It started out pretty simple. In 1973, a young guy wanted some car parts plated for his ’37 Ford Coupe. Now, four decades later, that young guy owns Metal-Brite Polishing, and they do polishing and chrome plating for customers all over the United States.
“I was working for Ohio Bell and building my hot rod, and I needed some chrome plating done,” Mike Barr said as he sat behind the desk in his office at the shop. “I was working with Don Miller
of Miller Plating and the price was $9 an hour for plating and I only made $5 an hour so I knew I couldn’t afford it. But Don agreed to teach me how to prep the metal and he would do it for $5. He taught me well, and I started doing polishing in the evenings and on weekends and doing work for other guys in the car club. We all helped each other back then,” Barr said.
By 1979, Barr had joined with Ralph Kleinfelter and started a polishing business, which they sold. It later failed. Barr, however, had retained the name Metal-Brite and in 1984 he started again, and he’s still going strong.
“Look here, a package from Oregon,” he said as he sifted through the morning mail. “This is just the pieces he could mail, he’s shipping the other big stuff,” Barr said. The counter area was littered with parts and pieces that were waiting to be photographed, tagged and then put in line for prep, repair and eventual plating or polishing.
“We don’t do any chrome plating here. Hohman Plating does all of our work, and we do all of Hohman’s polishing. The EPA rules on chrome are quite tight, and Hohman has the facilities and the expertise to do all that. Our team cleans the pieces, does all the repair work, soldering, welding and buffing to get it ready to plate. And then we finish it and send it back out,” Barr explained.
Of the seven full-time employees, two are Barr’s sons, Jim and Casey. His third son, Chad, is involved in the family’s other passion, auto racing.
“I grew up around the Dayton Speedway and, by the time I was 18, I was racing a stock car at Kil-Kare and Shady Bowl,” Barr explained. “Well, I got married and had kids and agreed to quit racing. So 41 years later, I built a stock car and started running at Eldora. Chad and I raced against each other, and we had a ball. He was the only guy on the track I was always after, and I never beat him when he was still running at the end of the race. But it was the most fun I’ve ever had,” he added.
Barr explained that his shop can handle steel, aluminum, pot metal, copper, brass and nickel, virtually anything. “We can even apply a chrome finish to plastic,” he said. “With all of the car and antique shows on TV now, we’re getting in all kinds of stuff. We’ve even polished and plated barber chairs, cash registers and candelabras.”
To learn more about Metal-Brite Polishing, go to www.metal-britepolishing.com or call (937) 278-9739. Located at 2445 Neff Road, the business is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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