Back in March and April of this year, I started documenting the history of the formation of the International Detailing Association. I’m finally returning to that project, and there is a lot of cool stuff to talk about.
In the March column, I explained the purpose of an industry trade association and the steps that are taken to properly set up one. Then I provided a brief history of the four detailing associations that existed previous to the formation of the International Detailing Association (IDA). Finally, the story of the formation of the IDA was shared.
In the April column, I outlined the board of director’s many accomplishments during the first two years of the IDA’s formal existence (2009-2010), as well as the events that led up to turning over IDA management to Association Development Services in 2010.
IDA Hall-of-Famer Bud Abraham generously provided some further information on the Professional Detailing Association (PDA), which he helped form in 1989. In the March column, I incorrectly stated that the PDA membership was mostly car wash owners, when, in fact, it was founded and composed of detailing supply companies and independent detailers. The PDA was a legitimate operation, with bylaws and an elected board of directors, which provided seminars and a monthly newsletter. Membership was at 500 by 1995, but the PDA board of directors agreed to allow leadership of the organization to be taken over by the International Carwash Association, which allowed it to dissolve.
Bud’s model for establishing a detailing trade association was solid, and this is what he brought to the table in April of 2008 to establish the IDA.
Now, back to the IDA story! After the first couple of years of focusing on establishing the IDA as a legitimate trade association with solid leadership, management, and a basic set of member benefits, it was time to move forward with improving the member experience with more beefy benefits and programs.
For many years, the subject of detailing “certification” has been bandied about in this industry, the idea being to help establish an industry standard of detailing knowledge that could be independently evaluated.
Creating a detailing certification program had been on the to-do list since the beginning of the IDA.
The main problem was figuring out what form the certification program would take. Erik Jeffries, the IDA’s first president, as well as IDA Hall-of-Famers Keith Duplessie and Prentice St. Clair came up with the concept of a two-phased program, the first to be a paper-and-pencil exam, and the second to be some kind of demonstration of skills. This idea was honed within the certification committee and sent to the board for approval in early 2011.
The next step was difficult: deciding what the actual “Certified Detailer” exams would cover and then creating the questions for each one. This effort went back-and-forth for months via e-mails and conference calls among the volunteers who had offered to do the work.
Finally, on Sunday, May 1, 2011, Keith Duplessie “locked” the certification committee in the board room of the Las Vegas Embassy Suites with all the materials that we had collected to that date, and said, “finish the exams!”
It made perfect sense because we were all there and had this free Sunday between the IDA board retreat the day before, and the start of ICA’s Car Care World Expo the next day. In that room were Clint Hintz, Jim Lafeber, Bob Phillips, Stephen Romero, and Prentice St. Clair. We plowed through all 10 exams and came up with 10-30 questions for each. At the end of the day, Keith returned to find us bleary-eyed in a room full of discarded empty beverage containers, food wrappers strewn about, and piles of papers across the table.
But we were done! The Phase I of the IDA Certified Detailer Program was rolled out June of 2011!
Phase II of the certification program, known as “Skills Validation (SV)” came a bit later. It was unveiled at the January 2015 Mobile Tech Expo, during which the world’s first fourteen SVs were validated! The extended gap between the roll-out of Phase I and Phase II happened partly because a lot of time was spent tweaking the Phase I exams and administration process, and because it was a complicated discussion to come up with a way to “validate” a detailer’s skills in a timely fashion.
The inaugural class of Skills Validated detailers included Gina Budhai, Kyle Clark, Mike Dickson, Keith Duplessie, Jim Goguen, Tim Jones, Justin Labato, Tom Palancia, Scott Perkin, Bob Phillips, Mike Poloskey, Prentice St. Clair, Greg Swett, and Paul Veins.
The Skills Validation portion of the IDA’s Certified Detailer Program necessitated the identification of people who could administer the SV test, as it involves the candidate actually demonstrating or describing detailing processes to someone who could validate that the candidate actually possessed detailing skills.
It was decided in 2015 by the certification committee that an application process would be established for IDA members that have detailing training experience so that those individuals could be included in a list of trainers that are recognized by the IDA leadership as providing formal detail training. There are currently 34 RTs around the world.
A common misconception in our association is that the “RT” patch or stripe is an automatically available progression after receiving CD and SV stripes. This is not true. Only those who can prove on their application that they have extensive experience providing formal detailing training are eligible to apply for RT status. And not every application is approved.
