Give Dad the Gift of Cleanliness: FM’s Teen-Run Car Detailing Businesses Do the Dirty Work – INFORUM | Car Plazas

Editor’s Note: The following stories are part of

The Forum’s Kid Bosses series,

which highlights children and young people who are already entrepreneurs.

FARGO – Some dads love washing and waxing their own cars and detailing the engine with a cotton swab.

Some dads definitely don’t.

For the latter, vehicle detailing can be the perfect Father’s Day gift. Leave it to the experts to dig out those petrified fries from between the seats and scrub those gummy cup holders.

Here are three enterprising teenagers running their own detailing businesses: Oscar Bergeson and Ethan Pepsin of Car Kings and Griffin Cassola of Top Shelf Detailing, LLC, Fargo.

Fargo Teen handles the top shelf treatment

For Griffin Cassola, car detailing was in his DNA.

As a young boy, he stored his matchbox cars and toys in neat rows. As he got older, he forced his younger sister to remove her shoes before she got into his car. Meanwhile, he grew up watching his father Stephen Cassola, a little car enthusiast, meticulously cleaning, washing and waxing all of the family vehicles.

“I’ve always liked keeping things clean,” says Cassola, a quiet, conscientious Oak Grove junior. “Especially cars.”

Now he’s turned his knack for immaculate polishes and immaculate interiors into a side hustle.

A year and a half ago, Griffin officially introduced Top Shelf Detailing. The name not only stands for high-end service, but also refers to the top part of a hockey goal – a nod to Griffin’s own career on the ice.

The young entrepreneur has cleaned everything from a fleet of older farm trucks that have never been waxed to a $250,000 Lamborghini. He also spent his portion of Saturday morning cleaning Lyft and Uber vehicles where partying customers had thrown up the night before.

He schedules his own appointments, markets via social media and Google Business, and has made enough money to buy two fancy used cars – his father’s old BMW 328 and a rare 2003 Audi RS6.

When Griffin first opened its doors, at least one customer backed up and drove away when they realized he was a teenager operating out of his parents’ garage. Now he occasionally gets a skeptical customer when they see he’s not grown up, “but once they get the car back, it’s fine,” he says.

Top Shelf’s Google page is now filled with five-star reviews and it’s currently been booked for over a month.

In the winter, the heated Cassola garage is large enough to handle weekend jobs. But his detailing really kicks into high gear in the summer when he spends his workweek playing hockey one day a week and cleaning the other four cars.


Griffin Cassola operates Top Shelf Detailing in West Fargo.

David Samson / The Forum

While Griffin’s values ​​ethic and eye for detail have boosted his business, so has his price tag. Because Top Shelf isn’t a full-time company with multiple employees and lots of overhead, it can afford to charge 20 to 30 percent less than a large operation. So an all-inclusive detail that would normally cost $500 could be as low as $300-$350 at Top Shelf.

“We also want to keep it lean for the customer,” says Stephen.

Stephen says he and his wife Kristi have always believed in their children paying for themselves.

As Griffin got older, he knew he had to find a job. When he thought about it carefully, cleaning cars seemed more interesting to him than working an hourly job for minimum wage. “I wanted to do my own thing,” he says.

Stephen filed Top Shelf’s filings with the state because Griffin was not old enough to register for an LLC.

In the beginning, he also helped Griffin clean cars. But a year and a half and 150 cars later, you no longer need it. “He eclipsed me and my abilities,” says Stephen. “He’s doing it from A to Z now. It really is his. And the LLC would be his if he were old enough.”

Griffin’s stamp is on every tier of the store – even in the Top Shelf logo, which features a mythological griffin.

Throughout he has managed to display a thrift and an eye for the far-sighted that some adults could learn from. His mother says he saves “99 percent” of what he earns. Some of the money has helped him buy more professional equipment, such as B. commercial polishing machines, but he also invests his money.


Griffin Cassola details a vehicle as part of his Top Shelf Detailing business in West Fargo.

Griffin’s smaller, more flexible operation gives him the ability to interact directly with customers. After a detail, he often walks the customer through the car – pointing out any special treatments needed or explaining why some paint issues were particularly difficult.

He also emails customers a week or two after detailing to make sure everything is satisfactory. If they find a smudged mirror or a missed spot, he wants to make it right.

