In 2011, David Wright, Jr. was a single dad who shared with his teenage son Andrew a passion for racing, go-carts, cars, and making car parts “hum” through the use of powder coating, a process I’ll explain in a minute. David is a luxury automobile service technician by trade, and cars are his “thing.” His hope was to teach Andrew the trade while building a relationship with him, and, as David says, “hand off the trade to him if he wanted to pursue it.”
He and Andrew had spent their usual Wednesday night together, building a spray booth in David’s garage with plans to fire it up when Andrew returned later for the weekend. David took him to school the next morning, and Andrew looked at him with a smile and said, “Bye Dad, I love you. See you tomorrow!” Tomorrow, as they say, never came and Andrew accidentally killed himself through a horrible practice called “the choking game.” While suicide is something that does plague our kids, the choking game is not born out of depression and a desire to escape emotional pain. It is more like playing Russian Roulette, with its thrill of beating potentially fatal odds. The “hook” is the adrenaline rush, and adrenaline, it turns out, is a highly addictive drug. There were no signs that Andrew was in trouble, although David now understands that the two most common signs are headaches and red eyes.
“He never got the chance to spray,” David says with a broken softness in his voice that is the unmistakable mark of a bereaved parent. “I fell apart for awhile, and couldn’t even look at the stuff in the garage.” He is very transparent, both about his struggle and how God picked him back up and began to restore him. “My dad said, ‘You’ve got to get back in there,’” and so he did. He has done several things, one being an educator regarding the choking game. Another was racing at various events in Andrew’s memory. He speaks at schools, churches and community groups about the dangers of the choking game, and has begun to rebuild his life. He remarried about 18 months ago, and he and his lovely bride Jessica moved from Madison to Athens last year to get a fresh start. They totally love Athens, by the way, and are looking forward to serving us by honoring Andrew’s memory and providing the best custom powder coat, spray bed liner and hydrographic service around.
So, what is powder coating? It is a beautiful, environmentally friendly way to make nearly anything made of metal “pop” with color. It has uses in farming, the automotive industry, and the building industry, (with metal porch railings, for example). The metal is stripped, sand blasted, steam cleaned, and made absolutely free of any dirt. The powder is sprayed on, and because of ionic charges, doesn’t even need to be sprayed on the back. “It wraps around it,” said David, and with a smile said, “Then you put it in the oven at 400 F for 20 minutes.” He took a small metallic decorative word, (“Hope,” to be exact,) sprayed it blue, and baked it. It cures in an hour and it was shiny and lush. Powder coating was Andrew’s and is David’s passion.
Currently, Kreative Koatings is running a special on sprayed-on bed liner coatings while supplies last. A short truck bed costs $399 to spray, and the texture can be anywhere from smooth to quite rough. David showed me some of their other completed projects, including powder coated windshield wipers, parts of a Mustang engine, and a custom sprayed frame around a pickup windshield.
Kreative Koatings has the ardent support of both David and Jessica’s families, and both of their moms, Janet Martin, and Lucy Maroney work at the shop. David’s brother, Chris Pyle helps out as well. Jessica manages the office, and is also learning to do powder coating. As is the case with any start up business, the work is long and they are “meeting themselves coming and going,” but it is obvious they are loving what they are doing. I asked David, as I always do, why I should come to Kreative Koatings when I have other choices, and here is what he told me. “We focus on quality, rather than quantity, and we want to be a ‘one stop coating shop’ for our customers.” He added, “No other commercial facility exists in Athens that powder coats.”
They are planning on adding other services soon, including hydrographics, (which is a printed ink film that is transferred to metal through a water bath, and is popular with ATV-ers and 4-wheelers,) as well as ceramic coating, which is used in guns, exhaust systems and headers. Once they get the rest of the necessary licenses and equipment, they’ll be up and running. For now, however, they are happy to serve the people of North Alabama through the venue of a business that was “inspired by a young man’s drive for excellence.”
Kreative Koatings and Hydrographics
14612 Cambridge Lane, Suite A, Athens, AL 35613 (Just off Hwy 72 before Onyx Gym)
Hours: Mon-Fri 8-7, Sat 8-12
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner