Mafia Memoirs at SEMA 2018 – We visit with Mark Elliott of Firehouse Auto Spa. We discuss coatings, managing a small detailing team while also being a firefighter, affects of weather on detailing and more.
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Jody: Hey guys welcome to Mafia Memoirs another episode where we’re exploring the detailers of The Detail Mafia and the vendors and suppliers that are driving the industry my name’s Jody Sedrick, my partner
Rod: Rod Puzey
Jody: And we have Mark Elliott
Mark: Firehouse Auto Spa
Jody: And his from Jacksonville and I’m telling you this guy is one of the giants in the industry and it’s just a pleasure to get to know you so yeah, so tell us a little bit about your shop, man.
Mark: Um, so we’re Jacksonville, Florida we have about an eighteen hundred square foot shop. We offer paint correction, ceramic coatings, window tintings, basically were your one stop shop where you can drop your vehicle off and get protection all the way around.
Jody: No dealer services.
Mark: No dealer services.
Jody: Just retail
Mark: Just retail
Rod: So one of the biggest questions we get being in the P&S Booth is Why, why would I, or why should I do a ceramic coating?
Mark: I think the biggest thing is just a really to protect your investment. I mean if you look at it, you know if you’re spending all this money on a vehicle, and you really want to take care of put a ceramic coating on it. All you’re doing is paying up front to not having to take as much are of it in the end. What I mean by taking as much care of it is as far as having to wax it and stuff like that. You always want to take care of a vehicle but a ceramic coating is going to give you protection from against, you know, the elements and everything.
Rod: So big question we always ask everybody, and everybody is different way. You’re in Jacksonville, you got humidity
Jody: Salt water in the air
Rod: Salt water
Mark: That’s a big one.
Rod: and heat in the summer
Rod: so how do, what differentiates what you do, Is it different products than what other people use, is it the way in which you use them?
Mark: I think it’s more of a different approach way. I think we find ourselves cleaning cars a lot more due to salt water in the air. We do a lot, a lot of paint decontamination. Other than that humidity messes with us a little bit when it comes to applying coatings. But luckily we have an AC in our shop so we knock the humidity down and get it going.
Rod: That’s good. So you do interior services as well?
Mark: Yeah definitely, we do European steam cleaning.
Mark: Interior protection and everything. So Yeah.
Jody: So your shop’s there in Jacksonville. You have a team of how many?
Mark: A team of four
Jody: Four, so and how do you break that up? So do you have guys that specialize in certain areas or more generalist.
Mark: One guy really handles our mobile services. Another guy really handles in-house services. The other two kind of float between those two guys. So just depending on the workload either one of them has. Me I just keep everything organized scheduled and jump to whoever needs my help.
Rod: So talking about your organization you’re a professional firefighter as well.
Mark: I am
Rod: And you own a detailing company
Mark: I do.
Rod: How do you balance that?
Mark: Um, I think number one you just got to make a lot of sacrifices. You know, sometimes you want to say I want to take a nap. I want to go to sleep and you know there’s stuff that needs to be done. But also staying organized and sticking to a plan. If you say you’re going to do it, just do it and get it done. Um and that’s really just how I do it, just stay real organized and keep a very strict schedule for myself.
Jody: So every year that I’ve seen you’ve been at AFO.
Mark: I have
Jody: So Air Force One and you’re not the guy cutting you’re the guy finishing. You’re doing the final just making it beautiful.
Jody: So what is it? I guess what it is to getting to that level? I mean.
Mark: Um, I’d say the real key is understanding, understanding, you know paint correction and understanding number one paint correction understanding polishers and understanding polishes. So basically just understanding all three of those and you’ll be able to there.
Jody: I’m sorry. I’m just busting because William Lara just snuck up behind you being a difficult jokester.
William: Chocolate Thunder!
Jody: I was trying so hard not to laugh. He’s just making faces behind you.
Rod:I think that’s one thing that stood out to me. I mean, we’re obviously first year at AFO, um, getting up there and working on aluminum
Rod: for the first time just literally. And I’m going to use a term here but the gentle approach you have to explaining to someone how to do something.
Rod: There’s a lot of people that come across very bold,
Jody: very brash
Rod: less pressure here, more pressure here and work in this motion and that works for some people like William Lara you need a stick, a big stick, bam, bam, bam
Rod: Other people need an adjustment and getting used to that polisher getting use to that particular pad. If you’ve never had like a twisted wool with scotch bright pad on it
Rod: There’s a lot of pressure going on. If you don’t have the right amount of pressure stuff’s flicking off
Mark: chasing it everywhere
Rod: Way different than like the final step where you got the twisted way and you’re pulling pressure away at each pass. So just the technique in general that is phenomenal to learn. We actually commented to some of the guys afterward about the advantage of having someone like you, or Kyle who is very seasoned in doing that around us. Is that something you do, obviously with the guys at work. Are you helping to direct them?
