Newspaper Article from the Conneaut Courier, Wednesday 8 December 2004.

CUTLINE: Robert Streeter, Conneaut entrepreneur, is preparing to open his fourth business venture in the city since 2002. Streeter is also the creator and host of the city's website, www.conneaut.net, donated at no cost.

CUTLINE: Robert Streeter's most successful venture, Ad Tech, is housed in a former food market on E. Main Road. "If they say it can't be done here, they aren't seeing Conneaut," he says of the local business climate.

CUTLINE:  Tan Tropics, which opened in July at Broad & Jackson Streets, offers a month of unlimited tanning for $12.95. "If you walk in, it will stun you," says Streeter of its South Seas environment. "It's like a mini-vacation."

CUTLINE: Sparkle Kleen, 367 State St., offers full-service auto maintenance and roadside assistance. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday. You can even order service online at www.sparklekleen.net

Robert Streeter Brings the World to Conneaut

AdTech's surveillance systems used worldwide

by MARTHA SOROHAN

Gazette Newspapers

CONNEAUT - From his modest corporate office on East Main Street, entrepreneur Robert Streeter has a view of the whole world. Or at least segments of it.  With just a click of the mouse, Streeter's surveillance firm, Ad Tech, provides him with computer screen images from surveillance cameras that peek into elevators, apartment lobbies, Navy ships, Army tanks, airports and other settings all over the world.

"AdTech systems are used everywhere, except for nuclear subs," said Streeter.

AdTech is the first of three businesses Streeter has started in Conneaut in less than three years. His second is "Tan Tropics," at 381 Broad Street.  Streeter and his wife Judy transformed the former Video Dock store into a tropical tanning paradise and opened it last July.

And a few blocks west, at 367 State Street, Streeter has converted a former gas station into Sparkle Kleen, a one-stop quick lube, car wash and full-service automotive center. It opened in October.

Streeter, born in Ticonderoga, N.Y., came to Conneaut via Judith Dixon, an area native working at Ashtabula Rubber when they met. Before they wed, he commuted to Conneaut weekends to see her.  They married halfway between Plattsburgh and Conneaut in Verona, N.Y., where Streeter had relatives. Though Dixon had agreed to move to Plattsburg after the wedding, Streeter decided to come to Ohio instead. A newspaper advertising manager in Plattsburg, Streeter found a job in management with the Erie Times.

But Streeter's true passion was electronics.

"I was intrigued with electronics," explained Streeter, who, without a single course in TV repair, had fixed TVs as a teen-ager.  "I used CB radios and built my own transmitters. "

A broadcast engineer with a degree in electrical engineering, Streeter built radio and TV systems in the 1970s.  He was the chief engineer of the project that converted Honolulu's KGMB-TV broadcasting system from black-and-white to color in 1975.

In 1994, Streeter turned his fascination with electronics to computers. A small computer business he began on the side grew quickly and proved to be so much fun that he quit his newspaper job.

Then things came to a halt.  By 2002, Streeter--whose wife had quit Ashtabula Rubber in 1993-- was in financial trouble.

"My attorney had the papers drawn up to file bankruptcy," he said, "but at the last minute, I decided that with perseverance and patience, I could get myself out," he said.

The need for greater security measures worldwide since 9/11 prompted Streeter to design and build surveillance systems. He started ADTECH down the street from his home what was formerly Johnny's Old Market on E. Main Road.

"I had never done surveillance systems per se, but I knew I could," Streeter says.

Streeter's determination paid off. After spending 18 hours a day every day, Streeter turned ADTECH into a winner.

"The success of ADTECH eclipsed my ability to do it alone," he said. Sales this year are up 229 percent over last year, and profits are up 135 percent. Streeter sells to 149 dealers who buy his Conneaut-made systems wholesale, and resell and install them.

Once ADTECH was on firm footing, Streeter bought two other local businesses, using his wife's talent for decorating and interior design to turn them into exciting environments.

"Judy turned Tan Tropics into a tropical paradise," he said. "White stone outside gives the look and feel of sand and inside, each tanning booth looks like a tropical hut.  There is nothing like it between here and Erie."

Judy will use a NASCAR theme when she tackles the interior of Streeter's newest venture, Sparkle Kleen, which opened in October.

"Sparkle Kleen is a full service center, with emphasis on service," Streeter said. "Other businesses here provide pieces of auto services, but no one does it all. We provide all but wrecker service, but we can arrange that, too." 

Sparkle Kleen provides extras not available at other local car washes.

We do full interior and exterior detail. A hand wash and hand dry is $12.95. Our $29.95 oil change features 11 services with cleaning exterior windows and interior vacuum, plus free pick-up and delivery. Everything can be ordered on line."

Streeter's business philosophy is that by giving people extras, they feel special.

"I treat customers the way I want to be treated. Treat people well and they will treat you richly," he said.

Equally important in Streeter's success is his ability to think outside the box.

"Look beyond the obvious," said Streeter, an admitted opportunist. "When we started our tanning salon, it would've been easy to rent beds and nothing more, but we wanted to be long-term players. Today we have three times as many customers as Video Dock's tanning salon had a year ago."

Streeter believes that Conneaut has tremendous potential.

"It's a buyer's market," he said. "It's Marketing 101--offer dynamic service at a fair price and you can't help but be successful."

Streeter's commitment to Conneaut is obvious. 

"We are long-term players," he said. "Our investment in the community in terms of jobs and market revenue will show up taxes and enhance the value of the city."

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