Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In today’s installment of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about Charles Bonfiglio, who gives us an inside look at his path from car stereo sales to CEO of Tint World.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry at around 20 years old was Car Stereo Sales & Installations for a short period of time until I opened up a Meineke Car Care Center franchise.
What do you like best about your current position?
[The best thing] about my current position as CEO of the Tint World franchise is that I help new franchisees that come into the system in the automotive industry and I help them with my 30 years of experience of running auto service centers. It helps raise their level of success much faster than it took me to do it. That’s my biggest enjoyment of what I do right now.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the industry?
Yes. Coming from Brooklyn, I worked with my parents in their clothing factory through my teenage years. When I moved, I planned on coming down to Florida and opening up a car stereo, tint and accessory center. That was in the early 80s.
So I moved down to do that and wound up working the first job in Florida as a car stereo, sales and installation person. I was trying to open up my own store and then I found franchising, and through franchising it gave me a path. I didn’t open exactly what I wanted at first – at first it was the Meineke shop and then being an area developer in Florida for Meineke – but it gave me a pathway to do things a lot quicker with a business system that was successful. At that time, even today, the car stereo and window tinting and accessory industry is a niche and fragmented market so, even though I knew quite a bit about it, it helped me to have a franchise backing the system that would allow me to evolve and grow a lot faster. That was how I got into it… and here we are, more than 30 years later, not only owning one location, but a franchise system that’s in four countries with more than 60 locations – and growing – to basically do what I actually came down here to do. It’s really exciting to me to be able to get to where I am through the road of franchising and coming down to Florida with the first plan of being in this business I’m in right now.
What do you do when not at work?
I enjoy a lot of time with my family, whether it’s spending time at dinner or going to outings or family events. My wife, and two kids – they’re both teenagers, with my daughter’s just starting college and my son’s in high school – we travel and go to different areas and have a good time.
During those good times, a lot of what I’m thinking about is in all the businesses that I’m seeing, even if we’re in different industries, how do I use some of these ideas to improve my business when I get back to work? That’s what my mind is usually on when I’m having a good time with my family. When I’m not working, I’m thinking about what I can do to work but also making sure that I’m paying attention and enjoying my life with my family.
What’s one word that best sums up your personality?
You know, it’s a coincidence that it fits in with the industry I’m working in, but the word is: Driven.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic – it was a really nice car and I loved it. It was black with a red interior and a sun roof. It was only a few years old when I got it and I was really happy to have that car.
Who was your childhood hero?
Honestly, it was my dad. He inspired me to grow in life and in business.
If you could time travel, to where and what era would you want to visit?
I believe I would be in the early 1900s and be a part of the men who built America. The main people who built the country: Ford, J. P. Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie. Those guys built America really quickly to be the best, and I would have liked to be around and part of doing that. It really inspires me.