Story: From The Beginning With Brian Guy
How I came about into adulthood with a passion for my obsessed problem and how I got involved into a career of car care.
I grew up on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland with a single mother who raised my younger brother and I. I wasn’t very good with school to be honest but loved playing sports, namely baseball. I convinced myself at the age of 13 that I was going to play pro ball for the Orioles. I was always a first draft pick for a short stop position in the in-house and travel leagues. (I usually played for 3 teams at a time) At age 14, I was playing travel leagues with 16-18 year old’s and received an invite to the Orioles spring training camp when I become of age. (My mother still has the letter) Then one day tragedy hit. Without all the details, I was shot in my left eye with a B.B. gun, permanently damaging my vision. (I have a detached retina and only have slight peripheral vision, looking center is a black hole still to this day) With all the visits to John Hopkins, my ball playing was on hold for a while. As I started to get back into it, I struggled with my depth perception and started taking hoppers and ground balls to the face and body. After months of practicing I became so frustrated with my performance, and I quite, sad to say.
Life at this point fell apart for me. My mom married, I started hanging with friends and ultimately made bad choices. I was raised with a lot values nonetheless. God, work ethic, being responsible for my actions etc. Coming up on the age of 16, I wanted nothing more than my own freedom and did everything possible to gain my drivers license that day. I worked summers doing landscaping at age 14-15 to pay for that freedom, knowing it meant a lot to me. My first car was an 82 Mercury Capri with a 4 speed transmission and a 302 block, handed down to me by my uncle. The car was a death trap and to this day I don’t know what my parents were thinking in allowing this to be an “OK” first vehicle for a beginner driver. My step father put the car down at the bottom of a grassy hill in the front yard and told me if I could get it up the hill without messing the yard up, he’d take me to get my license. I had to walk to the gas station with a gas can in hand once… After several attempts, I made it and got my license. I enjoyed the freedom and nearly killed myself several times but I didn’t care, I was reckless and learned how to drive with that machine. I worked on that car more than I drove it, it felt. (Head gaskets, u-joints, rear end, motor mounts etc) I started falling in love with cars and how they operate. My step father was extremely helpful but also taught me to do it myself, with everything in life. I drove that car for almost a year and then found a car that was more reliable. At age 17 I was driving a 5.7 liter “88” IROC-Z with a posi rear end, headers and other goodies. I picked it up in perfect driving condition. Boy was I hot head at school then. Anyways… made lots of bad choices, drove like I owned the road and worked hard to buy more tires. As far as my future, I was however in the ROTC program while in high school thinking I’m just going to join the service afterwards. Once I graduated my recruiter tried everything in his power to find me decent position in the military. Due to my vision, my list of options were short. Cooking, MP… not how I wanted to live my life. At this point in my life I had nothing to look forward to except driving my car and hanging with friends. Lost…
Fast forwarding this story some, I found myself living in south Florida. I had to sell my car because the cost of INS. was much higher in the state of FL and I had to many points on my record. I picked up a brand new “98” S10 and got to work on it. The low rider thing was really in around that time. I dropped it, bagged it and custom did the interior to help make myself feel better about driving a 4-banger. Got involved with some West Palm Beach car clubs etc. My life was still feeling lost in the job department. When I first moved to FL I was building mausoleums, poring concrete and tying steel. I did that for about a year, looked at the guy working next to me and said, “no way.” Don’t want to end up like that. I then found myself working for Boat US in North Miami, and really enjoyed that job. I got to help with the launch of 3 new locations in the south FL area and felt some worth over the 2 years I was with them. (Growing up in Maryland, we did a lot of boating on the Chesapeake. Detailing for me kinda started with boats. Every time my brothers and I would get in trouble we would have to clean them)
I was always one to take care of myself growing up. I never wanted any free hand outs. Everything I got, cars etc. I earned myself. I was basically moved out before I graduate high school. I still had no future set in place. (At least that’s how I felt) Talking with my parents we decided maybe I should go back to school. I enrolled into the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale in my early 20’s with the agreement I could move back in with them. With going to school I found myself working a part time job at a Restaurant, The Cove, in Deerfield Beach. School and working in the kitchen was how spent the next few years. Before I was done with school I was able to work myself out of the parents house. Again, the freedom has always meant a lot.
Speeding up the story again, I never did anything with what I gained from the Art Institute (Graphic Design) until several years later. I worked in that kitchen as a line cook for nearly 5 years before it hit me. What am I doing? (I did meet my wife there)
Okay, so this is the part where I would usually start my story and the part that has the most meaning to me. I quit working at the restaurant and moved to Orlando, to start a better life for myself. I had to get out of the south FL mentality.
