Wayne Waddington, owner and operator of WrapGrafix, is a service-disabled United States Navy Veteran. Waddington joined the Navy in 1995 and became an aviation electrician, he spent most of his career working on helicopters. He was deployed many times during his 20-year long career. He retired in 2015 knowing he didn’t want to work for anybody else.
“I really didn’t want to go into corporate work for anybody. I decided to go out and venture and do it myself,” he said.
In 2012, Waddington began cutting vinyl automotive decals for himself and friends.
“As I was preparing to retire I was doing quite a bit of decals. It was something that I said, ‘this is what I want to do,” he said. “I decided why not just add a little more to it and dive head in and do entire vehicle wraps.”
Initially, Waddington hoped to be a part of the automotive aftermarket parts community.
“The market is completely saturated with companies trying to sell aftermarket parts,” he said. “I said, maybe I can make my own decals through my own company instead.”
Waddington decided to market his skills. He created WrapGrafix, a company based out of Lakeside, California specializing in vehicle wraps, car paint protection, window decals, and vinyl advertising.
The VA Accelerator program, created to assist disabled veterans in establishing their own company or to grow their existing business, helped him do it. The program offered physical support and guidance, and assisted Waddington with the necessary steps to launch a new business.
The direction of his business stemmed from a demand he noticed for his skill set in completely transforming the look of any vehicle, Waddington said. He recognized companies wanting to create advertising billboards with their commercial vehicles, and other customers who want to apply a color change to their privately-owned car. The more research he did, the more his business and target-customer base grew.
“Initially my target was the off-roading community, but as I did more research I saw companies with fleet vehicles and people wanting to change the appearance of their car,” he said. “It evolved into many different paths within the industry.”
Waddington said he did an extensive amount of research on the entire automotive wrap market. The Accelerator Program helped him to place his findings into a comprehensive business plan that included a business concept and structure, potential obstacles, operational strategies, marketplace evaluation, projected operating expenses, forecasts for sales, and more.
“The VA Accelerator Program is great. It does take a lot of dedication. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it,” he said. “I would recommend it to any veteran looking to start a business.”
Waddington started his self-employment track through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program provided by the Veterans Affairs. There, disabled veterans receive “services to help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development, and job-seeking skills coaching,” according to the program’s website. The VA also connected him with SCORE, a non-profit association where retired volunteer executives offer tips of the trade to new business owners.
Currently, WrapGrafix is listed as a sole proprietorship and Waddington is looking forward to a successful future. He hopes to raise enough capital to have a store front for his business one day, and contract freelance graphic designers. Waddington is also working on social media platforms for the company.
Waddington’s contact information and a list of services he provides are available on the company’s website, www.wrapgrafix.com.
“In the end, the persistence of going for it worked out.”
The VA Accelerator Program (www.vaaccelerator.com) is the Department of Veterans Affairs innovation to help Veterans in all phases of entrepreneurship, from initial self-assessment and business plan preparation through the launch and growth of successful businesses. The VA Accelerator Program is currently in the process of raising capital to be able to give back to more veterans. If you are interested in helping with this process, you can directly visit the campaign page at www.aboutgiving.org.