Going into business with your best friend does not always end up with success. However, Mark Estrada and Zach Lovett set out with a dream of creating a line striping business and did just that.
“We came from the School of Hard Knocks,” says Estrada, Sr. Vice President, of Marathon Solutions Group in Houston, TX. “From the early triumphs and costly mistakes in our 20’s, to our mental and business expansion in our 30’s, we are learning about the business from the ground up, through many different avenues of life lessons.”
The high school friends started in the industry in 2005, where Zach Lovett, while serving in the military began knocking on doors in Abilene, TX. “We went to work and really started disrupting this little market,” says Lovett, Managing Member. “There was only one other company in town, so we stuck to our guns and got a few friends to come up from Houston and help us complete the work we were winning.”
The team went from applying 300 gallons of paint in the first year to installing over 45,000 gallons of paint in 2019.
Technology Creates a Mindset Shift
“When we discovered what a LineDriver was, it was a rebirth of our company,” says Estrada. “That one machine really opened our eyes and we started getting more aggressive to bid bigger jobs. That’s when we knew we had to stay ahead of the game with technology and innovations.”
By adding ride-on stripers, auto-layout systems and laser technology to their fleet, Marathon Solutions Group was able to take on more work, complete jobs in less time and increase the moral of their team members. Little did they know it would become a staple to their brand.
As the company grew, so did the service offerings. When the company first started, they only offered striping. However, as the years went on Estrada and Lovett knew they had to continue to evolve and offer more services.
“Our philosophy is don’t say no, if at all possible” says Lovett. “When the customer asks for help in an area that we have little or no experience, it’s a potential opportunity. We spend a lot of time trying to make new things work because we don’t want to say no to our customers unless its absolutely necessary.”
With that philosophy the company got into thermoplastic
Marathon Solutions Group prides themselves on their dedication to the pavement maintenance industry by creating a brand and culture that creates enjoyment and job satisfaction for team members at the company. “We invest in our team,” says Estrada. “We offer health care, 401K and bonuses. It really boils down to you’re only as strong as your weakest link, Marathon spends a lot of time supporting its team members and this helps to create our strong company culture.”
Estrada also uses another technique to ramp up production.
“I created a fun way to help our team members find the energy to finish projects,” says Estrada. “@Captn_Striper was created as an alter-ego of sorts to finish a late-night job with a positive message and on a high energy note. This eventually evolved into social media where I would put on the green glasses and showcase our jobs with pictures and video.”
Over the past 15 years Marathon has embraced an evolving company culture and industry with the help of technology and hard work resulting in satisfied clients and happy team members.