Perma-Ceram can make that old bath tub look brand new

Myron Dissin has spent nearly half his life in bathtubs. About 18,000 bathtubs. Well, not exactly in

them. More like on them. Actually, it’s what he puts on them. Dissin makes his living refinishing old bathtubs, making them look like new.

“Since I started the business 27 years ago,” Dissin said, doing some fast calculations, “I’d estimate that I’ve refinished an average of 1,000 tubs per year.”

His Havertown company, Perma-Ceram, Inc., which began as a moonlighting operation, now employs three refinishers who are kept busy restoring tired and worn out tubs at the rate of 20 per week. In addition to tubs, the firm works its resurfacing magic on tile walls to give them a sparkling, new finish in any color.

According to Dissin, bathtub restoration was going on long before he got into the business. Right after World War II, the grand old Atlantic City hotels were using the technique to spruce up their bathrooms. They did it out of economic necessity since it was far less costly than replacing the tubs and it didn’t necessitate taking guest rooms out of service for days.

Dissin was a regional manager for a string of Panelrama Home Centers, a now defunct do-it-yourself handyman chain, when he formed his company in 1970. He began it as a part time venture but gave up his managerial job in 1978 and went full-time into bathtub revitalization.

Dissin said 95 percent of his business is residential, although he does have some large institutional customers such as Hahnemann University, where he did over 500 tubs over a three year span. He’s also done work for other area colleges Villanova, Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore and Rosemont.

Customers can choose from 86 different stock colors for the tiles and tubs. Or, if they want to match the color of wallpaper, Dissin can custom blend an exact match.