PALMER — Jim Beach built Car Deets into a business that helped restore vehicles while at the same time restoring lives.
Beach says that he was convinced to start Car Deets in 2013 by his son who was appalled at the amount of homeless youth struggling in the Valley. Though a fire that began in the attic on Tuesday morning likely ends Car Deets’ operation on Colony Way in Palmer, Beach is confident that Car Deets will find a new location to serve the community of Palmer.
“He came home and I said I can’t just stand by and watch this without doing anything. These are my peers,” Beach said.
Beach built an empire by giving opportunities to youth in need of work. Since opening in Palmer in 2013, Car Deets has opened locations in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Kenai, Olathe, Missouri and Phoenix, Arizona. Beach opened the Car Deets location in Olathe and Phoenix a year ago and never believed that Car Deets would grow into what is has become. Beach brought the first vehicle steam cleaner to the state of Alaska and also introduced ceramic pro coatings.
“When people get their car cleaned it just gives them a brighter day. They feel better about life,” Beach said.
Out of 4,000 dealerships that offer ceramic pro coatings, Car Deets in Palmer performed the highest volume in North America. Due not only to the high quality of services offered at Car Deets, but also the aspect of helping youths in need, Beach said that Car Deets services over 7,000 customers in Alaska. When searching for new employees, Beach does not ask typical interview questions.
“What is your life goal? What do you want to have happen? What do you want to change? Who do you want to be?” Beach said. “It’s probably more humbling than anything else… We’re going to put them to work no matter what, but we’re just getting to know them.”
The fire that began in the attic of Car Deets just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday has got the Palmer Car Deets location down, but not out. Beach has been visiting other properties and hopes to be relocated before the end of the year. In searching for a new location, Beach is hoping to expand what Car Deets can offer. A larger building Beach has been looking at would be able to service cleaning and detailing operations on boats and RV’s with four other cars in the shop at the same time. The location that caught on fire on Colony Way had only two garage bays, limiting the amount of service Car Deets could offer in the small space. Beach also mentioned that detailing vehicles in the winter became difficult as the vehicles themselves took quite a while to warm up inside the garage.
“They had to have something to bridge the gap between being homeless with no support, to actually understanding how to get a job and how to work,” Beach said. “We attempted to give them a fresh start give them a marketable skill and with many of them it worked.”
Beach’s son runs the location in Missouri and a former technician moved to Arizona to start their sixth location. While not all of Car Deets’ employees were homeless youth at one point, Beach routinely takes calls from Valley Pathways and Burchell High School in order to hire new employees. Beach said that he believes many of his customers choose Car Deets due to the fact that they are helping troubled youth by getting their car cleaned. Beach told the story of a young mother who was sleeping in her car with her young child. She told him during her interview that she hoped to be able to survive the night.
“To be able to have one days impact on that young lady, you know that’s just pretty humbling to have the opportunity,” Beach said.
Beach also hired a young man to work at Car Deets in Palmer who had been couch surfing with his mother and siblings. After he began work, Beach was able to teach him how to drive at 19 years of age.
“When he got his first paycheck he was going to buy pizza and flowers for his mom and his brothers and sisters and he couldn’t wait to be able to contribute to his family,” Beach said.
Beach was visiting his son in Olathe when the fire broke out and has been busy since his return in searching for a new location. Beach hopes that with a new location, Car Deets can increase the types of services they can offer and the volume of customers they can serve. However, Beach has not found a new home for Car Deets as of yet.
“I think it’s a positive thing that commercial space is really hard to find in Palmer,” Beach said. “Our family feels the outpouring of care and concern and love that we’ve gotten by phone and Facebook, emails and texts.”
Through partnerships with local schools and MyHouse, Beach has been able to provide an opportunity for youth looking to contribute to society and build a successful business along the way. Beach donated $5,000 worth of car detailing coupons to MyHouse at the Rotary Uncorked event last weekend.
“We feel like it’s probably the right time because of the investment that the Valley has made in us and in our vision and our goals. It’s time for us to make a bigger investment,” Beach said.