With prices on the rise, new GRCC automotive detailing class builds in-demand skills, helps drivers hold on to cars longer

Would it surprise you to know the car wash and auto detailing business is a $12-$14 billion industry in the United States?

Chad Lodenstein knows.

He’s head of the Automotive Department at in the GRCC School of Workforce Development. He’s also a graduate of the program and used his associate degree to springboard to a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Management from Ferris State and then a career in the auto industry before returning to our campus as an instructor in 2002.

And this fall he plans to offer GRCC’s first-ever course in automotive detailing. He can’t wait.

“The used vehicle market is so high right now that people are willing to put more money into the car they have,” he said. “Especially here in the Midwest, if we can keep the salt off, keep those interiors nice, it’s a good investment. So, the industry is growing, and there is good money to be made.”

Lodenstein said that when he returned to GRCC to teach, he did so because he believes the college is “the best place ever. GRCC gave me so much. The chance to give back was too good to pass up. I want to see our students succeed, and everything I do is for that goal.”

The new course fits right in with helping GRCC students succeed, he said.

“My hope is that the course will appeal to people who don’t necessarily want to have a wrench in their hands,” he said. “It might even be interesting to people who are not part of our (automotive) program. I could see business students take it if they are interested in maybe setting up their own detailing shop or getting involved in the detailing industry. This can be a great side hustle for people.”

The new course at GRCC will be 45 contact hours: one three-hour class a week for 15 weeks. It comes as a result of a former student’s suggestion, Lodenstein said.

“I was visiting a student on an internship a couple of summers ago,” he recalled. “The student told me, ‘I really wish the college had a detailing class.’ It got me thinking, and I started doing some research. And I thought, ‘Yeah, detailing is something we should be able to do.’”

To get ready for this fall, Lodenstein went back to school.

He spent a week in North Carolina, in the classroom eight hours a day, taking a class offered by CARETECH, a detailing training center. He got a hands-on education in interior and exterior cleaning and polishing, sanding and leveling paint correction, ceramic coatings and more.

“Taking the class gave me a great structure for what we will offer our students,” Lodenstein said. “It was really set up well, and the materials were great. Plus, they will be a great resource for me, and for our students, going forward too.

Being back in the classroom as a student was both exciting and exhausting, he admitted.

“It was a great reminder for me,” he said. “I remembered how tiring it can be to be a student. It’s always good for me to be reminded how students have to take in so much material that is new to them and the ways I can be sensitive to their lives and their workloads.”

And though it has been a lot of work to plan for and establish the new course, Lodenstein said that as he was considering it and what it would take to bring it to the college, he kept thinking back to President Bill Pink.

“Dr. Pink always says that we need to be relevant and responsive,” he said. “This course seemed like a perfect fit for both categories.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

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