Love affair with cars runs deep at Detail Garage
A Rides & Coffee event in Swansea, Massachusetts, which owners Andrew and Gary Sousa say attracts “high exotics to daily drivers.”
Jammie Costello, owner of a Detail Garage retail store in Glen Burnie, Maryland, can’t answer right away when asked what he likes about his car, a Honda S2000. “Ohhhhhhh,” he says softly, then thinks a bit before coming up with two words. “It’s perfect.”
Costello is like the other owners of Detail Garage, the franchise started three years ago by the founders of Chemical Guys, Paul Schneider and David Knotek. Back in 1968, they began showing up at car shows with the desire to “enrich the world of automotive detailing with proper products for a competitive price,” as the story goes.
Seeing that people weren’t taking care of their cars the way they should, they started doing videos and putting them on YouTube, and today they have an enormous following.
Then Schneider and Knotek dreamed up Detail Garage, a store that would sell Chemical Guys products along with many others. Now up to 52 franchises, which cost about $130,000 to get going and average $40,000 a month in sales, the shops host a monthly event called Rides & Coffee that showcases their owners’ and customers’ beautiful cars.
It’s a perfect match between passion and business.
Back to Jammie Costello of Maryland and his Honda S2000, now that he’s warmed up and can wax more poetic about his car love. It handles like “you’re riding a roller-coaster. It’s fast, lightweight and nimble,” he said.
He first got the car bug when coming home from school. “There were a couple of young guys out front working on their cars next door to me. I would stop over there and hang out with them.”
Jammie Costello opened a Detail Garage a year ago in Glen Burnie, Maryland, following a 20-year career in telecommunications.
He opened his Detail Garage shop a year ago, following a 20-year career in telecommunications, and says his first year “was awesome” and the monthly Rides & Coffee event a hit. “It’s a big event to hang out, talk car products, and not get kicked out of the parking lot,” because they hold the event before the strip mall opens for business.
A “Honda fanatic,” he recalls his first car, a 1995 Honda Civic, with roll-down windows and no AC. His current ride is keeping him happy. “This is it for me for awhile.”
‘High exotics to daily drivers’
Brothers Andrew and Gary Sousa operate a Detail Garage in Swansea, Massachusetts, open for about eight months as of July. “We used to do detailing all the time on the weekends,” Andrew recalls, and had to order products online because there weren’t any detailing supply stores around.
Today they are truck men. “I drive a 2011 GMC Denali Duramax, which is a diesel truck which has big, wide wheels,” Andrew said. “Every time I get in it I want to drive it.”
Gary’s ride is a 2008 Dodge Ram, “fully repainted, and it’s all done up so I can use it for anything.”
Their monthly Rides & Coffee events attract all comers. Says Gary: “High exotics to daily drivers. We’ve seen cars from Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Mercedes Benz,” he said.
The brothers got into cars early. “We started when we were really young, when we could start walking,” Gary said, watching their father as he taught them what to do. “We were hooked on cars, how they looked, how they sounded.”
Asked if they have their next car in mind, Gary answers immediately. “Yes we do,” he said. “My dream vehicle is a 2008 Corvette. I just like that body style.
Garrett Kubiak, owner of a Detail Garage in Detroit, has four vehicles but poses with his favorite. “The ‘68 Camaro is our baby,” he said.
“I’m not a fan of the newer cars because they’re too futuristic and they’re too complex to me. We like working on our own cars.”
Andrew’s next car will be a ‘98 Toyota Supra, introduced while playing racing video games with Gary back in the day. “Every time I would see one, I was just like a little girl, I would dream over that car,” Andrew says.
‘Anything you can imagine’
Asked if the guys at Detail Garage love their cars, Garrett Kubiak is emphatic. “That’s an understatement of the century,” he said, saying he has four vehicles total but a bright red model stands out. “The ‘68 Camaro is our baby,” he said.
Kubiak was a commercial and private banker for years, most recently in Los Angeles where he would go to Rides & Coffee events. “I was a fan of Chemical Guys and Detail Garage,” he said. When he mentioned he and his wife were moving back to Detroit, he was sold on a franchise, opening in April.
“It’s a tremendous undertaking,” he said, and he appreciated the corporate staff. “They’ll give you guidelines, and call and check up on you. You have got to be a decision-maker. You’ve got to be a go-getter.”
The Rides & Coffee event is what differentiates the brand. “It’s so incredible how the owner of Chemical Guys picked up on that. He knew there needed to be so much more than an aisle at an auto parts store. He knew there was a community around cars all around the country.”
His events draw between 100 to 200 people. “A single, three-hour event can stretch anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 in sales. It’s a significant day for your month.” And the work never ends.
“From a car perspective, certainly the projects are never done, and if they are, you’re probably likely to sell it soon,” he said. He’s added another event, Sunset Fridays at Detail Garage Detroit. “Everything from Honda Civics, Aston Martins, right-hand drive Nissan Skylines from Japan. We had a custom hotrod truck with a turbo diesel engine in it,” he said.
“Anything you can imagine, it’s out here in metro Detroit,” he said. “We are the Motor City.”