Sharp Details, an airplane detailing business, has opened shop in Palm Beach County after nearly two decades serving aircraft owners in markets surrounding Washington and in the northeast.
For those without a private plane, the work is much like detailing a car.
But Sharp Details distinguishes itself because its employees are trained on each model of aircraft they work and know the important differences between washing a car and a jet, said Jim Garland, president and CEO.
Like knowing not to shoot water into the pitot tubes, which is used to measure airspeed, and being sure to hand wash the landing gear, so that it doesn’t corrode.
“You have a $25 million airplane and you have some kid cleaning it? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Garland said. “You have to know the aircraft you have to be very well trained.”
Garland launched his business in 1991 detailing boats. It was then called Barnacle Jim’s Boat Service. Three years later, he switched to cars and planes. Sharp Details was born. Now he specializes in aircraft.
Since January, the company has offered cleaning and support services at Palm Beach International, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale Executive, Fort Lauderdale, Miami International and two other Florida airports.
Garland’s staff provides interior and exterior cleaning, interior detailing, leather and carpet cleaning and stain removal. They also wash, wax and offer polymer paint protection and brightwork polishing – which pretty much means polishing the shiny surfaces.
They can also stock the plane, manage its stock, have linens cleaned, do dishes and provide various kinds of support.
Having your plane regularly detailed is “not only an aesthetic thing,” Garland said.
“If you can extend the life of the aircraft, you can save hundreds of thousand of dollars on repainting or refurbishing the interior,” he said.
It may last for six or seven years instead of five.
Garland’s new Florida business had added four jobs to the economy: three for cleaners and manager spot.
Cleaners earn $12 to $16 an hour. Garland plans to add as many as a dozen more in the next year to year and half, he said. Staffers submit to criminal background checks and screening for drugs and alcohol before being hired. The company also uses random testing.
While private planes have come to symbolize excess in some circles, for his clients, Garland said, they are important business tools.
“The thought that its a bunch of Bernie Madoffs drinking champagne and eating caviar is as far from the truth as possible,” he said.
Sometimes executives have to get to appointments in remote places not close to large airports. Other times they need the flexibility to fly at a moment’s notice.
“It’s an extremely imporant tool for them to do their business,” he said.
And Sharp Details, is an important tool, Garland said, is keeping them flying.