BIG cars, big dogs. Big projects.
At 22, she’s launching her second automotive business. Maddison Lawrence is an expert at surviving in a big boys world.
The young entrepreneur made a decision to invest in her own car detailing business – Slick Azz Auto Detailing – instead of uni fees when she was 17, and hasn’t looked back.
“I wanted to learn business but didn’t want to go to uni,” she said.
“The money I would have put into uni fees I put into cleaning cars, because that’s what I knew how to do.”
She bought a contract to clean a fleet of 100 cars for a company in Brisbane, where her journey as a business owner started, and soon expanded to Emerald and Rockhampton.
As her jobs expanded, so did her reputation in the sector.
“I was always obsessed with big cars, big dogs. Everything big,” she said.
“I love the industry because the people are just true blue Aussie. They don’t take themselves too seriously.
“They’re not cocky, they’re just genuine, hard-working people.”
In 2014 Ms Lawrence landed a major detailing contract with a truck company on the Sunshine Coast, Viking Trucks, and decided to “pull my vehicles” from Emerald and Rockhampton to focus on it.
“It was actually perfect timing, because it was right when the mines went bust,” she said.
A lot of her work in central Queensland was for mine companies’ vehicle fleets.
“I dodged a massive bullet,” she said.
“I wouldn’t have predicted that. It sounded like a good exit but I would have stayed if I hadn’t got this big contract.”
After working with the truck company and becoming more and more keen on that line of work, Viking Trucks offered her a position selling trucks.
“I was spending so much time there, so they got me into sales,” she said.
A natural entrepreneur, she was soon itching to focus on solving a problem in the industry through a new business idea.
She had kept the car-detailing business in Brisbane going, but had noticed when working with big rigs that many drivers were frustrated at having to re-paint their vehicles every two years because of stone chips.
“Pretty much no paint ends up on them after two years,” she said.
“I wanted to find a solution.”
Originally from central Queensland, Ms Lawrence went to school in Brisbane and now lives on the Sunshine Coast, where her second business, Slick Azz Protective Coatings, has its base at Coolum Beach.
Her focus morphed from purely car detailing to becoming the sole Australian distributor for an American auto specialist in paint protective film (PPF), a transparent film that stops paint damage.
“Everybody’s using it in the US, but barely anyone’s heard of it here,” she said.
In March Ms Lawrence travelled to Beijing for a trade show, where she sussed out the different PPF manufacturers worldwide and took home products to trial.
She then decided on a winner – Flexishield, by Reflek Technologies – and pursued the company, securing a sole-distributor contract for Australia.
The company’s representatives were luke-warm at first, she said, because Flexishield was designed for luxury cars, not trucks.
“They laughed at the fact I wanted to use it on trucks, and in Australia, where they said there just weren’t enough people,” she said.
So she flew to the US with three of her team, presenting them for training, and the deal was secured.
The product will launch at global automotive trade show SEMA, Las Vegas, in two weeks, when Ms Lawrence will also launch it in Australia.
“My goal is to have distributors in every major city,” she said.
This article first appeared in the Sunshine Coast Daily on 21 October, 2016