Mark: Um, I consider myself a good leader you know. I think my guys will say the same thing. I’m not one, they’ll probably say, I’ve never yelled at them. You know I’m not too strict. We kind of have a very relaxed work environment. It might just be me or it might be the firefighter in me. You know, because we gotta be calm because when everything is going crazy we’re the one that comes in and tell everybody hey relax, we’re here, everything’s gonna be all right. So it could be that in me. Um, you know, I just feel, you know if you just take your time and relax, everything is fine and you can learn a little better.
Jody: I will say that you just, I mean you and Kyle together are a blast to be with. You really do have kind of a calming nature. You’re this big giant, but’s it’s not like Ian he’s just blowing you over right? You just have this calming nature. And, You know it’s like when I visited your shop. I mean it was just low key. Everybody knew what they were doing and so I’m actually back to the polishing one of the things that was really impressive to me both when you were cutting with team on the B29 but also you and Kyle when you were doing the final touch, it was all as a team just going together one two counting off the cadence and work and that precision, that team really brought out something, not only on the product that you were working on, but you as the team.
Mark: I agree
Jody:So, do you try to foster that in your team?
Mark: Definitely, you know, again you know when my guys are out there I’m not the one sitting behind a door and opens the door and yelled hey, wash that car.
Jody: You missed a spot!
Mark: Exactly I’m out there with them you know, and you know if, if we miss a spot or we make a mistake we try to figure out how not to make that mistake again. It’s not like hey you’re fired because you made a mistake. You know we try to build a team up and we try to find you know I’m not expecting everybody to be as good as me. But you know you try to find everybody’s individual strengths and use that to your advantage. And that’s that’s what I’ve done with my business and that’s what has allowed us to grow.
Jody: Do you find, Do you find a lot of your guys that they gravitate to certain things like some are interior guys, some are exterior or do they want to do it all?
Mark:Well, I got a couple guys that, uh you want to do like interiors, everybody wants to do paint correction.
Mark: Everybody, we’ll get a car in there and three of my guys will say all right we’ll start polishing and I’ll say wait, what about the inside? For the most part you know, at the end of the day. everybody knows what needs to be done to get the car out of the shop. So we know if we all jump on paint correction we still have to get the inside done. Either way it’s going to get done whoever has to do it.
Mark: We always figure out a way to get it done, to make it happen
Jody: obviously, I mean your IDA Certified Detailer, skills validated,
Jody: Are you doing training for your team? Are you also having them go through training as well?
Mark:it is something that we’re going trying to implement towards the end of this year, next year. We’re gonna get all of our guys certified through the IDA. I’m going to try to, I’m a recognized Trainer. At the beginning of the ear I”m going to see how that goes. I’ve been doing some training classes down with Jason down in Melbourne, So I have enough under my belt to be recognized as recognized trainer.
Mark:I”m going to implement, I have a full plan with my guys to implement the IDA into my business.
Jody:Are there other things coming up in 2019 you’re planning that you can share.
Mark:Really I mean, we’re not big planners, you know um, I don’t know if that’s just the nature, nature again of me being a firefighter or what I’m not a big planner I’m kind of just, I”m not going to say just go with the flow, but I adapt to what is going on. If I see an opportunity I make sure I’m in a position to take advantage of it. Um, but we do have a couple of things in the works, that we are starting to work on that might happen.
Jody: I’m impressed because a lot of people see an opportunity and they leap
Jody: Versus you’re going, I see an opportunity how can we approach it, how can we finesse into this opportunity and make it grow for us?
Mark: And I was explaining to a couple people before it’s almost like, uh you know, if you go to war, before a country goes to war the position all their troops in a certain position the don’t just push a button and go to war.
Mark: And that what we do make sure we have a great team we make sure everybody is solid. Train, knows the expectations of our business knows how to make sure the car meets the customers’ expectations. Once we feel like our team is ready that’s when we go in and attack
Jody: Yeah, that’s awesome. Great. So obviously you’re in Jacksonville, how do people find you?
Mark: Check us out on Instagram at @firehouseautospa.com on Facebook at Firehouse Auto Spa or check us out on the web at Firehouseautospajax.com
Jody: So if you’re in the Jacksonville area make sure you hook up with Mark Elliot and his team with Firehouse Auto Spa and uh, thank you guys for joining us for another episode of Mafia Memoirs thanks for joining us.
Mark:Thank you. Thank you.
Jody: We will catch you guys on the next round. See Ya
Firehouse Auto Spa – Jacksonville, Fl
Ph: 904 803 1027
Mafia Memoirs is a production of Zenware and RoadFS The Official Software for The Detail Mafia. and the preferred software for auto detailers, PDR, interior repair and wheel repair. Proud member of the IDA.