The 15th annual Mobile Tech Auto Recon Expo (MTE) took place January 28-30 in Orlando, FL. It was held again at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center. This convention caters to the mobile (and fixed) automotive reconditioning industry, including detailing, paint, paintless dent removal, interior surface repair, and accessories.

You may remember from previous years’ “MTE Wrap-Ups” that the International Detailing Association (IDA) has had an increasingly larger presence at this show, and this year is no exception. The partnership between MTE and IDA is stronger than ever. The IDA provided two days’ worth of educational seminars, a roundtable focus session, multiple certification offerings, a detailer’s get-together, and an extra large booth on the tradeshow floor that included a “detailer’s lounge.”

For those who couldn’t make it, I offer this summary of the convention events, with an obvious bias toward the detailing side.


This year, the IDA procured 600 square feet of booth space that included a “detailer’s lounge” (sponsored by IDA Supplier Member P&S Sales) where weary expo goers could sit on luxurious couches and chat with other professionals. A product showcase allowed attendees to examine the wares of several manufacturers. And, as usual, a cadre of IDA board members and executive director Sheryle Hazard were available to answer questions about and discuss the future of the IDA.


This year, the IDA was in possession of one of the convention hall seminar rooms for two full days. We started with four one-hour seminars on Thursday morning during MTE’s “Education Day.” Topics included Interior Detailing Tips, Tricks, and Basics; Road Map to Success — How to Start and Build a Successful Detail Business; The Pros and Cons of Dealer Work; and How to Train Your Staff.

On Friday morning, we continued with five additional one-hour seminars. Topics covered were Making Your Shop More Efficient; Beyond Detailing: How to Double Your Per-Vehicle Revenue; Branding Your Business; Cost Versus Value: Increasing Your Profitability; and The 4 Parts of Being a Professional Detailer.

In the afternoon, the room was converted into 12 roundtables, each of which was moderated by a subject-matter expert. Attendees had the opportunity to spend at least 15 minutes at each roundtable in a peer discussion of one of 12 different topics covered. Refreshments were included, thanks to sponsorship from IDA supplier members Autogeek, Professional Detailing Products, and RaggTopp.


On Thursday afternoon, the IDA hosted a “Certification-in-a-Day” event taught by Jeremy Harding, David Pedre, and Dan Yaworski. These events include a comprehensive seminar that presents all of the information necessary to pass the IDA Certified Detailer exams, after which, all 10 exams are administered and graded on-site, yielding a virtually guaranteed pass. Seven detailers were awarded the designation of IDA Certified Detailer that afternoon.

The second phase of the IDA Certification Program, called “Skills Validation” (CD-SV), requires the Certified Detailer to actually demonstrate detailing proficiency in four areas — Prep Wash, Interior Detailing, Vehicle Paint, and Final Detailing. This is an intensive testing situation that requires at least two hours with an IDA recognized trainer. The IDA offered this testing at MTE on Saturday, January 30, and with the help of eight IDA CD-SV volunteers under the supervision of recognized trainers Bob Phillips and Tom Palancia, no less than 25 Certified Detailers received their CD-SV designation. Thanks to this year’s sponsors of the SV event, IDA supplier members Autogeek, Dr. Beasley’s, P & S Sales, Professional Detailing Products (PDP), and Flex North America.


The Annual Business Meeting and Detailers’ Reception took place in our dedicated seminar room, as usual. Free food was available (sponsored by IDA supplier members Dr. Beasleys, Rupes, Simoniz, and Ziebart) as well as a no-host bar. This event, which lasts about two hours, involves much pomp-and-circumstance and is, I would venture to say, the most formal proceeding of our entire industry. It is impressive to see so many industry leaders and well-known professional detailers in the room at one time.

Four years ago, this event attracted 19 people. This year, the room was packed to standing-room-only with over 100 attendees.

The meeting was called to order by 2015 IDA president Rob Schruefer, and began with a presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation to Kevin Halewood, organizer of the expo, and daughter Kara for their efforts to support the IDA. This was followed by some IDA formalities, including introducing the 2016 board of directors and thanking outgoing board members for their service.

Keith Duplessie gave the “state-of-the-industry” address, which, filled with optimism, pointed out the recent surge in advancements in technology, increased level of professionalism among operators, and a bright future for the IDA.

