Anthony A. Martino, 75, Founder of MAACO, Dies

Founder, Mentor and Friend to Thousands

February 06, 2008 // Franchising.com // Anthony A. Martino, founder, chairman and CEO of MAACO Collision Repair & Auto Painting, passed away on Jan. 27. He was 75 years old.

"He'll be missed. He was a great person and a great mentor for our company since 1972. His vision endures though, and our brand is solid," said Anthony Martino's son Mark. Mark Martino, who has served in a number of capacities at MAACO since the company's founding, will move from vice chairman to chairman.

Anthony Martino began his career in 1959 with a repair shop specializing in automatic transmission repair. He named his company Aamco Transmissions, an acronym for Anthony A. Martino & Co., to top the Yellow Pages telephone listings, and began franchising in 1962. Mr. Martino sold his interest in Aamco in 1967 after guiding it to industry leadership.

In 1972 Mr. Martino sensed another opportunity and opened a pilot MAACO Auto Painting & Bodyworks center, positioning the brand between low-cost auto painters of lesser quality and expensive dealership work.

"About all I had to interest franchisees was my reputation, so I turned my initials around and used them again," Martino recalled. "It seemed to work very well."

The unique value proposition clicked with consumers as well. Today, nearly 500 MAACO facilities repair and paint more than 700,000 vehicles a year, the vast majority requiring collision or cosmetic body repairs. Many customers are "out-of-pocket payers," who do not rely on their insurance. About one-fourth of the vehicles are for national and local fleets. To date, the King of Prussia, Pa., company has painted more than 17 million vehicles.

"Many look at MAACO today, with all our collective success, and forget that Tony could have retired after Aamco and been set for life," Mark Martino said. "His contemporaries scoffed at his notion of a chain of shops where the franchisee had no prior experience in this business. The belief in 'can do' together with the resolve of 'will do, whatever it takes,' is the sprit Tony brought to MAACO in 1972."

Anthony Martino's business interests and acumen extended beyond automobiles into areas such as early childhood education, according to David Lapps. Lapps, a 30-year veteran of MAACO, will assume the position of president immediately.

"Tony's ability to help franchisees succeed in business was not limited to the automotive field," said Lapps. "He also founded the Goddard School for Early Childhood Development in 1988, and established it as a leader in quality childcare before selling it in 2002."

In addition to his son Mark, Mr. Martino is survived by his wife Karen; two other sons, Jerry and Christopher; and three daughters, Lisa, Kim and Stacey.

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