You can make a good living from restoring the chrome on cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles. But it is an expensive business to start because of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws and rules.The EPA regulates the purchase and disposal of toxic chrome chemicals. The equipment and the supplies and building all have to meet EPA standards. The start-up costs can range from £65,000 to £130,000. The EPA will require you to properly dispose of the chemicals, which can cost up to £39,000 per year.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 2000 amp power supply
- Six tanks, 120 gallons each
- Chroming chemicals
Do you already know the business? If you don't, you may want to volunteer for a chroming firm in your area to learn the ropes. Sign up to receive technical journals and read books on the subject. Try to attend classes in chrome plating if you can. Join the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) to gain access to materials and supply information to help you get your chroming business started. Get to know and network with NASF members to learn more about what the chroming business entails.
Take care of all the necessary paperwork with the EPA and your local governments. Buy business insurance. Visit your local municipal building and apply for a license or a permit to operate your chroming business. Log on to GovSpot.com and apply for your state’s Department of Revenue tax ID number. Call (800) 429-4833 and apply for your federal tax ID number.
Select the location where you want to open your chroming business. Invite the EPA to the site to approve the location and the building. Prepare to set up shop by reviewing the local, state, and federal laws on operating and starting a chrome business. Purchase, rent or lease the building after you have met all the qualifications for opening the shop. Locate your shop wherever you want as long as it can be approved by local, state, and federal governments. The facility should be designed for chemistry, plating and the polishing of chrome materials. Make sure the floors are coated with high quality chemical resistant material to prevent concrete damage.
Buy a power supply that would put out at least 2000 amps, which is what it takes to chrome plate one car bumper. Obtain at least six tanks that are at least 7 feet long and 18 inches wide and deep--large enough to accomodate a car bumper. You'll also need a fume extraction system that is approved by the EPA. Hire a qualified chemist to make sure that you are properly balancing the chemicals. Dispose of the chemicals by hiring an outside company that specialises in hazardous waste.
You can run the business by yourself but it is very time consuming and at least one assistant would make it more manageable. Hire the services of a chemist who knows how to balance chrome chemicals. How much you make will depend on the size of your operation. You will be charging by the job, at about £650 for a day's work. The business could generate more than £195,000 a year.
Tips and warnings
- Attend auto trade shows and pass out your business cards.
- Learn from competitors and improve chroming techniques.
- Develop a safety program to dispose of waste.
- Keep your business updated on chroming laws.
- Make sure you are learning new chroming processes.
- Avoid buying expensive chroming equipment.
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