Meet Zane Bailey: Entrepreneur and Boat Detailer

Age has never been a barrier for those with the ambition and drive to take advantage of an opportunity. This is especially true in the boating community, where young men and women are found in every aspect of the business. One example is Zane Bailey, a resident of Port Aransas, Texas, and owner of Zane’s Boat Washing. As a part of a boating family, he got his first contract at the age of 11 and hasn’t stopped since. So how exactly does a kid washing a single 23’ Boston Whaler go to managing 35 individual boats, with more getting added all the time? Barry Berhoff, CEO of Shurhold Industries, sat down with him to find out and learn his story.

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Zane, how did you get started in this industry? How did you come to run your own detailing company at 16 years old?

“Well, I’ve always been involved in everything to do with the boating industry. I’ve worked the deck of charter boats, caught bait for the fleet, and of course washed plenty of boats. I’d like to give a big shoutout to my parents who gave me a lot of freedom to work and pursue the things I love. I started washing a single 23’ Boston Whaler for Fox Yacht Sales as a favor to my dad and it kinda just grew from there. People would see me washing boats and ask about getting on the schedule for a wash.

At that point, I got organized and had my mom help me with getting the business set up. It’s so much more than just washing the boats. We had to make sure we had the right insurance, create a logo, and figure out a schedule that would work around school. She made sure I was involved in the entire process and I learned a lot. From there, I worked on expanding the business inside the marina by washing more boats for Fox Yachts. It actually got busy enough to bring on a friend of mine, Joe Cruz, to work with me. As of now, we manage 35 boats and are adding more every year.”

How did you get the experience to do this job? I’ve known plenty of teenagers I wouldn’t trust to wash my boat, much less compound or wax it. What sets you apart?

“I had a lot of practice long before someone paid me to wash a boat or trust me to run a buffer. After all, I’ve been washing the family boat for as long as I can remember, so a standard detail is second nature at this point. As for the compounding and waxing, I practiced on my own boat to make sure I had the skills needed to work on a customer’s boat. I think the results spoke for themselves, as many of my clients saw the results of my work and asked to be put on the schedule right then and there!”

Why is boat detailing important? Why should customers invest in a service like yours?

“Boats are supposed to be about having fun and enjoying your time on the water. If you don’t have the time to maintain the boat yourself, you don’t want to spend the time you do have washing and waxing when you could be out there using the boat. And what’s more, if you don’t maintain your boat, it will start to depreciate in value as the cost of restoration gets higher and higher. It’s a lot easier to wash a boat than it is to compound the oxidation off! When you weigh the cost, a service like mine isn’t that expensive compared to the time you would need to spend maintaining your own boat”

Why did you choose Shurhold as the supplier for the majority of your detailing products?

“It’s simple: quality products make my job easier and the end results better. I love the versatility of your deck brushes and how you’ve got a brush for every surface on the boat. And the Handle Mate PFD has saved me $100s of dollars in dropped poles!”

“All of your chemicals are great, but I really love your Serious Multipurpose Cleaner. It’s perfect for cleaning the non-skid and makes that job one of the easiest on the boat. And your Pro Polish lets me wax a boat in a fraction of the time it takes for a traditional paste-style wax. The last thing that really stands out is your Deluxe Water Sprite chamois towels and mops. Those things soak up so much water, it’s crazy!”

What do you like about your job? What would you say to convince someone to try it?

“Beyond the fact that I get to work outside and on boats, no less, I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing a boat get transformed and cleaned up. The customer’s reaction is really what seals the deal for me. Seeing them happy and satisfied with the results is amazing. And I think that’s only heightened by the fact that it’s my own company, you know?”

Any tips for people taking care of their own boats?

“It’s so important to keep a layer of wax on your boat. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite job, but the wax will keep the gelcoat from getting damaged by the sun and make cleaning so much easier. Preventive maintenance is always cheaper than repair! Also, when washing, make sure to start high on the boat and work your way down. And don’t fill up the bucket with water until you’re at the top! It’s a lot easier to carry an empty five-gallon bucket as opposed to a full one.”

Where do you go from here? What’s next for Zane’s Boat Washing?

“More boats! We’re always getting new customers on the schedule. At some point, I’ll have to bring on some more people to meet demand and make sure they’re trained properly. We’ve also started to do a little bit of mechanical maintenance as well, like working on bilge pumps, lights, and other basic parts. I could see the business evolving into a comprehensive boat maintenance service as we continue to expand. Time will tell!”

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It’s refreshing to see a work ethic like Zane’s at such a young age. The marine industry has always been driven by the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, and that is clearly alive and well in this young man. Shurhold wishes him well in his venture and we’re sure it’s not the last we will hear from Zane’s Boat Washing!

As always, Shurhold is here to help keep your boat, truck, car, or RV Clean-N-Simple!

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