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Beating corrosion Woody’s way

The maker of Woody Wax concocted the formula to help protect his aluminum tower from sun and salt

The year was 1997 and John “Woody” Cronin was not happy.

His Venture 34 center-console sportfisherman was just 18 months old, yet the anodized aluminum control tower was already showing the ugly, corrosive effects of the harsh coastal Florida marine environment.

“Salt can get into anodizing and break through it to create a pinhole in the metal,” said Cronin, a 41-year-old Jupiter, Fla., resident. “As soon as the salt contacts aluminum, it starts to corrode and the hole gets bigger and you get a mushroom of corrosion.”

Cronin, who owns a heavy-equipment excavation company, knew he had to do something to arrest the deterioration and protect his investment.

“I tried everything on the market and nothing worked,” he said.

So he decided to fabricate his own formula.

“I set out to make something better,” said Cronin, a backyard chemist during his childhood. “I started experimenting and put together a formula in a five-gallon bucket.”

Thus was born Woody Wax, a wipe-on, wipe-off product that Cronin says disintegrates oxidation, corrosion and water spots, while providing protection from sun and salt.

“It actually stops corrosion,” he said. “It removes oxidation off the pit and seals it with a corrosion blocker that penetrates into that hole.”

Cronin tested the product on his boat and let friends sample it as well. He also discovered it made a great wax for nonskid decks. “I even gave it to the tower manufacturer,” he said. “They said they never saw anything like it before.”

Key to the recipe, according to Cronin, is incorporation of a corrosion blocker that is compatible with waxes.

“The formula is actually a blend of several different waxes,” he said.

“It’s easy to use. Just apply it, let it sit for a half-hour and wipe it off.

Cronin then succumbed to the cajoling of friends to market the product. “I thought it would be neat, because I’d get to go to fishing tournaments and boat shows,” Cronin recalled. Cronin initiated marketing efforts in June 2000, but under a different name.

“I came up with ‘Tower Plus 2000’ since you can use it on your tower, fiberglass and even electronics,” he said. “I figured it was the ‘Glass Plus’ of the boating world.”

But that original label was short-lived.

At Cronin’s July 2000 wedding, the reception featured sample bottles of Tower Plus 2000 among favors for invited guests. During his toast to the bride and groom, a friend suggested another name. “He makes this stuff called Tower something, but he needs to call it Woody Wax,” the toast-giver encouraged. “I shook my head and said, ‘There’s no way I’m calling this stuff Woody Wax,’ “ Cronin reminisced. But the toast-giver and other cohorts, two who are marketers, refused to back down.

“There’s no way we’re letting you put it on the market without calling it Woody Wax,” his friends retorted.

A portion of Cronin’s honeymoon was spent traveling down the eastern U.S. seaboard introducing Woody Wax to the marine industry. “Those were the first sales of Woody Wax,” he said. “We talked to mom-and-pop stores and anyone who would listen.”

Today, Cronin’s product line extends well beyond his original formula. There’s a metal sealant system as well as a new hull and topside wax. Both products tout six months of protection. A boat wash, compounding agent and engine flush kit branched off from the formula.

But perhaps the most innovative is a just-introduced wax applicator dubbed the Woody Wax ‘R.’ The unit, which uses disposable shop towels, fits on an electric drill, provides nine different buffing jigs and offers results for DIYers that approach professional polishers, Cronin said.

A kit includes all accessories, a roll of shop towels and even safety glasses.

The business has grown dramatically from a part-time endeavor. Consumer product availability extends to national chains such as West Marine and Boater’s World, as well as direct sales from the company.

“I am now full-time Woody Wax and full-time excavation,” he said. “The guys working in excavation were there at the beginning. When I need them [for Woody Wax], I pull them out of dump trucks and front-end loaders.”

Cronin’s products are not inexpensive. A 16-ounce bottle of Woody Wax runs about $26.

“There’s nothing else on the market like it,” he said, citing the higher cost of his raw materials. “The product works so much better and the end result is so much better, it’s worth the extra money.”

Using copious amounts of fresh water during day’s-end washing is the prime advice Cronin preaches for boat maintenance.

“Wash the boat down and let it sit for five minutes,” he said. “Then re-rinse it and don’t be afraid to rinse it again. Getting salt off metalwork is the most important thing you can do.”

Cronin says to pay special attention where canvas coverings lay over metal supports.

“All it takes is one time leaving salt on there,” he said. “The moisture in the air will convert that salt back into a liquid and then back into a solid when the sun comes out. That will destroy a tower faster than anything.”

Cronin advises removing water spots with a chamois and, of course, keep some Woody Wax on it.

“It’s the easiest product in the world to use,” he said.

Phone: (800) 619-4363.