By Kurt Batdorf SCBJ Editor
Austin Everett was following an educational path in aircraft maintenance when he started crunching numbers on what he figured he’d earn after he graduated.
He didn’t like what he saw.
So Everett, now 23, consulted with his father, Mel, administrator of Bethany at Silver Lake in Everett. Everett said he learned from his father how to care of their own vehicles. While Austin Everett studied his options, Mel Everett, 58, drew on his love of cars and started looking online for something he and his son could do together. Mel Everett found the Detailing Pros in Huntington Beach, Calif., and their eco-friendly program of waterless car washing.
Austin Everett recalled the time he got a call from the City of Edmonds after someone reported him washing his car and allowing the soapy runoff to flow into a storm drain.
With that episode in his mind, Everett liked the idea of merging his love of cars with a venture virtually unheard of in Snohomish County, so he and his dad each paid about $2,000 to take the Detailing Pros’ certificate program and learned how to run their own business washing and detailing vehicles without the traditional hose and bucket.
Waterless car washing is becoming popular in coastal areas and drought-prone areas where municipalities are trying to protect water quality by limiting runoff, he said.
“This is definitely a new thing in this area,” Austin Everett said.
He seems to be right. There appears to be only one other waterless mobile detailing operation in Snohomish County, CJ’s Mobile Wash and Wax.
Everett said he dropped out of Big Bend Community College’s aviation program when he was about three-quarters done and hasn’t looked back at the college in Moses Lake.
Everett is now the owner-operator of Mobile Excellence LLC while Mel Austin is silent partner who financed the startup costs of the venture.
“I’m trying to be as green as possible,” Austin Everett said.
But how do you wash a car without soap and water?
Truth be told, there is some water used in “waterless” car washing, Everett said. However, it’s used only to mix the polymer-based cleaning solution he sprays onto the customer’s vehicle and wipes off with a microfiber towel.
Without the need for bulky hoses and buckets, Everett manages to fit all of his detailing supplies neatly into the cargo hold of his compact Jeep Liberty SUV so that he can go to customers.
He started his business in September, admitting now that the onset of typically dreary Pacific Northwest fall and winter weather wasn’t the ideal time to start a car detailing business. But Everett remains undaunted, confident that the novelty of waterless car detailing will catch on in Snohomish County.
Everett charges $40 for a basic exterior wash, which includes the windows, wheels and shining the tires. His “full-meal deal” costs $350 and takes four hours. On the outside, that means a wash, a clay-bar treatment that removes paint surface contaminants, a buff polish with a sealant or wax and haze removal from composite plastic headlight lenses. On the inside, it means a complete cleaning and surface treatment of the vehicle’s interior, spot removal with a steam cleaner, shampooing the carpets and treating fabrics with a product called Strike Force.
To get rid of funky smells, Everett uses a small box called the Ozinator that takes about 40 minutes to effectively remove odors.
Since Everett carries all of his gear in his Jeep, he said he’s been doing a fair amount of work for customers while their cars are parked where they work. And that seems to be fine with the employers, since Everett doesn’t need access to water or power since he has his own small generator to run the vacuum and steam cleaner.
While Everett says business has been slower than he’d like, he hopes to gain used-car dealers as customers. He said he has approached new-car dealers, but most of them already offer their own detailing services.
“I thought this was a good niche for Washington,” he said. “None of the other (stationary) detailers are waterless.”
Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To schedule an appointment with Mobile Excellence, call Austin Everett at 425-582-1346 or email email@example.com.