It’s All in the Details

Automotive detailing is a fine art, but it also has numerous meanings. Someone with a wash bucket with soapy water, a wash mitt and a garden hose at the ready can claim they’re detailing their vehicle, but to do a proper job, there’s much more that goes into it than you may realize. It can be very intense, and for the individual who picks up a bottle of spray wax at their local auto parts, they haven’t even scratched the surface, metaphorically speaking. 

“I see a lot of mistakes people make when they wash their cars themselves,” said Isaac Baker of Finishing Touch Auto Spa in Waterford, Michigan. “The wrong products and process, combined with bad habits not only torture the paint’s finish, but can quickly degrade the quality of the shine. I tell people there’s a right way and wrong way in making your car look good.” Isaac knows a thing or two about making a vehicle look better than the day it rolled off the line. This 26-year-old, self-motivated entrepreneur has turned his passion for automotive detailing into a successful business. Coming from a family that collected rare automobiles, Isaac was indoctrinated into the hobby at a very young age. 

“I grew up in a car family, with a very close relationship with my father. My father and I have been best friends since my childhood, and our hobby together has always been cars. Growing up, I would wash his cars with him when he would get home from work, he used to call it his ‘Therapy’. Fast forward to today, we are now in the business of enhancing and protecting people’s prized possessions,” noted Isaac. By the time Isaac was in high school, he had started X-treme Auto Wash behind his father’s building in Troy, Michigan. “I naturally followed the entrepreneurial spirit that was instilled in me at a very young age, watching my father grow his businesses, I started my first detailing business at 10 years old. All of my friends would be at summer camps or doing normal ‘kid summer activities.’ I was always looked at as an outcast due to this, especially by adults, thinking it was crazy and not to ‘miss out on being a kid.’ Fortunately, my early start catapulted me to the success we have today thus far. Back then, I would charge anywhere between $10 & $25 to hand wash cars and detail them. It was a great hustle during the months off from school. I remember the first time I made over a thousand dollars; it was as though I was sitting on top of the world.”  

As Isaac continued his business of detailing vehicles, he found his love for connecting with not only the cars but also with people. “I realized the instant gratification you get when taking care of someone’s vehicle that they truly care about. Building the relationship with them, and the friendships that come along the way, solidified my love for the concept of building a business around this work,” reminisced Isaac. “It was at that point, around 15 years old, that I decided I had to come up with a logical plan and business model that I felt I could build a ‘real business’ within the respective industries. This is when the brainstorming and concept for Finishing Touch Auto Spa (FTA) began. Ever since the beginning, I like to say that I am ‘stubbornly relentless on my vision for the company, yet flexible along the way to figure out the best ways of getting there.’ Instead of going to college, I was fortunate enough to have a support system that believed in me, and my ability to start this company from the ground up.”

With the support of his father, Scott Baker, Isaac opened Finishing Touch Auto Spa in early 2016. From there, he purchased a Ram ProMaster City® and began doing mobile detailing and ceramic coatings along with still having a single-bay workshop in Troy, Michigan. With the growing popularity of ceramic coatings and increasing demand from customers wanting to get paint correction services, Isaac took the plunge and purchased a 4,900-square-foot building in Sylvan Lake, Michigan. Now with a proper facility, Isaac was focused on becoming one of the industry’s most well-respected paint protection film installers. Finishing Touch Auto Spa was also one of the first companies to have a dedicated ‘clean room’ that is climate-controlled, separated from the rest of the facility. This is where Isaac’s team does the paint protection film installations, and a controlled environment is critical for applying protective films and coatings. Soon, word began to spread among owners with supercars and exotic machines looking for a top-notch detailing shop and Isaac’s client list grew substantially.

By 2019, he acquired a 50,000-square-foot building in Waterford, Michigan, and spent nearly two years renovating it to make it a state-of-the-art facility that includes four clean rooms, dedicated paint correction and detailing bays, and wash bays that include detailing undercarriages that includes steam cleaning a dry ice procedure that removes grime. For a major project like this for a young man, it’s a team effort. “I couldn’t have achieved this without the love and support of my father and my fiancée, Madison Scarsella, these two important people in my life have encouraged me to pursue my dreams,” commented Isaac.

We asked, Isaac provided some insights on current trends in car detailing and had this share. “Regarding ceramic coatings, a true ceramic coating bonds to the paint but the important part is within the prep as that is about 90% of the overall ceramic process. A ceramic coating is not bulletproof and must be maintained.” Another buzzword that’s been gaining traction is “paint correction” and wanted to know exactly what it is. “Paint correction is correcting the clear coat and removing imperfections. Sometimes wet sanding may be required but we assess the thickness of the paint before beginning the process. There’s what we call a ‘fake shine’ on some of the paint we’ve seen, and our goal is to improve the factory paint without being too aggressive while removing the flaws and bringing out the shine more,” noted Isaac. 

Now that summer’s about to begin and that means shows, events and of course those numerous “Cars and Coffee” gatherings, you’ll want your ride to look good. If you want more details or inspiration, just check out Finishing Touch Auto Spa’s social media platforms.

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