IDA executive director Sheryle Hazard and Rob Schruefer presented the state-of-the-IDA. Sheryle noted the accomplishments of the IDA last year, including the introduction of the Phase II Certification (Skills Validation). She also noted the strength of our current leadership structure, which relies more and more on committees to investigate and report to the board. Rob shared the vision for 2016, which includes continuing to strengthen the current programs as well as to establish a consumer education program.

Rob also echoed Sheryle’s mention of the importance of IDA committees and encouraged IDA members to get involved in the association by volunteering for committees. I will second that — if you are concerned about your industry or more specifically what the IDA is doing about it, get involved. Contact the IDA headquarters and ask them how you can help.


Perhaps the part of the Annual Business Meeting that is the most fun is the presentation of the annual awards. Kevin Halewood first presented the Mobile Tech Expo annual detailing-related awards, which were as follows:

• Accessories Person of the Year, Kevin Davis, Detailer’s Helper
• Lifetime Achievement Award, Rick Goldstein, RaggTopp
• Detailing Person of the Year, Prentice St. Clair, Detail in Progress Inc.

Next it was time to present IDA’s annual awards. Awards program sponsors Bob Phillips of P&S Sales and Dan Baker of Ziebart made the following presentations:
• Detailer of the Year, Larry Kosilla, AMMO NYC
• Mobile Detailer of the Year, Jim Thomas, Onsite Shine
• Detail Shop of the Year, Jeff Emerald, Auto Image
• Detail Supplier of the Year, Kevin Davis, Detailer’s Helper
• Industry Leadership Award, Bob Phillips, P&S Sales
• Outstanding Service Award, Keith Duplessie, Big Man Washes

The final award of the evening was the most special. Keith Duplessie, holding back tears, gave a wonderful snapshot of a life that has been dedicated to our industry for decades, as he introduced IDA Lifetime Achievement Award winner R. L. “Bud” Abraham of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems. I can think of no one more deserving of this first awarding of this honor.

It shows how far we have come in our industry that we have the capability to recognize industry leaders in a truly meaningful way. Keep up your efforts as a professional, both in your business and in support of the industry, and perhaps YOU will be the recipient of one of these awards next year.


An exciting part of the evening was the unveiling of the IDA Founder’s Club members. This is an elite group of IDA members that have stepped up with a significant financial and personal investment to the longevity of our association and the industry that it represents.

From the IDA website: “IDA Founder’s Club membership is presented only to our most active and longest tenured members. It is comprised of only 15 suppliers and operators that each contributes toward the Founder’s Endowment Fund. The Founder’s Endowment Fund is stewarded by the members of the club to further detailing education and training for future detailers. Each year the club is presented with a list of worthy scholarship/endowment recipients from which to choose. Founder’s Endowment funds can only be dispersed for the purpose of funding these scholarships, and only with a vote of the Founder’s Club membership.” The club members are:
• Attention to Details, Ltd., Renny and Diane Doyle
•, Mike Phillips, CD-SV
• Classic Appreciation World Class Auto Detailing, Greg Swett, CD-SV
• Detail in Progress Inc., Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RT
• DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems Inc., Bud Abraham
• Dr. Beasley’s Inc., Jim Lafeber, CD
• FLEX North America Inc., Chris Metcalf
• Lake Country Mfg., David Patterson
• Optimum Polymer Technologies Inc., David Ghodoussi
• P & S Sales, Bob Phillips, CD-SV, RT
• Professional Detailing Products, Michael Dickson, CD-SV, RT
• RAGGTOPP, Rick Goldstein
• RUPES SpA, Francesco Ginocchio
• Simoniz USA Inc., Thomas Palancia, CD-SV
• Ziebart Corporation, Daniel Baker, CD


As the chair of the IDA tradeshow and education committee for 2015, I am proud (can you tell?) of my committee’s accomplishments in 2015. The culmination of the efforts of myself, Keith Duplessie, Mike Phillips, Rob Schruefer, and others is the spectacular program that IDA put on at Mobile Tech Expo. We also thank Kevin Halewood for his unending cooperation to help us make this event a success. Next year’s MTE will likely be even bigger for detailers, and I suggest you start making your plans now to attend.


Prentice St. Clair is an International Detailing Association Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer. As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has been providing training and consulting to car washes and detail shops since 1999. He is available at (619) 701-1100 or