Newspaper Article from the
Conneaut Courier, Wednesday 8 December 2004.
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.
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.
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
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
Streeter Brings the World to Conneaut
surveillance systems used worldwide
by MARTHA SOROHAN
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.
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
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. "
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.
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
"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."
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."
business philosophy is that by giving people extras, they feel special.
customers the way I want to be treated. Treat people well and they will
treat you richly," he said.
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."
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."
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."