Leaving teaching for tiling - East Valley Tribune: Business

Leaving teaching for tiling

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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2005 7:55 am | Updated: 8:30 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Fifteen-years ago, Tim Maas, 49, of Tempe was earning $27,000-a-year as a substitute elementary school teacher in south Phoenix.

Today, his company, Armor-Deck, is drawing about $7.5 million annually in gross revenue.

The dollar figures alone tells the success story of Tim Maas.

But, there is more than bottom line numbers to this tale.

"I’ve reach the point in my life where I can start other ventures," said the entrepreneur. "I can create things that help other people by creating jobs and helping communities."

Maas, who lives with his wife, Lori and three pet dogs, two Labrador retrievers and a husky, describes himself as a "military brat."

His father, retired Army Master Sergeant Cliff Maas, travelled around-the-world as a military attaché with the United States Embassy.

The Maas family, including his mother, Pat; two brothers and two sisters, lived in Rangoon, Burma, Japan, Thailand and several other countries before they moved to Tempe when Tim Maas was 11.

Maas graduated from Tempe High School. His parents also live in Tempe.

"As a kid growing up, I gained a different perspective of the world," said Maas. "It was a broader view. I saw a lot of poverty and a lot of different cultures. It was a real education."

Maas, in Tempe, learned the skills of business delivering newspapers, establishing a health club and, as an accomplished guitarist, performing solo and with bands in Valley nightclubs and entertainment venues.

He eventually earned a teaching degree at Arizona State University and worked as a substitute teacher in the Roosevelt School District in Phoenix.

In 1991, his career took a new turn.

"My dad, who taught in junior high in Mesa after he retired from the Army, wanted me to become a teacher," Maas said. "I enjoyed it. I used a lot of the knowledge I gained living throughout the world to help my students."

Then, like the names of his international home-towns, one day things began to change.

"I was having a pool built in our backyard in Tempe and I watched a worker apply materials to the concrete surrounding the pool that made it look like saltillo tile. I was impressed, so I asked him how he did it and he told me about the process."

Maas decided to create Amor-Deck, a company that installs creative pool decking that makes concrete look like saltillo, flagstone and slate. He and his wife worked from the loft of their Tempe home, and earned $62,000 their first year.

"At first, the business was only going to be part-time while I worked full-time teaching, and I was torn between teaching and the business," Maas recalled. "I eventually decided to work full-time at Amor-Deck."

The company name was selected by the couple from the images of the armorbearing knights of old and the tough-skinned armadillo.

The following year, 1993 Armor-Deck, earned $250,000 and, as more people moved to the Valley, income exploded: 1994, $600,000; 1995, $1.2 million; 1996, $2.4 million; 1997, $4.1 million and in 1998, the company made the top 500 list of successful fast-growing small businesses by Qualified Remodeler Magazine and earned $4.5 million.

In 1994, Maas rented a 2,000-square foot office and warehouse and a few years later decided to build his current office-warehouse on S. Kyrene Road that has two other tenants besides Armor-Deck.

To date, the company has installed more than 15 million square feet of concrete coatings at homes throughout the Valley

However, concrete coatings is only one facet of the growing Maas enterprise. In addition, the company has expanded to include water features, barbecues and, in 2000, Maas created another company, Pride of the Valley Card Deck, a direct mail advertising firm.

The firm mails direct advertisements on cards mailed to home owners in the Valley.

"Compared with other forms of advertising, we can design a card with eyecatching graphics and deliver a great message for about 5 to 6 cents each," Maas said.

"I’ve tried a lot of different ventures," said Maas. "But I’ve always been drawn back to Armor-Deck. I’m always looking for something new and different, though."

Among the other businesses Maas has opened include a pest control company, an art gallery, a ministorage and the latest, a restaurant in Newport, N.C.

The restaurant, Broad Creek Restaurant, is being operated by two of his former employees. He is also investing in residential development in Prescott and log-home construction in northern Arizona.

"I’ve reached a point in my life that I can try to create companies that create jobs and help communities," Maas said. "My father was always looking for ways to make other peoples’ lives better and I’m trying to follow him."

Maas is also superstitious.

"When I see a coin on the ground and its tails-up, I turn it to heads-up and leave it on the ground so somebody else can find it and pick it up," Maas said.

He and his wife are active and are contributors to the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley and regularly participate in marathon runs in Tempe and throughout the Valley.

Tim Maas Age: 49

Family: Wife, Lori

Resides in: Tempe

Business: Founder and CEO of Armor-Deck, 6315 S. Kyrene Road, Tempe

Key achievement: In 15 years, turned a small company operated from his home into a multi-million dollar firm, and today is continuing to explore more business ventures

Success Philosophy: "Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Reward people who come along the journey." — Tim Maas

Information: www.armor-deck.com or call (480) 456-0555

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