Keith McAtee, owner of Grime 2 Shine, has seen extremes in the automotive detailing business.
Montana roads may lead to adventure, but that adventure is not without dirt, dust, gravel, tar and maybe food and beverage spills that can mess up a vehicle.
“I’ve removed skunk smell out of car. I’ve removed bear spray that blew up inside of cars,” McAtee said, adding that cleaning up animal parts in the aftermath of hitting a deer is also something he takes care of.
“You’d be surprised what you find in vehicles,” McAtee said.
On a recent Monday at his shop, located at 2243 U.S. 2 in Evergreen, McAtee was on the phone coordinating with a repair shop to schedule a customer’s car.
“I do whatever I need to, to make it easier for our customers,” McAtee said, adding, “I offer a free valet service as long as it’s in Kalispell.”
Auto detailing typically involves deep cleaning the exterior and interior of a vehicle and may include restoration, such as a paint scratch, for example. Grime 2 Shine offers a variety of options at different price points. He said the benefits of auto detailing are preserving a car’s resale value and protecting finishes to cleaning bacteria.
As to how often people should consider detailing their vehicle, he said that depends on how much time people spend behind the wheel. McAtee recommends the average car owner get it done twice a year in spring and fall.
“If you don’t use the vehicle a whole bunch, once a year is fine,” he said.
He said at the least, the best thing people can do to protect the vehicle exterior is waxing it.
“A wax coat on the outside of your paint is a protective layer from the environment,” he said.
He said the worst thing for a vehicle’s interior is cigarette smoke.
Working on vehicles is something McAtee has done since he was young.
“All my life I’ve been a car guy,” he said. “My dad had a Mustang when he was young and I started restoring Mustangs when I was a kid ... paint, clear down to putting new interiors in ’em.”
One car he wished he had held onto was a white 1967 Mustang Fastback that he drove in high school and college.
“Now, I look back at what that car was worth and I just shake my head for letting it go,” McAtee said.
Now, he has a couple of Mustangs, a Firebird and a “little toy,” a blue 1972 F100 that is pictured on his business cards.
McAtee opened Grime 2 Shine about six years. Prior to that, he was on the road selling car-wash equipment and supplies throughout the Northwest, but he put down some roots to be home more for his family.
About a year ago Grime 2 Shine expanded into windshield repair and replacement after acquiring an auto-glass business next door.
“It is a good fit for us. People can bring their car to us and we can repair/install the windshield, recondition the vehicle and clean the interior,” he said.
There was a learning curve that continues as more technology is built into windshields, primarily in the form of sensors.
As his business has grown, McAtee now spends most of his time tending to the day-to-day business operations.
“I still get my hands dirty, though,” he said smiling.
For more information call 406-393-2262.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.