Written by William Bryant Rozier
Washington DC-born Jay Chapman, with his degree in Criminal Justice, was once a corrections officer at a high-risk facility for youth that was beset with constant chaos: drills, breaking up daily fights, and escape attempts to foil.
But “my part-time job at the time, started years before working in the criminal justice field, was something I really enjoyed,” Chapman said, “so let me go back [to auto detailing].”
Chapman’s first auto detail client was himself; the high schooler detailed his 1991 Grand Marques so well every week that his neighbor noticed and inquired about his services. For a couple of bucks, “I put a wax on it, put a polish on it, and vacuumed inside,” Chapman said. “He was coming to me every two weeks.”
The neighbor extolled Chapman’s virtues; purchases for flyers and business cards gave way to Chapman buying his own F-150 power truck and professional equipment like a 200-gallon water tank, a generator, a power washer, and a vacuum cleaner. The high school kid “door-to-door, town-to-town” to drum up business for his mobile detail business.
Chapman started detailing luxury cars and learned how to remove scratches, what weather conditions were best to polish a car under, and how and when to use a clay bar, a resin mixture used to remove contaminants and pollutants from a car’s surface.
Chapman’s business moved him to Florida, with year-round great weather and plenty of premium luxury cars. In Florida, “mobile detail is a dime a dozen business,” said Chapman, who eventually found his niche, “a gold mine,” he said when he brokered a deal at Simon Mall in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, detailing cars for mall shoppers. The mall rented Chapman twenty parking-lot spaces. When the shoppers exited with their purchases, their cars were detailed. “It was a big hit,” Chapman said.
12 years ago, Chapman lived in Florida. It took a couple of years for Chapman to warm up to Fort Wayne when he first moved here, when he got married. The cornfields, all the open land, and the slow pace gave him pause. Plus, Chapman said, there was “a Mike’s Carwash on every block.”
Chapman met his wife Niyoki during a layover in Atlanta; he was flying to Indianapolis to see a best friend who played for the Colts, and she was going home to Fort Wayne.
The plane broke down during the layover, they got to talking in a restaurant and eventually exchanged numbers. A year after that, the two were engaged. He then asked, “why don’t you move to Florida?” Niyoki’s immediate family lived in Fort Wayne and due to some personal family challenges at the time, she requested that he “temporarily move” to Fort Wayne. The “temporary move” turned into something longer. And Chapman started detailing here.
(Chapman also runs a youth basketball camp and co-owns a Christian Apparel T-shirt business with his wife, also called Faithfully Fitted.)
Chapman’s detail service can offer the most marketable incentive that Mike’s Carwash can’t; Faithfully Fitted cleans the inside, in addition to the exteriors. Interior detailing (vacuum, interior dash cleaning, carpet shampoo, leather seat cleaning, etc.) is by far Chapman’s most asked-for package. “Especially in the winter with all of the salt that builds up inside car,” he said.
There are a couple of other mobile detail businesses in town, Chapman said, but he separates himself with his target marketing--like approaching a business, offering to detail company or employee cars, maybe suggesting a sponsorship for an employee of the month.
He has business clients in the funeral home industry, a couple of dealerships as well as trucking outfit Premier Trucking in Bluffton, Indiana that rent out F-150’s and F-250’s super trucks known to have clay and mud caked on after months out on a job.
Friendly Fitted services businesses and the individual alike. Their prices are comparable to other auto cleaners. Chapman employs two cleaners; the three-person team will clean a section of a car then collectively audit each other’s work.
“The average person is ripping and running,” said Chapman, who will evaluate a customer’s wants and needs, before detailing. Even their general history with auto detailing is inventoried. His prices are based on what his company does.
“I’m going vacuum every crevice, [get] every French free between that seat. I’m going to wipe down the entire car,” Chapman said. “I know the type of work I’m going to do.”
Jay Chapman, Owner, Licensed & Insured
Faithfully Fitted Auto Mobile Detailing | 260.704-2959 | Jay_RChapman@hotmail.com