By Luca Gross
Nathan Petro is a sophomore majoring in public relations and entrepreneurship spends the warmer months detailing.
He runs his own business and has called it “Miyagi Approved Detailing.”
Petro did not add the entrepreneurship major until spring semester of 2021, after he had started his detailing business, but his experience with cleaning cars began much earlier.
“Probably four years ago, I started,” Petro said. “My dad works at a body shop and they were one guy short for a little bit. So for about a couple months, I was working there.”
It was working at his father’s auto body shop that exposed Petro to what it means to have a clean car.
“I guess just seeing other clean cars influenced me,” Petro said. “Obviously, having a clean car is nice. So how could I do this and make it perfect for myself and for others?”
When COVID-19 began, Petro found himself cleaning his car constantly as he felt he had nothing else to do. On a neighbor’s birthday, Petro surprised him with two completely cleaned cars.
“My neighbor was like ‘Hey did you clean my cars? Good job,” Petro said.
The same neighbor posted the work Petro did on his cars to Facebook. This convinced Petro to start his own business.
“From there, it really took off,” Petro said. “I advertised it a few times to neighbors, friends and friends of friends. Suddenly random people started hitting me up.”
A typical detailing for Petro begins with a quick rinse of the car. Foam cannons are then used to spray the exterior with snow foam, to pull dirt and other debris away from the finish. A hand scrubber is used for a contact wash before foaming it up and rinsing it again. The next step is the clay bar, a method of removing any contamination from the surface of the car. Petro then machine polishes out any blemishes in the paint and rubs off the compound left behind before a sealant is applied to protect the paint.
“Detailing is much different from just going to a carwash, you get all the details, there’s nothing left out,” Petro said.
As he combs hard to reach spaces inside vehicles, Petro has had to clean up some interesting things.
“There were a bunch of French fries under the seat one time and they all grew mold,” Petro said. “Oh, and somebody’s carpet was growing grass.”
During the winter months, Petro closes shop. “Usually during the winter I’m pretty dormant with my stuff, unless I wash my own car at the body shop. I’ve made it known that I’m more of an April to November kind of business,” Petro said.
What started as a hobby has quickly become his dream. Petro plans on maneuvering away from a basic clean plus add-ons, to a more varied package deal selection for customers to choose from. Inspired by “The Karate Kid,” Petro plans on naming the packages after the different color karate belts are earned.
“Instead of having to remember a bunch of add-ons, it would be five different things that they can choose from: a black belt package, blue belt package, a green belt and yellow belt, because it’s, you know, Miyagi Approved,” Petro said.
Petro has no shortage of goals when it comes to his business. With the money he aims to save up, he plans on buying a truck to hold more equipment and allow him to provide mobile services.
“In the future, I would probably move down somewhere warm, somewhere I could do this all year,” Petro said.