published Friday, January 4th, 2013

Small Biz: Pair uses green tech to clean cars

Beau Gilliland works on a vehicle at Chattanooga Detail, the business he operates in Red Bank with co-owner David Hopkins.
Beau Gilliland works on a vehicle at Chattanooga Detail, the business he operates in Red Bank with co-owner David Hopkins.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Name: Chattanooga Detail

Location: 1944 Dayton Blvd., Red Bank

Products/services: The company offers packages from an exterior hand wash for $12 up to what it calls "ultimate ShowCar detail" for $350 that cleans every inch of very large vehicles. For no extra charge, they'll pick a car or group of cars up from any parking lot in the city, detail the vehicle and return it before the end of the day. Workers use a commercial steam cleaner to eliminate stains, dirt and germs from the inside without a chemical smell. They say that the equipment, which cost thousands to purchase, gives them a green edge.

Age: Founded in June 2012 by co-owners David Hopkins and Beau Gilliland, both of whom graduated from UTC's business school.

Startup investment: $20,000.

Projected annual sales: $250,000.

Target market: Car detailing is popular with car lovers, business executives and busy people, and is increasing in popularity with women, owners say.

Biggest hurdle: While anyone can set up a business, it's sometimes difficult to reach out to customers and tell them how the new business is better than existing options.

Biggest reward: "It's building something of value, and having the ability to make an impact in the community," said Hopkins.

Challenges in the future: While the co-owners have a financial stake in the well-being of the company, future employees won't, and will have to be trained to maintain the same quality standards when the business expands.

Lesson learned: "When you start out, you always want to over-budget and over-plan financially, because otherwise it can be detrimental to the cash on hand -- and cash is king," Hopkins said.

Five-year goal: Hopkins and Gilliland hope to expand the current location to its full capacity of 12 full details per day, hire a half-dozen workers and prepare to open additional locations.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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