California car detailing franchise Detail Garage plans to expand into New Jersey with its first tri-state locations, and 20 stores planned in the state over the next five years.
Chief Revenue Officer John Mansfield, a former Matawan resident, is excited about the expansion and said that due to the state’s population and car enthusiasm community, “there are some very clear opportunities in the New Jersey market,” calling out Trenton, Edison, Livingston, Toms River and Bergen County.
Detail Garage started out around 20 years ago as Chemical Guys, a manufacturer of car detailing chemicals and supplies, and has grown into a retailer with events and classes to engage local car buff communities.
A testimonial on its website attributed to Martin G. in Oceanside, Calif. called it “a candy store for people who want to keep their vehicles in storeroom condition.”
Mansfield told NJBIZ that Paul Schneider and David Knotek, the founders of Chemical Guys and then Detail Garage, were car buffs who noticed that the most popular waxes and products people put onto their cars weren’t up to the quality they wanted.
“Especially people who have a passion for shine – you’re telling me one of your biggest investments in life you’re going to take care of it with the cheapest product on the shelf? That doesn’t make any sense,” Mansfield said.
A digital native brand, Chemical Guys has amassed 945,000 followers on Instagram and 687,000 subscribers on YouTube, instructing folks on ways to keep their car clean and shining. Mansfield said that moving into brick-and-mortar allowed the brand to become a bigger part of people’s passion.
“[We started with] a great chemical product and expanded that through education. We also recognized that you can’t substitute that in-person connection, and that’s where Detail Garage came to life. We took everything we were doing online and brought it to an in-person experience. We wanted to sell Chemical Guys products, but also be a part of the community,” Mansfield said.
Now, each location hosts classes and once a month a popular community day dubbed Rides & Coffee, a free event open to car enthusiasts to mingle among free coffee and doughnuts. Some locations will invite food trucks to set up during their Rides & Coffee events or bring in a DJ to set the mood.
Detail Garage’s franchise inquiry portal has received several inquiries from New Jersey in recent weeks, and Mansfield said that prospective franchisees will be evaluated and on upcoming discovery days, which happen near the company’s headquarters in Gardena, Calif. monthly.
The first New Jersey locations should open within the next 12 months.
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