published Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Headlight doctor is in: Deal places kits in area Ace Hardwares

Chris Watts' headlight renewing system is being sold in Chattanooga area Ace Hardware stores.
Chris Watts' headlight renewing system is being sold in Chattanooga area Ace Hardware stores.
Photo by Angela Lewis.
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The Chattanooga-based Headlight Renew Doctor's latest retail deal is placing his kit in Ace Hardware stores throughout the Chattanooga area.

That's on top of a recent deal to sell 15,000 units to an Australian company.

"We've been working our way up from the bottom," said entrepreneur Chris Watts.

Since 2008, he's grown sales from 3,000 kits per year to a projected 50,000 units by the end of the year.

"We think we're going to break sales of $1 million next year," Watts said.

The doctor started his career by fighting the sun.

In the mid-2000s, he found a job sanding away the yellow and clouded plastic from UV-damaged headlights on old cars. But the cloudiness would return within a few weeks.

Through trial and error, he discovered a secret ingredient he could squirt onto the headlight to protect it from further sun damage.

"Four years ago, I was broke," Watts said. "The next thing I knew, I was making $600 to $800 bucks a pop doing headlights."

He began calling himself the Headlight Renew Doctor and offered his service to customers who in many cases didn't realize there was a problem.

Once word got out, people started asking him for a do-it-yourself kit. So he designed a simple box and started inking deals with truck stops, dealerships and now retailers.

After four years of growing his headlight renewal empire, he says he's finally hit it big. If the product sells well, he says that Ace Hardware stores around the country will begin stocking his product, which is produced in Chattanooga at the Orange Grove Center.

Always the salesman, he takes a few shots at national competitors like 3M, MeGuiar's and Rain-X, some of whom are starting to take notice.

A Google search for headlight renew doctor reveals a bevy of competitors looking to profit from Watts' brand.

"With those guys, it's this whole sanding and buffing process," he said. "It's hard to do and lasts 30 days at best. Mine will last three to four years."

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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