:

a) contact a paint company (just google “paint manufacturers”) and asks “can you make a paint product for me and put my own private label it?” (answer: yes and anyone with a few thousand bucks can do this. In fact, Nationwide Coatings advertised in national paint magazines looking for customers they can private label for. But my guess is that any paint manufacturer, in this economy, will do the same, if you have a volume commitment. And, by the way, be sure to have them throw in some 3M ceramic microspheres just because you need some sizzle with that steak!)

b) the product arrives in your newly-rented mini-warehouse (a/k/a “home office”) with your label on it, perma-something, rhino-this, giraffe-that, monkey-see-monkey-do, etc., whatever name you want to put on it. The tougher-sounding the name, the “better” the product, right? Can’t wait for Ram-Coat, Trojan-Coat or Hillary-Coat to hit the scene sometime soon!

c) run some ads on TV, radio, newspaper, internet. Hire a good website company to make you look good. Make some promises and certainly state how long you’ve been in business. If you’re a relatively new start-up, then think about how you can make it LOOK like you’ve been around for a while. (Hey, 3M and BASF have been around for a while, let’s keep throwing-out their name!) We even saw one company list 3M as one of their “partners.” Wow, think of that. You can start your own company and 3M will actually “partner” with you!

d) continue to make-up stuff. Whatever you make-up at your “home office” is what your dealers and their “independent sales reps” will run with. You say the fish is a foot long, they’ll say two feet. Go for it. (That’s what got the Kryton/Procraft/LiquidVinyl/LiquidSiding/Multi-Guard R20 (same organization) folks in deep doo-doo with the FTC back in 2003/04. Just google “liquid siding” and FTC for some fun reading.) And if things don’t work out, take off like a herd of rhinos and start another company. Isn’t America great!

e) promise high profits for anyone who wants to become a dealer. If the product fails, just tell the dealer to deal with it because you’ll make a killing on the next job and therefore you’ll never want to get out of this business. And as long as there are gullible consumers, America is stil great!

f) don’t allow the consumer to buy the product. Why? No reason, except that no one will make a ton of money. But you’ve got to have a reason to give to the consumers. So let’s go with this story (hey, it worked with your predecesor company, and it will work with your new company as well): Tell them, well, these NASA scientists spent all-night developing this secret formula and our “factory trained” applicator-engineers who’re given special equipment are the only ones who can properly apply it. Plus, we’ll guarantee it for someone’s/something’s “lifetime.” Yeah, that works. Let’s go with that! They swallowed it before, they’ll swallow it again. Watch!

Pretty sick, isn’t it. Makes those folks selling “store-bought” paint look pretty good after all. Or does it? I was in Lowe’s the other day. Their “American Traditions” paint, made by Valspar, give you a lifetime warranty as well. And who could doubt a big-box store? Unfortunately, they made the fine print a little too large and it was discovered that if for any reason you’re not pleased with their product on your house, you’re to bring back the empty paint cans (that have been stored in your garage for years, right?) along with the (now-faded) cash register receipt for a full refund or exchange with comparable product. So who keeps empty paint cans around? What value is this warranty?

That’s my perspective on this industry. I’m not bashing individual, honest entrepreneurs who want to make an honest living. But when Mrs. Jones needs her house painted and you have a hungry sales rep who’s trying to get caught-up on his mortgage, gosh-dang, it’s difficult not to charge that proverbial arm and leg, right? And who doesn’t want to get that high-5 from the boss when returning to the office the following morning?

Homeowners are sensitive to the fast-talking, slick Willie’s who come into their home and make unbelievable, time consuming presentations. We even encountered one professional con artist who provided a form for the homeowner to “waive” their 3-day consumer rights period so work could start right away. In other words, it didn’t allow the consumer to think about the transaction, which is what the law, embodied in the Federal U. S. Code, allows. It’s a paint job, guys, not a hole in the roof that has to be fixed el-pronto!

We don’t want to go down that dealership path again. We changed our business model and sales are up because of it. Our model now allows painters, yes, real painters, and homeowners to buy our product directly. It’s unbelievable the number of homeowners who call and say “the ______ guy just left our house and quoted us $20,000 to paint our house. He promised the world but we just find it too good to be true.” We end-up selling the homeowner $1500 in product and suggest to them that they go to the Painting and Decorating Contrator’s Association’s website (www.pdca.com) and click on the FIND A PRO button. What does that do? It puts 5-gallon pails of a great product on your front porch and it allows them to find a real pro to apply the product. The PDCA is a 115-year-old association of painters. Membership in PDCA does not guarantee anything but getting 2-3 quotes from reputable PDCA painters improves your chances the prep work and job will be done correctly. These guys invest a few hundred bucks to join PDCA and that, in the least, makes a statement about their commitment to this industry. Costs savings of $12-15000.00 to the homeowner. Now, the homeowner’s give YOU a high-5.

Okay, you say, this cuts most of the posters of this website out of the picture. But why do we need an industry filled with folks offering promises that they know they shouldn’t make and have no knowledge of the actual product itself? If it weren’t for Ambien, I don’t know how many of them would sleep. If a dealer makes a promise to the homeowner thinking their “home office” will back-up their promise, they’re living in fantasy-land. If the dealer were a 25-50 year old, established local painter, I might have a different take on all of this. But I don’t see those legacy paint firms making these kinds of promises.

This industry has no “association” or “standards” they subscribe to, unlike the PDCA, which does. There’s no National Association of Permanent Paint Promisers who monitor what is said and is willing to reject membership if they don’t clean-up their act. But there’s also not a national association for con artists. Before the internet came around, the Number One category of complaints the BBB received, nationally, was Home Improvement Contractors. We’re happy to be suppliers to the home improvement industry but want no part with any individual or company who mis-states what our product is or does.

In case you’re a homeowner who might happen to be reading this and you want a product that has a proven 40-year history manufactured by a publicly traded company which is listed on the Master Painter’s Institute’s List of Approved Products (www.paintinfo.com) – – then talk to us. We’re at http://www.LiquidCeramicDirect.com. Yes, we want your business. We’ll deal with you directly and help you through the process of showing you how we differ from the store-bought paint products and why our product actually lasts longer.

We’ll promise to respect you as a person, homeowner and customer. We’ll be happy to speak with whoever you end-up hiring to prep your house and put the product on your house in the manner recommended in detail by the Master Painter’s Institute’s Repaint Manual. House values have dropped 10-15 nationwide in the past two years. There’s no point in loosing $20,000 more over some promise that it will add $20,000 in value to your house. We believe Liquid Ceramic is the right choice and as far as we see, we’re the only product in this industry who will sell to you direct, in at least 90% of this country. We hope to hear from you.

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