Eric Martin was tinting windows two years before graduating from Park Hill high school in 1991. He turns 44 years old today, but at his core, Martin still considers himself a person who tints windows.
A walk through No. 9 Saloon bar and grill and into KC Tint Works – located together at 6609 N. Oak Trafficway in Kansas City – reveals an entrepreneurial side of Martin, too.
Martin moved KC Tint Works into its current location 26 months ago, and two months later, with a partner on the bar side, No. 9 Saloon opened, making it a unique combination of a tint and automobile accessory business along with a bar and grill.
“It works awesome,” Martin said. “People can come in, drop their vehicles off, but instead of dropping it off and leaving, they can have lunch. We have amazing food. You can catch a game and have a drink if you choose to. It really works hand in hand.
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“We get a lot of compliments. I think there is one other operation like this. I think it is in Canada. All my vendors and sales reps, it is amazing to them. We also have live music. We do a lot of big events.
“My business partner in the bar is an entrepreneur as well. She owns a gel fingernail polish company. We are both on the same page.”
Martin has visions of expanding into other areas.
“The long-term goal is a tattoo shop and a fabrication shop,” he said. “I am all about self employed.”
When it comes to tinting windows, Martin said he has a great reputation in the Northland. He has been doing it since he was a teenager. He does residential and commercial window tinting. He has even traveled as far as Los Angeles to tint windows.
Martin employs seven others at KC Tint Works to tint car windows, among other things such as installing audio systems and wheels on motorcycles, cars and trucks, and doing wraps for vehicles.
To bring more awareness about what KC Tint Works is about, Martin had a large booth at the first-ever Boyd Coddington Garage All Speed Expo Nov. 21-22 at KCI Expo.
“I really believe that show is going to take off as more of a vendor show,” Martin said. “We will have the biggest booth again next year.
“My name is out there in the Northland. I have been in the Northland all my life. We went there (All Speed Expo) to gain more awareness because I did meet more people there. They might have known about No. 9 Saloon or KC Tint Works, but didn’t know the combination.”
It all started for Martin in 1989 when he started tinting windows. He also was into cars, estimating that he had 60 of them before graduating. But tinting was his passion.
“I worked for a couple of companies and knew there was a need for window tinting and honestly, it was very profitable,” Martin said.
Five years after graduating high school, Martin started KC Tint Works. Tinting windows in residential homes and commercial businesses as well as tinting vehicle windows kept him busy.
People have their car windows tinted for a variety of reasons. One is cosmetic. It looks good. It also reduces ultraviolet rays.
“The major benefit of window tinting is ultraviolet rays,” Martin said. “Anybody who has skin cancer-type problems, it is obviously a huge benefit to them. It rejects some heat out of the vehicle. It keeps the car cooler.
“And then there is the look. Honestly, it is the cheapest thing you can do to a car to change the look of it.”
For the average, four-door car, window tinting costs about $160, Martin said.
In 2002, Martin expanded his business. He was renting space from an owner who ran a car stereo business.
“After a year of renting space, the stereo shop owner was kind of burned out,” Martin said. “There was money to be made. I bought it from him and away we went.”
Six years later in 2008, Martin expanded KC Tint Works to include after-market accessories, such as lifts and lower body kits for trucks and automobiles. His shop also does auto wraps.
To learn more about all the different services provided by KC Tint Works beyond tinting windows, visit www.kansascitytintworks.com.
Martin rarely has a dull day. Whether it is tinting windows in the community or working on an auto wrap or any of the other things KC Tint Works does, Martin is busy.
“It is exciting,” Martin said about working on a wrap. “They will give us their thoughts and then we will put it on the computer and then print them a proof, but a proof doesn’t do anything until your whole vehicle is done.
“It is just amazing to see the smile on people’s faces. That is what we try to do every day.”
Of course, there are days Martin feels a bit overwhelmed by running so many businesses in one space.
“Yes, every day I think I’m trying to do too much,” Martin said. “I push myself. People say you have this, you have this, you have this. I have this because I don’t ever stop.
“Sometimes it gets to where it is not enjoyable because you have so much going on. It can be tough, for sure.”
Martin takes pride in the work that KC Tint Works does and the type of place No. 9 Saloon has become.
“We have gained a lot of customers on the bar side who have always been customers at KC Tints Works and vice versa,” Martin said. “Some people think it is just a bar. They don’t know we have food. We are really trying to get it out there that we have both.”
When asked if No. 9 Saloon serves typical bar food, Martin was quick to correct that assumption.
“We have real food,” Martin said. “There is nothing brought in here that is frozen. We prepare everything. It is all fresh, daily.”
A typical day for Martin starts when he leaves his house at 6:30 in the morning, and ends when he returns home at 1:30 a.m.
His philosophy is if you do good work, people will come. He has had people from as far away as Belton and Lawrence bring their vehicles in to have work done on them.
“It is a blast,” Martin said. “I will spend hours with people picking out wheel and tire combinations for their old hot rods. There is nothing that gets old because every day is different. A good day for me is when I see a satisfied customer. That’s a good day for me.”