Maaco Peoria Owner Finds Dream Job

By Ruth Bertram, Journalism Intern, Illinois Small Business Development Center, Bradley University

From 15 years old, painting his grandmother's 1967 Plymouth Valiant in Albany, NY, to running a successful branch of the Maaco franchise in Peoria, IL Bob Pohl has earned the title ‘a successful businessman.’

With degrees in Industrial Labor Relations and English from Potsdam State College in N.Y. and an MBA from the University of Albany, Pohl decided to move from the Big Apple to central Illinois for a job as the director of sales for a local company.

However, as a result of an economic down turn, in 2011 Pohl was laid off from his job. MAACO sign

Considering himself too young to retire even though the job market was extremely tough, Pohl thought to himself, “If no one will hire me, I have to hire myself.”       

With a life time passion for cars, Pohl found that the original owner of Maaco Peoria, an automotive body repair shop that was founded in 1974, was looking to retire.

Maaco Peoria’s work consists of body repairs of collision vehicles, trade and fleet vehicle repairs, and the restoration of antique automobiles. 

On June 13, 2012 Pohl became the owner of Maaco Peoria.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Pohl when describing the change in his career path. 

Originally from New York, Pohl was unfamiliar with the Illinois business laws and wasn’t quite sure where to begin. That's when Pohl began working with the Illinois Small Business Development Center [SBDC] where he received assistance with obtaining financing and a creating a business strategy.

Since the assistance from the SBDC, Pohl has not only expanded by number of employees but also achieved several business accomplishments.

According to Pohl, since his arrival, he has increased Maaco Peoria’s sales volume by 5 times within his 3rd year of business.

In addition to their financial success, Maaco Peoria has been awarded the Peoria Journal Star’s 2016 and 2017 Best of the Best Peoria Original People's Choice Awards for the best paint and body shop, and has be nominated for the 2018 poll, as well as several national awards from Maaco corporate.Trophy

While reflecting on his time spent with SBDC advisors, Pohl states, “They were a huge help. I didn’t know what I needed to do to start a business.”

From his time of struggle to his tremendous business accomplishments, Pohl encourages new business entrepreneurs to do the unthinkable.

“Don’t be afraid to do it,” said Pohl. “I wish I had done this 20 years ago.”

To find out more information, or to contact Maaco Peoria, you can visit their website at and enter the location as Peoria Illinois, or you can find them on Facebook@Maaco.of.Peoria.