Age has never been a barrier for those with the ambition and drive to take advantage of an opportunity, especially in the boating world. Such is the case with one talented young entrepreneur, Zane Bailey of Port Aransas, Texas. Owner of Zane's Boat Washing, he signed his first contract to wash a 23' Boston Whaler at the age of 11 and now cares for 35 boats. Kindred entrepreneurial spirit Barry Berho?, CEO of Shurhold Industries, sat down with Zane recently to learn his story and source of inspiration.
BB: Zane, how did you get started in this industry? How did you come to run your own detailing company at 16 years old?
ZB: Well, I've always been involved in everything to do with the boating industry. I've worked the deck of charter boats, caught bait for the fleet and of course washed plenty of boats. I'd like to give a big shoutout to my parents, who gave me a lot of freedom to work and pursue the things I love. I started washing a 23' Boston Whaler for Fox Yacht Sales as a favor to my dad and it just kind of grew from there. People would see me washing boats and ask about getting on the schedule.
At that point, I got organized and had my mom help me with getting the business set up. It's more than just washing the boats. We had to make sure we had the right insurance, create a logo and figure out a schedule that would work around school. She made sure I was involved in the entire process and I learned a lot. From there, I worked on expanding the business inside the marina by washing more boats for Fox Yachts. It actually got busy enough to bring on a friend of mine, Joe Cruz, to work with me. As of now, we manage 35 boats and are adding more every year.
BB: How did you get the experience needed to do this job? I've known plenty of teenagers I wouldn't trust to wash my boat, much less compound or wax it. What sets you apart?
ZB: I had a lot of practice long before someone paid me to wash a boat or trust me to run a polisher. After all, I've been washing the family boat for as long as I can remember, so a standard detail is second nature at this point. As for compounding and waxing, I practiced on my boat to make sure I had the skills needed to work on a customer's boat. I think the results spoke for themselves, as many of my clients saw my work and asked to be put on the schedule right then and there!
BB: Why is boat detailing important? Why should customers invest in a service like yours?
ZB: Boats are supposed to be about having fun and enjoying your time on the water. If you don't have the time to maintain the boat yourself, you don't want to spend your time washing and waxing it when you could be out using the boat. What's more, if you don't maintain your boat, it will start to lose value as the cost of restoration gets higher and higher. It's a lot easier to wash a boat than it is to compound the oxidation o?! When you weigh the cost, a service like mine isn't that expensive compared to the time you would need to spend maintaining it yourself.
BB: What tools do you use for the majority of your detailing work?
ZB: It's simple: quality products make my job easier and the results better. I love the versatility of Shurhold handles and how you have a brush for every surface on the boat. Shurhold chamois towels and mops speed up work by holding an incredible amount of water. And your chemicals are great; Serious Multipurpose Cleaner is a time-saver on non-skid, for example, while Pro Polish lets me finish a boat in a fraction of the time it takes with paste-style wax.
BB: What do you like about your job? What would you say to convince someone to try it?
ZB: Beyond the fact that I get to work outside on boats, I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing a boat get transformed and cleaned up. The customer's reaction is really what seals the deal for me. Seeing them happy and satisfied with the results is amazing. And I think that's only heightened by the fact that it's my own company, you know?
BB: Any tips for people taking care of their own boats?
ZB: It's so important to keep a layer of wax on your boat. I know it's not everyone's favorite job, but the wax will keep the gelcoat from getting damaged by the sun and make cleaning so much easier. Preventive maintenance is always cheaper than repair! Also, when washing, make sure to start high on the boat and work your way down. And don't fill up the bucket with water until you're at the top! It's a lot easier to carry an empty five-gallon bucket as opposed to a full one.
BB: It's refreshing to see a work ethic like yours at such a young age. The marine industry has always been driven by the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, and that is clearly alive and well in you. Where do you go from here? What's next for Zane's Boat Washing?
ZB: More boats! We're always getting new customers on the schedule. At some point, I'll have to bring on some more people to meet demand and make sure they're trained properly. We've also started to do a little bit of mechanical maintenance as well such as working on bilge pumps, lights and other basic parts. I could see the business evolving into a comprehensive boat maintenance service as we continue to expand. Time will tell!
Dedicated to educating boat owners, Shurhold provides key tips for boat value preservation at www.shurhold.com. Inventor of the One Handle Does It All system, Shurhold manufactures specialty care items and accessories to clean, polish and detail.