Love of cars turns recent Foran High grads into business owners

From left, Gary Saffersein, Dilahn Isaku and Tyler Borer of TDG Auto Detailing, in Milford, Conn. Nov. 29, 2021.

From left, Gary Saffersein, Dilahn Isaku and Tyler Borer of TDG Auto Detailing, in Milford, Conn. Nov. 29, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — A passion for cars has turned into a small business for three 2020 Foran High School graduates.

Gary Safferstein, Dilahn Isaku and Tyler Borer started TDG AutoDetailing, a mobile auto detailing small business.

“I worked at a detail shop three years ago for a good two years, and then he’s (Safferstein) really into cars, working on them mechanically, and (Borer) likes cars, so we just started coming together around cars,” Isaku said.

“It was our common interest,” Safferstein added.

Through that common interest, the three of them decided to create TDG AutoDetailing during the summer.

“Honestly, it kind of started outside of my house,” Safferstein said. “Me and Isaku were outside cleaning our cars. We love having our cars clean, and we were like, why don’t we start charging people to detail their cars.”

Borer said they started with friends and family’s cars before venturing out to the general public.

“We started to have a lot of people asking us to detail their cars, and we thought we could actually make a business out of this,” Safferstein said.

“It took a lot of thought into the business it’s not just detailing and cleaning cars we feel like it is a business and a service that they gravitate to,” Borer said. “It’s a good service, and people deserve to drive clean cars and be in a clean space without spending $700 and at the same time support kids who are in the college-age and trying to start a career. So with all those factors, we thought it was a perfect time.”

When they were first starting, Isaku said they decided to post on several Facebook groups dedicated to Milford.

Isaku said the three had noticed that some posts got hundreds of likes on social media, and they estimated there could be about 200 potential customers. Then, while Isaku was away on vacation, the phone started ringing. And it didn’t stop.

“It really went crazy one week,” he said. “I was away on vacation, and these two guys were here, and they did three details a day for two weeks straight.”

As they did more jobs, Borer said they got better at it, and better at the other aspects of running a small business.

“It takes more than just cleaning the car,” Borer said. “Even things like communication, learning the differences between the inside of the (various) cars. So the more details we do, the more we learn.”

They also learned that the key to staying in business in organization and efficient scheduling.

Safferstein said his favorite part about the business was seeing all the different features in different vehicles.

Other aspects are somewhat less enjoyable. Isaku said one job entailed removing lots of dog hair from a car’s interior.

“It was not fun,” he said.

As the amount of jobs increases, Borer said there have been times where the detail work went beyond just cleaning a car for people.

“A woman commented on our post that one of her childhood friends has stage 4 cancer and on the occasion that he needs to drive his car, she loves that he’s driving in a clean car,” he said. “When we saw that, we were like, ‘wow, we are making money and providing a service that people love, and it’s helping the community.’”

“We quickly learned that we need to keep a good schedule and keep organized,” Safferstein said. “We all got our own little calendar, and we got slots with time, dates, names, addresses to keep as organized as possible.”

As the days get colder and people are still contacting the three for service, they have developed a plan to continue working in the cold weather. Isaku said a ceramic wax coating at the beginning of the winter would allow road salt and grime to simply spray off. This will allow them to focus on interior work, he said.

“It’s good for us because it’s not too long of a job and not too cold of a job, and we’re not working with water,” Isaku said. “So we are still making money, and the customer is happy. It’s a win for all of us.”

Ultimately, the long-term goal for TDG is to open their own detailing garage. While that may be a long way off, the feedback they’ve received from their first few months in business suggests that they are on their way, Borer said.

“It gives us the confidence to do better the next time because we really like the positive feedback from this one person,” Borer added, “So we are going to do a really good job the next time to get an even better reaction.”