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My Detailing Story – Part 4: The End of an Era


This is part 4 of a 4 part series, where Zach McGovern will share his personal detailing story. Zach will cover his love for detailing, his own shop, a growing business and ultimately, where all of this led. To see all of the articles in this series after they post, click here.

In Parts 1 – 3 of this story, I went over the start and growth of my business.  We had expanded and were doing some really great work.

Over the course of just 5 years, my small business has transformed into more than I ever expected or believed it could.  We had moved from my single stall apartment garage, to my double stall garage at my home, and now had a large shop that was always full of cars.  I had a partner that was just as passionate about our work as I was, we were working on nice cars, we had satisfied customers, a recognized name within the local car community, and we were having a great time.  You probably aren’t expecting to hear me say that this would be the end of my time as a business owner and as a professional detailer.

ATD | Nick

Many people did not realize that in addition to my detailing business, I also had a full time job as an engineer, and more importantly, I had a wife at home that I was often too busy to spend time with.  We were now expecting our first child, and as expected, this was a major turning point in my life, personally and professionally.  After our son was born, it became clear that my already minimal free time was now reduced to zero.  In fact, I was stretched too thin.  I had already given up any sort of social life or personal hobbies in order to get my business to grow to where it was today, but now I simply could not manage 2 careers and spend time with my family.  I was faced with the decision of attempting to make detailing a full time career, or letting it go all together.  I won’t lie… I lost a lot of sleep over this.

Being a detailer was not just a job, it was part of my life.  One thing I realized throughout the journey of transforming a hobby into a business was that when you truly love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.  When you are truly committed to making your passion a success, it is very easy to get up and go to work.  It is very easy to take your work home with you.  It is very easy to respond to emails and phone calls at all hours of the day or night.  This sort of passion was not something that I felt with my current engineering job, but that was the job that paid the bills.  That was the job that enabled me to have complete financial freedom and to take some risks when making changes to my detailing business because I did not have to rely on my detailing income.  That was the job that provided the healthcare and retirement benefits that my family relied on.  After a tremendous amount of thought, many spreadsheets outlining possible scenarios, struggling to quantify the potential risk/reward of various situations, and many conversations with the people that I loved and trusted about the fear of failure, I decided to leave… both jobs.

last car

That’s right, I decided to leave my engineering job and my detailing business.  My wife and I had always planned on moving back home to the St. Louis area to be closer to family, so if we were going to make a change, why not now.  As much as I wanted to make detailing my full-time job, I just could not face the risk.  I personally could not handle the thought of failure and the unknown outcome of a life changing decision like that… I envy those of you who have gone through this type of dilemma and have chosen to accept the risk, and I applaud those of you who have come out on top and are pushing yourselves to succeed at something you love to do.

With the decision made, we worked on transitioning ownership of the business to Matt.  I knew I only wanted someone I could trust to keep building on what I had started, and Matt was the perfect person to continue moving Attention to Detailing forward (make sure to keep up with Attention to Detailing on Facebook).  The photo above was the last vehicle I worked on with the guys, and it was a giant, jet black reminder of what I had fallen in love with – restoring beaten up paint to near perfection.


It was an emotional decision to step away from professional detailing.  As I had mentioned, it was a huge part of my life, but in the end I knew the best parts of my life were yet to come.  I’m excited to say that our move back home has been a great decision for our entire family.  Our little dude is being spoiled by his grandparents, and we are expecting a baby girl early next year.  I may not be getting paid for detailing any longer, but I am still engaged in the detailing community, always testing products on my personal vehicles, and still look forward to producing more content for the blog.  Once a detailer, always a detailer.

It has been fun to relive these memories as I put these articles together.  Thanks for following along with my detailing story!

Zach McGovern
Attention To Detailing Peoria
Peoria, IL

59 comments on My Detailing Story – Part 4: The End of an Era

  1. Chris Montalto says:

    What a fantastic story! You’re an amazing father for making such a bold career decision. I’m sure your wife is extremely proud 🙂

    As someone who is currently growing their business and is looking to transition away from mobile detailing, this was a fantastic read. Thanks for your contributions!

  2. Bob says:


    Great series. I always enjoyed your detailed write-up, tips, and photography.

    Congratulations on your success in the detailing business.

    I bet when your kids are older you will come back to detailing as a part-time business again.

  3. Marcus says:


    I cant lie to you man, that was touching. Family is important and I am glad you made the right decision. Can email you and ask you a couple of business questions?

