Car Deets Creates Winter Market for Car Detailing With Steamericas' Optima Steamer

NOTE: This June SPS profile was originally published in print in June 2018 and online in May 2018.

With all the snow and salt on Alaska streets, vehicle paint is absolutely brutalized by road conditions in the northernmost state, especially during winter and break-up.

The frigid weather had always prevented detailers from serving customers throughout those months —until Jim Beach of Car Deets changed that in 2013, creating a brand new local market demand in the off-season.  

“Before us, other detailers closed during the winter months because it was just too difficult, but we found the solution: the Optima Steamer DMF, manufactured by Steamericas,” Beach said. 

With the Optima Steamer, Car Deets employees can completely wash the interior and exterior of a vehicle with just seven gallons of water, despite the extreme weather conditions found in Alaska. It accesses hard-to-reach places with the product’s steam and also sanitizes the vehicle. In most climates, the Optima Steamer only requires two to three gallons of water to clean the entire vehicle, and in drier climates, a complete detail job can be accomplished with less than two gallons of water. 

“Alaskans spend an above-average amount of time in their vehicles since everything is so far apart, and germs are problematic, but the Optima can sanitize the car’s inside better than any cleaner available, killing 99.9 percent of germs,” Beach said. “We end up with a cleaner  [and] better product for the end user, and we even use less water to do it!” 

Car Deets was founded as an effort to hire and train homeless youth. It employed 175 teens and young adults between 2013 and 2015 and taught them job skills before they transitioned to other jobs. The creation of a detailing market was a by-product of Beach’s philanthropy. Now, Car Deets supports other programs for youth, such as My House, which provides housing and guidance for homeless teens. Beach purchased an Optima Steamer just two months after opening his business’s doors. As the company expanded to include two more locations, he purchased an additional steamer.

“Alaska has the worst economy, crime rate and unemployment rate in the country, so we’ve been very blessed to expand over the past few years,” he said. “Steamericas’ Optima Steamer revolutionized our business and was a huge factor in our success.” 

In 2013, Beach learned about the Optima when it was featured on “Jay Leno’s Garage.” Intrigued, he researched the product and made the investment that changed the course of his business.  

“My team and I absolutely love Steamericas’ Optima Steamer. In addition to reducing the use and cost of harsh soaps and chemicals to almost nil, it reduces labor costs while simultaneously increasing production,” Beach shared. “We can easily clean a vehicle with the Optima Steamer in half the time it would take us to do an inferior detailing job using cleaners with harsh chemicals that hurt the environment. The efficiency of dealing with steam allows us to double our output, so we detail more vehicles with less manpower while reducing our carbon footprint. 

“Steamericas uses ‘dry’ vapor steam technology in the Optima, and it’s amazing. Besides detailing everything internal and external, it removes pinstripes, decals and vinyl wraps—it lifts all kinds of adhesives without damaging the vehicle’s paint. It also cleans engine compartments. It comes with lots of attachments that allow the steam to reach small, difficult places. Engine cleaning is one of Car Deets’ signature services, and I can’t imagine how we’d accomplish it without the Optima Steamer.”

Steamericas has provided Car Deets with many helpful videos and unlimited phone support due to the company’s distance. Steamericas has provided Car Deets with many helpful videos and unlimited phone support due to the company’s distance.  

“They don’t have any distributors in Alaska, but their customer service department is phenomenal,” Beach said. “When we’ve needed something, they’ve actually gone to the factory for us and developed workarounds for our climate. We’re just a small mom-and-pop shop, but they treat us like we’re their biggest, best customer. If a company models its customer support after Steamericas’ team, they’ll have done an outstanding job.” 

Ten employees work in the three Car Deets facilities located in Palmer, Anchorage and Fairbanks. They offer detailing, windshield chip repair, paint correction and paint protection. They serviced the needs of 3,400 customers in 2017. 

According to Beach, “My guys would pick the Optima Steamer over all our other equipment. If they had to detail a vehicle using only a rag and one tool, they would choose the Optima every single time. It makes everything quicker and easier, and it can be used to clean and sanitize everything from upholstery to engine compartments.”  

At SEMA, Beach introduced a couple to the Steamericas booth, and in February, he flew to Michigan to train a collision repair facility on using the Optima Steamer and maximizing everything it does.  

“I can’t express how much I believe in this product. It’s a total game-changer,” he said.

Car Deets
Location: Palmer, Anchorage and Fairbanks, AK
(907) 229-2860
cardeetsak.com

Company At A Glance...
Type:
 Detail Shop
Facility Employees: 10
In Business Since: 2013
Number of Locations: Three
Combined Production Space: 8,500 square feet

Steamericas
Company Contact: Yujin Yoo Anderson
(310) 327-8900
www.steam.am

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