Columbus, Ohio USA
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Extra Terrestrial Beams Up
Clean, Shiny Cars
By Doug Maag
At the end of the film E.T., the small, loveable little alien leaves his beloved Elliott and is beamed aboard the mother ship for his trip home.
Many in the Short North might assumed something similar happened with Ellis Terrell when his Extra Terrestrial Auto Detail Center suddenly disappeared from near First and High Street.
But rest assured, Terrell, or E.T. as his friends call him, is still “abducting” automobiles and returning them as clean as he possibly can to their owners in a matter of hours.
“I have learned that if you have a real good, strong customer base, they will come to you anywhere,” said Terrell from his new three-bay garage at 1167 Mt. Pleasant Ave. “[The move] was a change in walk-in clientele, I have learned that.”
In his 10-year history servicing the Short North and surrounding areas, Terrell has become as well known for the name of his business as he has for detailing vehicles. Under the gaze of several drawings, paintings and small plastic replicas of E.T., he talks about his plans to continue in the Short North, including obtaining a new sign to replace the one stolen before the move.
With the advent of winter, Terrell is encouraging customers to prepare and protect their paint jobs from the oxidizing road salts that ruin pigments. He said that while people spend money on personal grooming for themselves at upper-priced salons, the buffing, waxing and polishing that could maintain the value of their vehicles can remain alien to them.
While the shampooing and vacuuming of interior carpeting as well the chemical treatment of the various interiors he closely encounters may seem light years away from a trade secret, he tends to remain tight-lipped about the details of his business.
With a velvet E.T. reminiscent of a velvet Elvis looking on, he talks only etherically about how he uses his arsenal of air guns, air tools, small brushes, shop vacuums and carpet steam cleaners to probe awaiting vehicles free of substances like tar, tree sap and other environmental invaders. He even has a way to add the elusive “new car” scents to vehicles.
“I have always enjoyed cars, particularly clean, shiny automobiles,” said Terrell, who admits to a special enthusiasm for the more expensive Mercedes, Lexus and Infinity models. “I love high-end cars, I need more of them. They are fun to work with.”
Terrell and his two assistants can beam in up to 10 auto details and 15 washes a day. He contacts with several area car dealers, and, as a motorcycle owner himself, even has the patience for the detailed work on two-wheeled cycles.
Terrell, a former factory worker who used to build military aircraft, transformed what had been his hobby for so many years into his business. He said while he trusts his employees to get a job done right, it’s obvious that his approach is hands-on, something that is almost “other-worldly” in today’s impersonal service industry.
“You would just rather talk to someone one-on-one,” said Terrell.
Extra Terrestrial offers free pick-up and delivery in the Short North and surrounding areas For information about current specials call (614) 294-6909.
© 2005 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.