Recent graduates of West Hartford’s Hall High School are back at work for the summer, washing and detailing cars throughout area.
By Ronni Newton
There’s washing your car, but then there’s the way WeHa WasHes washes your car.
Hundreds of cars in West Hartford and the surrounding are have been made as clean as when they left the dealership – maybe cleaner – after getting the full detailing experience from the team of young entrepreneurs who are running their auto detailing business for the fourth summer. And you don’t even have to leave your house or workplace.
“We’re mobile, easy, and convenient,” said Will O’Connell, who joined the WeHa WasHes team last year and is the lead contact for the business this summer.
O’Connell is working alongside one of his best friends, Mauricio Vega-Estades, who is also back for his second season with the business. Will Schoen – one of the founders (along with Kallen Colbert) – is finishing up a study abroad program in Germany and will join O’Connell and Vega-Estades once he returns.
It’s good clean work operating the business that started amid the pandemic as an innovative and safe way for the teens to earn money, work outdoors, and allow clients to remain inside their homes. It’s also good, clean fun, and O’Connell said, “I couldn’t ask for a better job. You’re with your best friends, it’s nice weather …”
“All you need to have is a nearby outlet and a spigot,” added O’Connell. They bring the hoses, nozzles, buckets, towels, vacuum, and every other piece of equipment needed for a thorough detailing.
“We literally clean every spot in the car,” he said, pointing out the inner door jambs of a Jeep Renegade he was working on as one of the areas that might get missed in a less careful cleaning. Other than the contents of the glove compartment, everything that’s inside the car, including from the console, is removed during the detailing process.
O’Connell and Vega-Estades always work as a team, and have their assigned tasks. If the floor mats are carpeted, that’s Vega-Estades’ job, while O’Connell handles cleaning the rubberized mats.
O’Connell said they schedule appointments daily at noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m., and keep their radius within about 25 minutes of West Hartford, where both he and Vega-Estades live. Sometimes they will do more than one vehicle at the same house and save travel time, but it’s rare that they do four cars in a day. They can work in driveways, in the road (as long as there is a safe place to park) in front of a home, or at a workplace or other site like a church. And the car owners can go about their business and don’t have to sit in a waiting room or get a ride back and forth.
It takes roughly two hours to clean an average size car, but that can vary depending on the size, and prices vary as well, with the cost for the full detailing ranging from $110 for a small coupe, $120 for a sedan, $130 for a two-row SUV, $130 for a three-row SUV, and $150 for a minivan, truck, or large SUV like a Suburban.
“We always include wax for the exterior. It’s a ceramic wax that really makes it shiny,” O’Connell said.
There are also options for interior-only cleaning as well as an express detailing.
“It was all word of mouth the past couple of years,” O’Connell said, with plenty of positive reviews on social media sites helping bring business their way.
The most luxurious cars they have worked on include high-end Mercedes and Tesla models and Range Rovers.
O’Connell laughed when asked if they’ve found any interesting items while cleaning. “This year we haven’t found too many bad things,” he said. Mostly it’s food, but they did find a medical implement in a doctor’s car, and alcohol hidden in the trunk.
“Random toys, kids’ food, gum,” said Vega-Estades. “You find a lot of toys under the seats in places where parents couldn’t find them and you don’t really see them unless you take the time to look at every part of the car and every small detail.”
The business has been doing well this summer, O’Connell said, and while it’s not an internship, it’s great background for his major in entrepreneurship and both he and Vega-Estrada still have a few summers left to keep the business going. O’Connell just completed his sophomore year at Hofstra. Vega-Estrada is studying commercial vocal performance at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School Conservatory, and just finished his freshman year.
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