From the north slope of Alaska to South America, Dennis St. Dennis spent a career cleaning oil storage tanks. Refineries hired him to get rid of the sludge that accumulates in tanks and remove the tar-like material — sometimes many feet deep — right down to the metal floor. It was dangerous and dirty work, and involved living in industrial places. When he retired, St. Dennis came home to the fresh air of his native Elizabethtown, New York where he has family, and where he enjoys hunting and fishing. While retirement sounded good, he quickly discovered that a sedate lifestyle was not for him.
Looking for something to challenge him and keep him busy St. Dennis realized there was no car wash in central Essex County, let alone a car detailing service. Detailing a car means giving it a thorough cleaning, from the interior head liner to the carpets, from the engine bay to the wheels and the entire exterior. He did some research and found a company in Pittsburgh, PA, Detail King, that offered training and would set him up in business. He took their training course and became a licensee, acquiring the knowledge, the equipment and a trailer to hold everything he would need. Thus, Saint D Mobile Wash and Detail came into existence in the summer of 2018.
The trailer, towed by a pickup, is the key to St. Dennis’ business plan. Instead of taking your car to a shop to get it cleaned, he comes to you and details your car right in your driveway. In the trailer he carries an electrical generator, a vacuum, air compressor, steam machine, brushes, cleansers, 90 gallons of water and everything else needed to thoroughly clean a car or truck. He also cleans RVs and is planning to clean boats next summer. With permission, he can also meet you at your place of work or wherever is good for you. The prices charged are in line with what fixed base detailers charge, and his service is a whole lot more convenient.
Protecting the environment is a concern, and the products used are all biodegradable. St. Dennis also carries a large containment mat on which to wash cars if the run-off — usually about twenty gallons — might contaminate a body of water. After washing the car, he pumps the used wash water through a series of filters and uses the now cleaner water on his garden. Saint D Mobile Wash and Detail’s service area is within a 50-mile radius of Elizabethtown, including Plattsburgh and Burlington. The communities on the edge of the service area are Ellenburg, Tupper Lake, Indian Lake, Warrensburg, Whitehall, and Waterbury, Stowe and St. Albans Vermont. Although there may be a fuel surcharge, St. Dennis is willing to travel outside his service area, especially if there is more than one vehicle to work on.
The services St. Dennis offers are myriad and include much more that a hand wash and interior vacuum. He steam cleans carpets and upholstery and will also shampoo them. He can repair cigarette burn holes in seats and carpets and dye carpets to eliminate stains. He shampoos engines and engine bays making them look like new. We have all seen older cars with plastic headlight covers that are going opaque. He can polish those plastic covers so they are sparkling clear again. He cleans and conditions vinyl and leather and can fix chipped paint. If you have a convertible, he knows how to clean and make your rag top look like new.
One of his most popular services is odor removal. The first step in getting rid of smells is to eliminate the source. During my interview with St. Dennis he told me a story about a car in which a teenager had spilled chocolate milk and then let the car sit for three weeks in the summer heat without telling his parents. Dennis steamed and shampooed the affected area, then hooked up his ozone generator and pumped ozone into the car’s interior for an hour. (Ozone is a highly reactive molecule that rapidly oxidizes contaminants. Think of rust destroying a car fender, only in the blink of an eye.) After the ozone treatment, the unpleasant smell was gone for good. Cigarette smoke befouling interiors is another common complaint and is solved by a thorough cleaning of the whole interior, including seat belts and air ducts, followed by an ozone treatment.
St. Dennis specializes in the protection of vehicle exteriors. He has had advanced training in applying ceramic coatings to protect the clear coat and paint. He can do this work only in his shop in Elizabethtown. He can also “clay” a vehicle, which means rubbing it with an artificial clay that removes minute particles embedded in the top paint layer or clear coat. Most cars are shipped by train, and steel train wheels rubbing on steel rails create hot microscopic particles that can fly around and attach themselves to cars. Car brakes also create similar tiny particles that can damage the exterior.
For those who want their cars and trucks to always look their best, St. Dennis has several package deals where he will wash and detail your car on a set schedule.
Dennis St. Dennis has created a new business model for the North Country based on the idea “We Come to You.” We wish him success with his auto-detailing shop on wheels.