Marin SBDCSan Rafael, CA

“The SBDC helped me understand how to value my business and review my financials so I could bring on a partner and buy a building to double my business capacity. If it were not for the SBDC, I might not have gotten the $1M loan and expanded my business in the way I wanted to.”

David Ball

APEX Motorwerks is a mom and pop auto repair shop that provides comprehensive Mercedes-Benz maintenance and inspection services, using Mercedes-Benz checklists and factory approved service products.

At APEX, clients work directly with the owner of the company, David Ball and there are no middlemen, no commissioned service advisors and no overselling.

Dave Ball is a three-time Master Guild Technician, which is Mercedes-Benz’s highest technical achievement, awarded to the top 1% as tested annually, and five time Master Technician (top 10%).He is a recertified ASE Master Automobile technician, ASE certified Service Advisor, and a sponsoring member of the International Automotive Technicians Network, a worldwide group of 50,000+ professional technicians who brainstorm to help each other find solutions.

Their motto is “Never charge a customer something you wouldn’t charge a friend for” (Carl Sewell)

Dave started in 2007 by answering a Craigslist ad entitled “Shop Space to Share”. He fortuitously found the perfect location with a well-known Marin auto repair colleague, Steve. His business steadily grew and before he knew it, the current space was too small. He then rented another space, but soon that became too small. Steve helped him find the current location.

At that same time, Dave was also in negotiations to bring on a partner in the business, but needed financing to purchase the new auto repair shop location and to figure out how to value the business to bring in his partner Bert.

In April of 2013, Dave came to the SBDC to get guidance on purchasing the new building and partnership arrangements. Dave and Bert took classes from SBDC Advisor John DeGaetano, and shortly after started working with him. Together, they created a 4 year equity sharing structure for the business and laid out a way for Dave to purchase the building. John assisted Dave in preparing his paperwork to get a loan and reviewing the financials of the business. John gave feedback and caught anomalies that could be corrected in the financials.

Looking back on the business now, Dave realizes 3 important actions that made his business successful: he sold his services at a fair price, he made sure he had appropriate amount of inventory at any given time and he sought advice when he needed to take bigger risks in order to grow the business.


  • Secured a $999,000 loan to purchase the building of his current auto shop
  • Brought on a partner at the right time that helped him expand his business
  • Increased sales by over $200,000 at the new location
  • Hired 1 full time and 1 part time person

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.