IDA Founder's Club Member Spotlight: Steve Goldman
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Steve Goldman is the President of Ardex Labs, Inc. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a member of the IDA Founder's Club.
International Detailing Association (IDA): How did you get into the detailing industry?
Steve Goldman (SG): Detailing has been in my family since the 1940’s when my grandfather, Aaron, turned his love of chemistry into a business. Early on, he developed a product for cleaning the whitewalls on tires. Back then, the sidewalls of tires were mostly white, and people took pride in keeping them clean. His clientele was mostly gas stations, where most car reconditioning occurred. Aaron met up with a partner, Dexter, to help with the sales, and together they established a company they named “Ardex.”
My father, Fred, started working after school as a salesperson and delivering products. As my father got more involved, he eventually took over the business. Ardex grew aggressively under his leadership. Around this time, I spent summers capping bottles, and once I got my license, making drum deliveries. After college, I joined Ardex on a permanent basis. As the years passed, learning even more about the business and working in many different departments, I took a lead role at Ardex and am currently the President.
IDA: What is your most memorable career moment so far?
SG: Over the years, I’ve seen many changes. But my most memorable moment is when I first walked into our current facility. At the time Ardex had been transitioning from a facility in North Philadelphia to one in a suburb of Philadelphia. During that transition, we heard about an even better building that was a perfect fit for our needs. The building was a huge leap from our original start in the basement of my grandfather’s house, to now, an 80,000 square foot building! To celebrate our move, we planned a grand opening with local news coverage, a car show, and all the hoopla we could muster up. We even got the Mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell, to help cut the ribbon. It was an exciting day that I’ll never forget. I like to reflect on where we were so many years ago to where we have made it to today.
IDA: In what products or services does your company specialize?
SG: Ardex has had many successful new products since our whitewall cleaner. Over the years, we began to employ a full-time chemist to assist in developing more advanced formulations. Although we have diversified to engage in all things detailing, we have always excelled in our polishes and compounds. With the help of our talented chemist, we’ve been able to develop some of the best solutions at reasonable prices. And now we’ve stepped up in the world of ceramics with our user-friendly and feature-rich solution called Tungsten. Although we weren’t the first to engage this market share, we know we came out with a high-quality solution. Our team took the time to evaluate the chemistry and release a formula to achieve quality we have come to be known for in this industry.
One of the great strengths of Ardex is our customer service and support, both in distributor-level sales and a robust direct-sales segment. With direct sales, it puts us on the front line. We are able to hear very quickly and accurately what the market is facing in challenges and opportunities. We know what our distributors are facing, and we can offer solutions and support to help make them stronger.
IDA: What do you think is the most important factor to being successful in the detailing industry?
SG: To me, the most important factor in successful detailing is the same for all segments, the manufacturer, the supplier, and the detailer: reliability and honesty. Ardex’s 69 years in the business is a testament to our meeting those critical traits. Whatever circumstances arise, it is how you react. Problems are often an opportunity to step up and be better than. If you do so with honesty and your customer can rely on that consistently, success will follow. With this tradition, word of mouth has helped us achieve our goals. It is very rewarding when I hear from customers that have been using Ardex for 20 or 30 years and have enjoyed great success in their detail business.
IDA: What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
SG: Ardex is very proud to have taken advantage of the invitation to be a member of the IDA’s Founder’s Club. The IDA is working hard to make our industry more respected and recognized. I look forward to when more people become aware of IDA’s Certified Detailers before they consider getting work done for their detailing needs. Or when auto dealers require their detail techs to get their IDA Certification in order to be authorized to work in the detail department. I can already see the commercials on TV annotating this feature! Many icons in this industry have worked hard and laid the groundwork for this, and I look forward to contributing to the success of that movement.
IDA: What advice do you have for detailers?
SG: My biggest tip to detailers is to stay on top of the latest developments in our industry. The IDA is a great resource that will benefit your business as well as other local organizations. This business is challenging enough. Don’t be too busy to look for help outside of your own circle, and hopefully your detail supplier will be available to offer guidance as well.