“We can deliver cars, we can pick up cars. Most companies can’t have your car delivered to your home when you’re at work,” says Griffin.

Griffin sees himself doing this during high school and maybe during summers of college – if he chooses to attend the local school.

“I like it, it’s fun,” he says. “I make good money. It’s a different job because you get to interact with people, so it goes a little deeper. You get a lot more skills.”

The car kings come to you

Have foam, will travel.

That could be the slogan for two Moorhead High Seniors’ new detailing business, Car Kings, which will bring its pressure washers and elbow grease right to customers’ doorsteps.

The customer only has to provide the water connection, the driveway and of course the car. Owners Oscar Bergeson and Ethan Pepsin take care of everything else.

Car Kings.jpg

Ethan Pepsin (left) and Oscar Bergeson have already built a strong customer base with their auto detailing business, Car Kings.

Contributed / Car Kings

The idea for a mobile car detailing company arose out of necessity. “We don’t have the money to invest in a store,” says Bergeson.

While this has limited their operating season to summer and fall, it has also differentiated them as a company. “I think people see it as more convenient than having to drive somewhere and leave it there for over six hours,” says Pepsin. “And the next thing they know, they need a ride to pick it up.”

The two friends launched Car Kings last spring after Bergeson got his own car. He went to a local parts store to buy car wash supplies, then realized “that’s something you can do for other people.”

Her first summer was like an extended soft opening. They didn’t market much and mostly focused on cleaning cars for family and friends.

But over time, they stepped up their efforts: They posted before-and-after photos on their new business page, attended Moorhead Business Association events, and reserved booths at car shows and cruise nights — where people had to share their phone numbers to share Sign up for free car wash door prices.

Sometimes the best advertisement was simply arriving in a new neighborhood to wash cars. One day while I was working on a car in a client’s driveway, four different people came up and asked them what they were doing. Each person left with a Car Kings business card.

Your efforts have paid off. “We’ve been very busy,” says Bergeson.

Sometimes almost too busy. After posting about their services on the Moorhead=Fantastic Facebook page earlier this year, 40 people responded with appointment requests. “It was definitely a lot of work,” says Bergeson.

Keeping his cool and organized, he scheduled clients through Google Calendar, double-checked that every request was responded to, and used the “Favorites” option on Facebook to indicate who was scheduled.

While they detail a car inside and out from bumper to bumper, the one they are most asked about is the interior cleaning.

Through their own experience and the many tutorials on YouTube, they’ve learned how to vacuum, scrub and wipe every inch of a car’s interior. This includes headliner cleaning, floor mat pressure washing, and carpet steam cleaning and vacuuming.

“It helps to be a little bit obsessive-compulsive,” Pepsin says, smiling.

You’ve already cleaned enough vehicles to learn some valuable lessons. Like the fact that wood shavings and dog hair are a hassle to vacuum as both have a way of digging into the carpet.

The working partners charge around $250 for a sedan’s interior cleaning and $300 for an exterior cleaning. An SUV or truck will cost $50 more, although they are already considering price adjustments.

For one thing, they learned that a three-row SUV is a lot more work than a two-row SUV.

You can clean up to three cars in a day, although that day can last from 9am to 10pm. “The days that we’re building three cars are pretty tedious,” says Bergeson.

Part of your profits goes to leisure, part goes back to buying more gear for the business, and part goes into savings. “We both like to go fishing, but we have a company account that we can put a percentage into every time,” says Pepsin.

“Most of the time I would place us between savers and savers,” says Bergeson.

Although neither of them have been lasered to a specific major, both say their car wash experience sparked their interest in entrepreneurship and business.

Even if Pepsin did one day work for an employer, he would still want a side job “just to have another stream of income.”
For now, they are content to keep growing their business. Both hope to launch their website by mid-July, which could also be used for booking appointments.

And until then, they will continue to take appointments manually and clean vehicles again.

“My favorite part is when we’re done with it, the owners see it and stuff,” Pepsin says.

“I don’t feel like I’m working,” says Bergeson. “It’s fulfilling.”

To schedule an appointment with Top Shelf Detailing, please visit

Top shelf detailing

on Facebook. To make an appointment with Car Kings visit their



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