The branded Dirty Harry’s mobile unit behind a clean and shiny hog.
Harry Sandwith has always had a passion for motorcycles. A passion he has turned into a thriving detail business that has become a Mecca for motorcycle enthusiasts throughout New Jersey.
Sandwith’s fascination with the detailing industry started decades ago when he took his first course on boat detailing. Throughout his 26-year-long career as a police officer in Jersey City, NJ Sandwith did a little detailing on the side and dreamed of opening a shop once he retired from the force.
When he finally took off his badge in 2010, Sandwith started Dirty Harry’s Detailing in Rochelle Park, NJ. When he founded the shop Sandwith was detailing cars, boats, motorcycles — basically anything with a motor — but he quickly became an in-demand motorcycle-detailing expert. Currently, nearly 90 percent of his business is motorcycles and he is known throughout New Jersey as the man to go to if you want a top-notch detail on your motorbike.
“I ride and my whole thing has been to get into motorcycles,” Sandwith says. “I have become one of the top East Coast detailers. I have the shop but I do mobile detailing as well and I get calls from all over New Jersey.”
A 1975 police cruiser Harry’s detailed for the Ridgefield Park Police Department.
The key to Sandwith’s success lies in his deep-rooted love of the motorcycle. As he puts it you really have to ride bikes and have a true affinity for them in order to successfully detail them.
“You have to ride to really work on bikes,” he says. “I don’t think anybody is going to trust a guy that has never sat on a motorcycle to detail his bike. If they don’t know how to operate it how can they detail it?”
Sandwith certainly knows how to detail a bike. In fact, his fixed and mobile service is so popular that he can afford to be selective with his clientele. He is a one-man operation and has as much work as he can handle and is effectively operating at full capacity. The next step in the evolution of Dirty Harry’s is to build an experienced staff and expand the business, but Sandwith has yet to take the plunge, limited by a lack of available motorcycle detailing talent.
Instead he is focused on providing the best possible service for his customers and the continued evolution of his detailing prowess. He is a long-time member of Renny Doyle’s “Detail Mafia” and continues to train with and alongside the detailing guru. Sandwith has recently been named the president of the Mafia, helping to organize and train the 150-member strong detailing network.
Harry Sandwith working with the Air Force One detailing crew.
Sandwith still details cars, but his true passion lives on two wheels.
Dirty Harry’s has room for six bikes at its fixed location.
Another perfectly detailed Harley Davidson on display.
He is a five-time member of the famous Air Force One detailing team and had served three times as a team leader on the annual joint-effort detailing project. In fact, his first time on the team he perfected one of the skills that helps set him apart from other detailers in the niche motorcycle market.
“On my first trip to Air Force One I polished the bomber,” he says. “That is where I really learned bright work. I developed a real talent for polishing chrome.”
A skill that has served him well and one he has been passing down to up-and-coming detailers every year in a summer training course held in New Jersey. Every year 15 to 20 detailers from around the East Coast converge on the Garden State to learn from one of the most successful motorcycle detailers in the business. He teaches them the important aspects of motorcycle detailing like how to polish paint and chrome with a small-scale buffer, the effective use of a motorcycle lift, and even some basic motorcycle knowledge like how to get the bike off the ground should it accidentally fall over.
In addition to operating Dirty Harry’s and sharing his detailing knowledge with those new to the motorcycle detailing industry, Sandwith has also developed a motorcycle-detailing product. His Hog Gloss detailing spray was designed for use between deep cleanings and can be sprayed on and wiped off of every part of a bike — paint, chrome, plastics, and leather.
“I worked with T&S Products to develop the product,” he says.
“It can be used to detail any type of vehicle but I have geared it toward motorcycles. It is packaged in a thin eight ounce bottle that guys can throw in their saddle bags and it won’t leak while it is laying on its side.”
The product is marketed under Sandwith’s Hogfather Detailing banner. In addition to being the company name behind his detailing product, Hogfather is the name of the franchisee arm of his business. Currently six detailers around the country are members of the Hogfather network. They are able to use the brand’s logo and name in their marketing efforts, as well as leverage Sandwith’s detailing knowledge to hone their skills. “The Hogfather franchise business is building up,” Sandwith says. “I have a lot of people requesting to join.”
The popularity of his franchisee offering is a testament to the high level of work he produces out of his one-man shop and mobile detailing service. Dirty Harry’s has three main motorcycle detailing packages: Express, Stage One, and Stage Two. The $99 Express package features a waterless wash; chrome, aluminum, and wheel wipe down; sealant; leather protectant; and windscreen cleaning.
For $189 Stage One customers receive a wash; clay bar treatment; wheel cleaning; polish; sealant; and leather cleaning and protectant. The $279 Stage Two service features everything from the Stage One package plus a two-step machine compound/polish; chrome hand polished and pitting removed; and a heavy-duty wheel cleaning.
Sandwith can detail three to four bikes a day depending on the condition of the vehicle when it first rolls into his shop. “If a guy maintains his bike, and most American made bike riders do, it takes me around two and a half hours to do a detail,” he says. “I do get the occasional rat that comes in. And those can take quite a while to bring the paint back.”
In addition to his standard detailing menu, Sandwith sells paint and chrome coatings for around $100 depending on the size of the bike, which helps bump up the average ticket price at Dirty Harry’s to over $250. The coatings add a higher level of protection and will last up to a year.
Sandwith’s one-man show continues to grow in popularity and the entrepreneur has his eye on expansion. “I always had aspirations of growing,” he says. “But it is hard to find good help. My reputation is the number one thing to me. I would rather do a job for free than disappoint more customers.”
Disappointing customers is the last thing Sandwith has to worry about as riders continue to flock to Dirty Harry’s to get their bike detailed by one of the best in the industry. Whether it is detailing bikes, developing private label products, or training the next-generation of detailers Sandwith is motorcycle detailing on the East Coast and a true testament that passion for your work leads to success.