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John Schlumpberger

John's Story- Beginnings

I was introduced to wrenches when I could walk; my Father had a repair business plus he bought and sold used cars. Many of those cars needed to be buffed and touched up so I was handed a rotary buffer when I was about 14 years old. Watching him and then being assigned repair projects, I was not only changing oil, grinding valves and taking out transmissions, but I also started fixing dents, rust and painting on cars. The first car I painted without coaching was a black ‘66 Impala; prepped, masked with newspaper, sprayed with DuPont Lacquer, sanded and buffed at age 15. Even before that I was enthralled with the new “candy apple” and “metal flake” paints I was reading about. I remember sanding down my Honda 160 tank and fenders and spraying metal-flake red with twenty coats of clear lacquer, sanding it flat and giving it another 10 coats of clear, sanding again and then painfully learning how to buff those pieces with that heavy buffer.

I remember the first car I painted using candy apple blue (with lace hood and deck stripes) was my ‘65 Impala SS and then I metal-flaked (green) my ‘62 Chevy II in my Dad’s garage. I remember that flake showing up years later all over the garage shelves and even found flake in other paint projects.

In 1974 the freedom of independent business ownership hit me and I started my own body shop, and from there I was pretty much self-taught and specialized in complete paint jobs and taking on custom painting on cars and motorcycles. Fast forward to 1986 and I was faced with making a decision to invest in more equipment or do something else. One determining factor was the day I read that isocyanates entered your blood stream through the veins in your eyes. This was when fresh air supply and full suits were space age technology coming to the body shop. Even though I was timid in communication at the time, for some reason I thought selling would be a good career move.

"I had the $500.00 we needed to start and he had the contact to buy at wholesale so a partnership was made; we then went out together for an education on the hard work of establishing a customer base."

I started out with a friend (Ron Baker) who also had a body shop in New Ulm; he previously introduced me to another glaze product that I started using in my shop and one day he suggested that we start selling polish together. I had the $500.00 we needed to start and he had the contact to buy at wholesale so a partnership was made; we then went out together for an education on the hard work of establishing a customer base. It seemed so easy but the first day we sold $0 after doing about 15 demonstrations in the neighboring town of Mankato. The next morning began with a recording on the answering machine that we had talked to the wrong guy at Mankato Oil; the owner saw that bright shiny spot on his black Ford truck hood and wanted a case for resale. Our first dealer customer was established and I can proudly say that they are still a strong customer today after 33 years. We gradually overcame our fears of cold call selling to businesses and quickly learned that our past body shop experience was a great advantage. We continued selling polish to body shops, motorcycle shops, paint suppliers and parts stores while exhibiting at car and motorcycle shows on weekends.

We spent every day together for two years and decided it was past time to split up and double our work efforts. After some serious negotiation we decided to part ways; I purchased his interest and was on my own to enlighten the world to car polish. I started reading books, listened to audio tapes and even maxed out my very first credit card to go to a Tony Robbins seminar. I was empowered to be successful and implemented the work ethic I learned from my father with my business. I continued working by myself with some help with shipping from my teenage son, then my Mom doing all the shipping when I was out traveling the country for weeks and even months at a time. I would sell from my van and fax orders that were called in to the answering machine. Sales doubled every year as I grew my customer and independent distributor base so I decided to move closer to the metro area for easier logistics and sourcing full time employees.

In 1994 I purchased a home in Hanover (about twenty minutes out of Minneapolis) and then a business property in the industrial park. With the help of a good support team the business grew as I continued to travel across the country establishing new and larger accounts, while servicing what I could from the van. In 1996 the company officially branded the name WIZARDS and began slowly manufacturing new products. The WIZARDS Metal Polish was our first product and then the Shine Master Polish & Sealant followed by the Mist-N-Shine Professional Detailer which is still our best-selling and most highly regarded product.

In the beginning of Wizards Products, I commissioned a chemist in California to create a formula, then two other chemists in New York and another in Saint Paul. After a year of frustration of not getting what I wanted, I decided that if I wanted top quality products combined with the ability to control quality, we had to figure it out for ourselves. All they could say was it’s good enough for everyone else, you’re too fussy, you’re unreasonable and the best of all was – just do a better label and marketing. With help sourcing information and samples I began formulating for a better polish and through the years have learned a lot about formulations, mainly through trial and error and thousands of lab samples of all our products we sell today. My key advantage was and is that I can test the formula and make changes within minutes and not weeks. I have always said that you can have the best chemist in the world but if you can’t test it properly you won’t have the right feedback. My years of painting and running a buffer are still paying rewards. 

Today we have expanded with an adjoining property, more buildings, more manufacturing equipment and a great loyal work staff that have become family. We have sorted through several marketing methods through the years and are now working with one of the best marketing companies to ride the edge of digital marketing methods today. With the combination of excellent high-quality products and great labels and marketing, we continue to expand. We have surprises coming – stay tuned.

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