    Thanks for sharing

  4. Caleb Rodriguez says:


    Wow!!! What a series brother. Haha it has a short story feel to it. Great write up. Did not see the ending going that way but I think we can all agree that we wish the best for your family and thanks for being so transparent with the business side of things.

  5. Bill Boroski says:

    We’ve never met but I’ve enjoyed and have learned so much from your blogs and tips. Thank you. Reading your story, there’s no doubt you’re a stand-up guy, a good husband and a great father. I wish you all the best as you move into the next phase of your life!

  6. Zach K. says:

    Currently live and work in St. Louis and have contemplated a lot of the same stuff. My weekends are virtually nonexistent during detailing season. I also am in amazement at people who have risked their livelihood to start and grow a detailing business(or any business, really) from scratch without fallback employment… definitely not something for the weak of heart/mind.

    Really enjoyed the story! Thanks for sharing. I have always admired your writeups and work on DI and Autogeek, so it’s… refreshing(?) in a way to know that even with your obvious skillset and talent that it felt like a whirlwind at times and you were also learning on the fly. Best of luck to you.

    • Thank you Zach… glad you enjoyed the articles 🙂

      I never stopped learning throughout the whole process, and even now that I have “retired” I am still learning… I think those who strive for the best will never stop learning, ever!

  7. Mike C. says:

    Great story, Zach. Putting your family first is always the right decision. Good man. Best of luck to you!

  8. Richard Beach says:

    Congratulations on becoming a dad!! Change is scary but I’m confident you’ll be detailing again before you know it, it’s in the blood. Maybe not at the same scale as your shop but you will find a polisher in your hands again before you know it. Best of luck bud!

    • I am still detailing on a personal level… taking care of my own cars (which I previously did not have the time to do), as well as friends and family vehicles so I can continue learning, experimenting, testing, and producing content for this blog. Thanks for reading!

  9. Chris says:

    Hi, Zach, I applaud you for doing due diligence and deciding what is best for you and your growing family. I enjoyed reading/learning from your write ups and getting answers to every question I’ve asked. I am currently going through a career transition, and know the headache and heartache that goes along with it. But, like yours my family is whom my decision will best serve. I wish the best of luck and health for you and your family, your write-ups and positive outlook have been inspiring – even this morning.


  10. Brian Guy says:

    Great series of articles Zach! As a father of 4, I know how hard it can be with spending the time correctly. Through all the struggle I believe you’ve made the right choice and I wish you and your growing family the very best!

  11. Victor Hernandez says:

    I got a tear in my eyes lol

  12. Zach always great advice and quick response I will miss you. Do you know of a very good detail shop / person (besides me?LOL) in the Green Bay wi area?

    Thanks much


    • Well I am not leaving, but it is nice to know that I would be missed if I was. While I am not working as a professional detailer, I have been asked to continue producing content for the blog, which I am very happy to do 🙂

      I’m sorry, I do not know anyone in the Green Bay Area.

  13. Paul H says:

    Great article Zach- happy that nick and Myles both sent me your way. You were and have been one of the best connections I made when I got bitten/attacked with the detailing bug a few years back when I bought a jet black mustang and wanted it to be a jewel. Your articles and help through email have been second to none. Best of luck in the Lou!

  14. Ray Scott says:

    What a great story. You made the right choice, Zach. Family always comes first and I admire you for realizing that.

  15. Jeff M says:

    Best of luck. I learned a ton from your posts like your DIY LED light setup that has got to be one of the all time great detailing tool ideas.

  16. Arvind K says:

    Fantastic read. Even thought you’ve left the business, you can look back on a remarkable achievement.

    If you don’t mind me asking, did you eventually make a return to the engineering field?

    • Glad you enjoyed the articles!

      Yep, when I left my engineering job in Peoria, I had a new job lined up in the St. Louis area where I am currently employed as a mechanical engineer.

  17. Roger Carlson says:

    Awesome story! I had NO idea you were also a full time mechanical engineer. I thought you already were a full time detailer.
    Frankly I don’t know how you do it. I’m an electrical engineer and I have enough trouble finding enough time to detail my own car. But you are way more organized than I am lol. Best of luck in your new endeavor and I’m sure you will do great!

