With almost all his might, 14-year-old AJ Madison brought his pressure washer’s roaring engine to life with a cracked spark plug wire.
For the Beverly Hills teenager and owner/operator of AJM Enterprises, this was the start of another job as a vehicle detailer.
“My favorite thing to do is car detailing because I like taking care of people’s cars,” AJ explains why he started his mobile business about six months ago. “I don’t want them driving dirty cars, so I go and clean them.”
AJ picked up his sprayer, turned to the large SUV parked in the driveway, and hosed down the vehicle’s body. He then attached a special detergent to the nozzle of his washing machine, allowing him to simultaneously spray and soak the SUV with a combination of soap and water.
Shawn Nicoleau, owner of All-Star Auto Detailing, called out to AJ and reminded his speedy protégé to be patient with how much of the vehicle he can wash at once.
“He tries to do everything at once,” Nicoleau said, laughing. “You have to do it section by section.”
AJ started on the roof using a step stool and worked his way down to the rims. He used a telescopic brush to scrub every inch of the SUV’s frame before rinsing off the suds and drying the vehicle with a cloth.
He cleaned the exterior of the SUV just as meticulously as he vacuumed and polished the interior.
As he moved from one vehicle part to the next, AJ made sure he used the appropriate chemicals from his stack of tools and equipment purchased with his company’s earnings and budgeted every dollar as an investment to further his company.
This included a trailer transporting a huge tank that served as a portable water source. AJ’s next plan is to buy an enclosed trailer to store and transport more gear.
‘He’ll put it back into his business in a moment; He doesn’t screw up with frivolous things,” said AJ’s grandmother, Pamela Rutzebeck. “I had no idea that getting into this business is quite expensive and he knows exactly what he needs.”
AJM Enterprises offers more than just mobile vehicle preparation. AJ also does pressure washing, landscaping, garages, transportation and other odd jobs.
Text or call AJ at 352-634-3953 to schedule an appointment.
AJ said he had several regular customers and took a job washing the entire fleet of vehicles for a Dunnellon-area company.
“That’s a great thing for a 14-year-old boy who has a lot of energy,” Rutzebeck said, “and a lot of free time to channel that energy, and he has a lot of hopes and dreams. ”
AJ said he wants to build the reputation of AJM Enterprises with the positive reviews that customers keep him busy every day.
“I get up, load my trailer and drive off,” he said, “and I already know what I’m doing.”
After the seventh grader finishes his daily study at Lecanto Middle School, where he is an AB honors list student each quarter, AJ also supports Nicoleau, his mentor, with his job.
“He’s very, very motivated, very outgoing, and he’s determined to learn,” Nicoleau said of AJ. “He’s ready, he’s definitely ready; he has this drive, he is determined.”
AJ said young and aspiring business owners like him “should have a good attitude” if they want to launch a profitable career that works for themselves.
Rutzebeck said her grandson got his entrepreneurial talents from his grandmother and mother, who both started local businesses.
When she was 14, AJ’s mother, Briana Harrison, placed an ad in the Chronicle’s classifieds section as a “motivated teenager” who would become a babysitter, housekeeper and pet sitter.
“His mother is a hard worker who has built a business for the last seven years,” Rutzebeck said of AJ. “He’s been watching that and he sees what you can achieve if you make an effort and work hard.”
“I was like, ‘Man, I needed to get out there and make some money,'” AJ added. “I just felt like I could be a businessman too because we’re all going to be a family of business people.”
Harrison said AJM Enterprises taught her son, who has special needs, to learn the financial and life skills he needs to one day become self-sufficient.
“You need somewhere to start preparing for your future,” she said. “He now has to figure out how to make money to survive.”
It is AJ’s dream to one day be a dump truck driver like his father who owns a local trucking company.
Rutzebeck said she hopes Citrus County communities will support their young self-starters like AJ to strengthen the local workforce.
“Support the youth in our area who want to build businesses and build a future,” she said. “Those who can create for themselves should be encouraged to do so.”
“All I know is that I’m a hard worker,” AJ said.