The 1970’s saw the seeds sown for what would become the model for 21st century collision shops. Before the days of ABRA, CARSTAR and Caliber, Pittsburgh industrialist Ward Wickwire signed the first franchising agreement to open an American Way International body shop in Pittsburgh. The agreement carried an option for franchised shops throughout Pennsylvania. Wickwire fully believed that the AWI business model would solve many of the industry’s problems.
AWI never became a household word or was nationally recognized, but this period would give rise to those who were. In 1972, Anthony A. Martino opened his first auto painting shop in Wilmington, DE. Using the first letter of his last name, and the first letter of his first and middle name, he called his new business Maaco Auto Painting. He soon began to open additional shops providing a good overall paint job at a reasonable cost and by 1977, he had almost 200 locations. Martino died in January, 2008 and in October, the company he founded was sold to Driven Brands of Charlotte, NC, a holding company which also holds Meineke Car Care Centers and Econo Lube among others.
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