  18. Andrew says:

    thank you for sharing zach, that was a good read and i can relate. i took the leap into detailing full time 5 years ago; leaving a very secure job. with a new born and 2 step children the path to where i am at now was very difficult. but i wouldnt have done it any other way. after 5 years it is starting to pay off in more ways then i had ever thought. so, your story hit me in the feels brother thank you again for sharing!

  19. Andres says:

    Very inspiring story Zach, big fan from down here in Panama, Central America!

  20. Bern Beatty says:

    Great story, very well-written. Good for you.

  21. Souriya Joe Maniwan says:

    Great story! I hope you family over everything! Hopefully you will still write blogs and make YouTube videos!

  22. Jon N says:

    Great articles Zach with a twist at the end. Your detailing skills have honed your writing ability too. Like other readers I didn’t know you were an engineer also–that’s awesome! My day job is recruiting engineers. My family made the move from the Midwest to the Southeast ten years ago and we have never looked back. Thanks for sharing your story. And of course all of your detailing advice.

  23. Roger Baron says:

    Enjoyed the story and love reading your reviews on products. Please keep them coming.

  24. HiCare says:

    Great series, thanks for sharing the video.

  25. Sammy says:

    So you quit your engineering job & your detailing business to change diapers? I had hopes for a great story, but this ended rather shitty.
    So much potential tossed away.
    I’m struggling to get any clients… people are so cheap…
    They love their $30K Harleys, but squeeze a $100 bux out of them for a 5 step detailing job & oh boy… That cuts into the beer money…
    I doubt I will continue my detailing business either, but for all the exact opposite reasons.

    • Hi Sammy – based on your comments, I’m not sure you have the proper attitude to be a business owner, but perhaps it is something you can work at. Growing pains are expected, but if you are not getting any clients, then you need to take a step back and evaluate your overall business plan and strategy. Something is not working, and it is likely something that can be fixed.

      With regards to my story, it seems you failed to miss several important factors. I started a high end detailing business in an area that I was not sure would support it, but in the end I was busier than I could handle and we were averaging 4 figures per job. I am proud that I was able to build such a successful business from the ground up in a short period of time. I created a known brand name and a great reputation for my work, and that in and of itself is full of value. I passed along this dream of mine to some people that I really care about and they are taking it to new levels… therefore keeping my hard work alive and making it worthwhile.

      My family made the decision to move back home where I began a new engineering career. I’d imagine, based on your comments, that you do not have children. If/when you do, you’ll be surprised at the effect they will have on your life. Suddenly your personal goals are no longer as important. Family should be the highlight of your life, and I have loved every single extra moment I have been able to share with my family since taking myself away from having 2 demanding jobs consuming all of my time.

      I wish you the best of luck at turning your business around and encourage you to find a mentor in your area who can help guide you towards success.

  26. RonAyotte says:

    Zach.. it takes guts to walk away from an established career and business. and start all over again. Family comes first and foremost. I applaud your decision forgo detailing as a business to spend time with your kids and watch them grow up!

    I retired after 33 years in the fire service. As a “clean car fanatic”, I started as detailing when one of my wife’s friends asked me to wash and wax the conversion van she used for her business. My detailing venture grew from there,albeit part time, as I worked per diem and still do at Massachusetts Fire Academy. I am still detailing, and have always enjoyed articles by you and other Detailed Image authors. I have used your write-ups to improve my skills and product choices as a detailer.

    Best of luck in your new career, and I am looking forward to more of your writings!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Ron! Also, thank you for your service as a fire fighter… it takes special people to put the well being of complete strangers ahead of their own, and we certainly do not take that type of selflessness for granted!

  27. Scott Myers says:

    This was a really fun and familiar read. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story. I too started detailing, (washing cars) at a young age and have done it on the side and even full time on and off over the past 29 years. Detailing is an obsession that can pay the bills or empty the bank account. Enjoy your family and your passion Zach!

  28. Jenifer Maala says:

    You’re story is amazing!
    My husband loves to do a detailing. We just migrated from the Philippines in 2016.I’ve seen him just as you were when younger doing simple cleaning everyday. Now, he would like to continue the hobby and do it for a living. Detailing is very overwhelming for me but I believe that my husband’s passion would bring him far just like you. I wanna support my husband on his journey.Your experiences are an inspiration to people like us.

  29. Asa says:

    Hi there to all, the contents existing at this site are truly remarkable for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

  30. Dear Sir,

    Thanks for Shearing Such Information.

    We provides Integrated Facility Management Services.

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