LOUISVILLE, Ky.-They say love conquers all. They also warn you never to work with your spouse, if you know what's good for you. It appears ``they'' are only half right.
Together, David and Sarah McAdoo have successfully grown a retreading-related business with elbow grease, a bucket of paint and perseverance. Along the way, they've encountered many of the typical obstacles a fledgling business experiences.
And then there were those other times when it seemed that, were it not for inner strength and perhaps a measure of divine intervention, their dream of operating their own venture could easily have become a victim of circumstances.
David, 30, has been around retread shops since he was nine, when he began working with his dad, Sonny, whose McAdoo Tire Co. Inc. had its main plant in Atlanta and another in Florida.
In 1984, after more than 40 years in business, the Georgia facility burned down, prompting Sonny to close the business.
David went to work for another tire company and, along the way, studied to become a mechanical engineer. He and Sarah married in 1991 and founded McAdoo Tire Equipment Inc. a year later.
Working out of a rented building in Conyers, Ga., initially just the two of them refurbished old retreading equipment to like-new condition. It was tough, meticulous work. But even from childhood, with his mechanical affinity David had always tried to understand what made things tick.
``Working with my dad, I had to recondition, service and repair everything that breaks down in a retread shop,'' Mr. McAdoo said, taking a few moments away from his company's booth at the recent World Tire Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Ky., sponsored by the International Tire and Rubber Association (ITRA).
The McAdoos' endeavor has grown slowly, adding employees and even a new firm along the way.
While the company refurbishes buffers, builders, air compressors, and other related equipment-and is an authorized Brannick service center-the McAdoos began fabricating new curing chambers when they couldn't procure used ones.
Last year, they started another company, Cure Tech Inc., which began manufacturing new autoclaves in November and currently produces about one per month. Mr. McAdoo claims they reach curing temperatures faster and have a larger capacity than standard units. Five chambers already have been delivered, including three to Consolidated Tire Co. in Phoenix.
During the ITRA trade show, four were sold by Ultima Rubber Products, which is exclusively handling the chambers for the McAdoos.
But there have been times when business was the farthest thing from the couple's minds.
Three years ago Sarah, now 25, was hit by a car and seriously injured while bicycling. Her right arm bears scars from the encounter that landed her in the hospital with numerous broken bones.
``David and I got real close,'' she recalled. ``For several months he pushed my wheelchair and literally had to feed me because I couldn't do it myself.''
Then a year later it was her turn to reciprocate when he cracked up a motorcycle-and himself-pretty badly during a motocross race.
Both admitted that the business stayed afloat but didn't flourish.
Today, it, too, seems to have recuperated, if the ITRA show is any barometer. The couple had scant time to sit around-their booth al-ways appeared to be a hub of inquiry and order-taking.
The McAdoos now have eight employees. Reconditioning is still a big staple for the company, as used equipment-once they've worked their magic on it-is priced at about half the cost of a new piece.
``We're trying to set a new standard in the industry,'' Mr. McAdoo explained. Equipment is stripped down to its components, sand blasted and repainted, with some parts such as electronics replaced. ``It comes out like a new piece of equipment at substantial savings-so a lot of times we put in an entire plant for customers.''
And they enforce some tough terms, requiring a 50-percent deposit before any work is undertaken and final payment before shipment.
``But that's another thing that keeps you successful,'' Mr. McAdoo said. ``You don't ever get burned.''
The McAdoos also are attempting to bring a new standard to the way they conduct business.
As practicers of the Bahai faith, they believe following its tenets has helped their companies grow.
``I like to think the reason why we're so prosperous,'' Mrs. McAdoo said, ``is we've incorporated the Bahai ideals into our business-to be trustworthy and truthful, to do what you say you're going to do.''
Mr. McAdoo defers a lot of the credit for the couple's success to his wife. While he's content to sit at a computer, designing equipment or keeping close tabs on quality control, she handles much of the customer relations side of the operation.
``People really like her,'' Mr. McAdoo said. ``She's so outgoing, and I attribute most of our success, especially here at the show, to Sarah.''