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Grime Pays as Dirt is Us Details Cars, Trucks, Boats

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AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – As a young man, Carl Clay became obsessed with detailing his own vehicles. He always focused on restoring that new-car look buried beneath the dirt.

“Making it look like it’s brand-new all the time,” he says. “That’s the whole thing about detailing.”

Now, after 20 years in the detailing business, he’s operating Dirt is Us Detailing and Accessories, 3720 Mahoning Ave. Clay cut the ribbon Friday on his business, which opened in September

Since it moved from the original 500-square-foot location, Dirt is Us can detail five or six cars simultaneously – with room for more vehicles under a canopy outside – in its new building a former bank branch.

“When I started here in September, I was a little worried,” Clay said, “but business quadrupled and we’re [open] seven days a week now.”

Detailing can be as simple as a wash and a wax, Clay says, or it can become as advanced as dying the carpet inside a vehicle or applying a ceramic coating. But convenience, his experienced eye and advanced products are why customers seek a detailing service, he said. “That’s where the professional guys come in,” Clay said. “We use better, professional chemicals that you can’t buy off the shelf at your local auto parts store.”

The average age of a vehicle on the road is almost 12 years, according to Automotive News. A professional detailing service can be key to keeping an older vehicle looking newer and presentable, Clay said. “And if they have a lease, they can bring it in to get it fixed, so they don’t get hit with a penalty at the dealership for the lease return.”

The amount of detailing work that goes into a car can vary widely, and a professional pays attention to every small element, says employee Michael Karpenko. “Some cars take me four hours. Others might take six hours to finish. A lot of people have dog hairs, bad stains. Sometimes I’ll take the seats out of a vehicle – just to get in-between the cracks.”

Dirt is Us also details vehicles for nearby dealerships, including Bob and Chuck Eddy, Greenwood Chevrolet, Haus Auto Group and Struthers Auto Mall. The work can be basic detailing, or it can involve cleaning and restoring the interior of a car with a leaky roof.

Clay recommends that customers bring their vehicle in for an inspection before he offers a quote or estimate on how long a job might take.

“If someone is interested, I try to accommodate them,” he said. “We’ll even do campers and boats.”

Pictured: Lisa and Carl Clay cut the ribbon for Dirt is Us, a detailing shop on Mahoning Avenue.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.