Brighton teenage entrepreneur launches his own car detailing service


While some high school students start summer jobs, future seniors Connor Nicholson hopes to launch a career.

Nicholson, 17, founded Shorty’s Auto Detailing in May at the end of his first year at Brighton High School.

He said he started small and tested the service to see if it would pay off, and it turned out to be.

He spent about $300 on equipment and supplies to get started. “At first, I borrowed my parents’ old gas-powered pressure washer,” he said.

“We are already booked until mid-July.”

It only took a few jobs before he made enough money to invest in more equipment and cleaning supplies.

He operates the service from the tailgate of his 2012 Madza3, where he stores his new high-end electric pressure washer, shop vac, hand and hand brushes, cleaners, protectors and cloth towels soft.

He said after his first week, he put his notice to Gus’s Carryout, a local takeout restaurant, to devote all his energy to growing his new business.

“I wanted to work for myself. I don’t have a manager telling me what to do.”

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He said he learned a lot about how to clean and detail vehicles in high school’s automotive technology class.

“I learned a lot about car technology and basic knowledge also came from watching a lot of YouTube videos, seeing, maybe it will work better, some trial and error.”

He named the company after his late grandfather Ford “Butch” Nicholson, who died in 2016. His grandfather operated an auto body repair shop called Shorty’s. It is also a nod to his and his grandfather’s short figurine.

Connor Nicholson, 17, next to the sedan of his 2012 Madza3 Thursday, June 23, 2022. He operates his mobile car detailing business, Shorty's Auto Detailing, out of the car.

Go mobile

He said he decided to make it a mobile business for several reasons.

“My sister has a mobile dog grooming service. I saw she could do it.”

He said he also wanted to offer a better rate than some car detailing companies that are short on physical locations.

“Some places where you charge it $300. My parents drove 30 minutes for $200. I thought I could date people for less.”

It offers different pricing options for basic and high-end interior and exterior details. A basic combo package costs $80 and it charges $100 for a premium combo package.

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He said his goal was to restore the vehicles to their original appearance as much as possible.

He spends several hours vacuuming, dusting, cleaning carpets and fabrics, washing all plastic, wood or rubber surfaces, shining glass and thoroughly washing exteriors, among other services. .

As he plans to expand his business in the future, he has already recruited two friends and classmates in automotive technology, Spencer Nelson and George Pacaj, who worked in car washes.

Bigger dreams

Nicholson is working on expansion plans.

“I want to have a van to work next year, and my dream is that I also want to have a trailer.”

He could eventually set up headquarters in a three-car garage at his grandparents’ house.

He said having a garage to work in would allow him to offer more services, like a two-day paint fix.

He’s saving up for more gear, including a stain extractor for carpets and fabric seats and an undercarriage cleaning attachment for his pressure washer.

He also plans to add salt protection during the winter months.

If the business grows enough, he might consider turning it into a larger operation.

“If I had a few vans, I could get several people out.”

He plans to go to college, but plans to spend a year building the car detailing business before taking classes after high school.

He said he was considering studying business.

“And I’d like to do some engineering.”

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at [email protected]


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