I started a mobile detailing business and had a lot of troubles from the start. “It wasn’t easy.” Social Media was still none existent and gathering information to learn from was few and far between. I struggled in the beginning in finding customers and the pay was nowhere near what it is in today’s market, especially for a beginner. I found myself applying at a restaurant from time to time to make ends meet. I remember I was working at Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney while thinking of ways to make my business work. I flipped my last piece of chicken at that restaurant. I dropped my tongs and yelled to the chef, “I quit” an walked out. I was determined to make it work at that point.
I few weeks later I got a contract with a class A business park housing many reputable corporate companies. (Wyndham, Starwood, Hilton, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, KB Home and many more) I had to get insurance for that to happen. The contract was set with Flaggler Development, property management and I was now able to market myself to all these companies and work on site. I had no idea what I was doing in the start to be honest. I had never marketed myself before. My marketing career started by staying committed to the location, showing up before everyone entered in the morning and being there everyday. It took, “what like like forever,” before it really got going. Some-day’s I would sit in that parking lot all day and not get a single car. I bought a tent to get visibility, a-frames etc. To be honest, It was terrible from the start and I lacked loads of visual professionalism. My unit was ugly, my supplies were Walmart bought and I quickly realized, cleaning other peoples cars was nowhere near as easy as cleaning my own.
My commitment is what made it work. The groups of people I was catering to is what made it successful. Something as simple as watching a CEO getting out of his/her car in the morning, entering into the work place with motivation, drive and the need to be excellent on a daily basis taught me so much. These are the type of people I can admire in a work environment. These are the people I would aspire to be like. This is where I want to be! I valued each and every conversation I had with them over the years. And more so, they found value in me. It felt so good to be needed to this degree and is ultimately how I fell in love with detailing. I’ve always loved cars, yes. But the feeling of having a desirable service/business was the blessing I’ve been looking for all these years. I never woke up in the morning thinking about the cars I was going to be working on. I would wake up seeing the customers face in my head and I couldn’t let them down. A few of these people are still very good friends of mine today.
I built up an amazing business in those consolidated parking lots. I started weak and by myself. Over the course of 7 years I had built up to having 3 beautiful trucks, trailers and even a custom painted golf cart for shuttling. My company was doing around 20 to 30 cars a day, sometimes more, 6 days a week, sun up to sun down. I had all my employees wearing matching uniforms and over those years had gone through 347 people. It’s hard keeping people committed when working on the asphalt in the hot Florida sun all day. I had to lead by example and always worked harder than anyone. Every now and then I would find a good employee, but the good ones don’t stick around long.
Over those years I started to gain a lot of experience and was making plenty of money. Somewhere in between there my wife and I had our first two kids. (2 boys) This motivated me even more but I was beginning to become UN-satisfied with the work we were completing. Simple & basic inside and out services but the customers loved it. I started educating myself in doing “better” quality jobs with a few customers here and there on the side. Around this time social media started to kick in and I was also sponsoring some forums to document my work. I started seeing more value in being a Detailer, so I gave my guys 6 months notice. I was shutting down my operation to focus on my learning curve and go out on my own. I sold everything and started to bounce around the state looking for customers willing to pay the premium and also gained enough support that brought me to some really cool cars to work on. Around this time I started working with Swissvax USA and I was at an all time high with a work ethic, I couldn’t be stopped. I was loving detailing more than ever, working with brands I never thought possible. Detailing products started showing up at my door left and right and I felt as though I always had first hand knowledge of what was going to be the next best thing. I’ve now been working in the real deal professional aspect of detailing for nearly ten years now. I still love learning and think that is part of the excitement in the career. It’s a never ending practice and the detailing industry has been excelling super fast over the last 6-7 years or so. It’s been amazing to witness and not just for myself but also everyone else around me, by achieving a dream that was near impossible ten plus years ago.
To sum this up, I’ve had an amazing run and have detailed some of the worlds most amazing machines. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some rare vehicles that most people will never get a chance to in a life time. I’ve been half way around the world and have connected with people all around the world in the name of “car washing” who would’ve thought I think every single day is an opportunity and also a moment to embrace. If you’re ever struggling in the moments of life but you know that your heart and mind is in the right place, you have that drive to succeed. You’ve already won. It’s just a matter of putting in your time and learning through each day.
I still have much to learn myself. Life took me into to cancer treatment in 2016 and I thought my dreams were crushed. I’ve just learned that new opportunities are in front of me now and I have new obstacles to hurdle. I’m looking forward to what the future hold for my family and I.
Thank You For Reading!