THE FOUNDER’S CLUB
IDA membership dues have always been a great value, even though they have increased over the years. We never wanted to have exorbitant dues, and much of the IDA’s program development is done by committee volunteers using personal time in order to save the association a lot of money. Even with hundreds of volunteer hours, the expense of running a fast-growing association — with multiple new programs to administer — increased rapidly in the early years.
Moreover, the IDA was in the middle of a huge website reconstruction that was sorely needed to serve membership needs, potential member inquiries, and consumer search capability. This was an expensive proposition but essential for the health of the association.
We began to fall behind in paying Association Development Services, our management company. This was of grave concern to the board of directors, as we did not want to dramatically raise dues, but also wanted to exemplify legitimate business practices in paying our bills. Then Keith Duplessie, CD-SV-MC, RT, and Rick Goldstein had an idea.
Many trade associations have an elite membership group that is distinguished by a substantial one-time financial contribution to the association. For example, the ICA has “The Century Club.” Rick and Keith suggested that we do the same for the IDA, and thus was formed The Founder’s Club. Founder’s Club members make a one-time payment (typically several thousand dollars) to the association and are granted lifetime membership and the recognition of being a foundational financial supporter of the association.
This program was so successful that the initial 16 invited members (including Rick and Keith) stepped up immediately to join the first induction of The Founder’s Club members in 2016. The past bills were wiped out, the website upgrades were fully funded, and there was money left over to start a Founder’s Endowment Fund, which is used — under the jurisdiction of the Founder’s Club members — for annual scholarship programs and special IDA programs. The first Founder’s Club endowment disbursement took place at the end of 2020, and amounted to $7,500 awarded to six benefactors, five of which were non-US members. More recently, the Founder’s Endowment Fund helped fund the IDA Global SV Event that occurred the week of June 21.
The size of The Founder’s Club is tied to the size of the IDA overall membership, and every few years, invitations go out for new Club members. There are currently 28 IDA Founder’s Club members, 80 percent of which are IDA supplier members, and 20 percent operator members.
We will forever be indebted to Sheryle Hazard, CAE, our executive director, for staying with us during the lean years. She knew, like we did, that our passion as an association would carry us through to continued success and financial stability.
The mid-twenty-teens were a great growth period for the IDA. We began to become a truly international organization, as those members who extensively travel internationally as part of the everyday duties of the companies they represent were showing up in other countries with IDA patches and local detailers began to notice and ask about the organization. People like Jason Rose, CD-SV, RT, Tom Palancia, CD-SV, RT; and Keith Duplessie began to expose the existence of the IDA to cadres of detailers in other countries and world regions, and foreign interest in membership increased dramatically.
It soon became clear that these international detailing hot-spots could do a much better job of coordinating local events and publicity, especially in consideration of language barriers and location-specific industry challenges. So, the concept of IDA International Chapters was born. The United Kingdom Chapter was the first one and was chartered in 2016.
We currently have nine international chapters, including Belgium/France (35 members), Bulgaria (16), Denmark (17), Germany (21), India (19), New Zealand (16), Norway (24), Southeast Asia (64), and United Kingdom (126). At this point nearly 20 percent of IDA’s membership is non-US. And more are coming on soon. The IDA is truly an international organization!
THE IDA HALL OF FAME
The concept of an IDA Hall of Fame — the purpose of which is to recognize pioneers and substantial contributors to the detailing industry — came about as part of the discussion of the establishment of the Founder’s Club. In 2019, nominations were solicited for the inaugural Hall of Fame induction, which occurred at Mobile Tech Expo in 2020. The class included Bud Abraham; Renny Doyle, CD-SV, RT; Barry Meguiar; William Phillips; and Ed Terwilliger, CD-SV, RT.
Anyone in the detailing industry, past or present, living or passed, can be nominated for the Hall of Fame by any IDA member. However, only Founder’s Club members and IDA past presidents are allowed to vote which of the nominated individuals will actually be inducted.
THE FUTURE: WE’RE HERE TO STAY
The future is bright for the IDA. Founded on solid association and business practices, the IDA continues to be a well-managed trade association with heavy member involvement. Membership numbers remained resilient during the pandemic and numbers are starting to increase as we come out of that world crisis. We expect that membership numbers will explode in the coming years as we continue to roll out new member benefits and programs. Here are some areas to watch: The IDA certification committee continues to work on improving the Detailing Certification Program by revising the current CD-SV program, and adding new certifications for detailing specialties, including Marine Certification, which first became available in January 2020. Next up will be Motorcycles Certification and others will likely follow.
The IDA will continue its commitment to providing education and networking opportunities as our classic and newer meeting venues re-open. For example, we already had a presence at Southern Detailers Conference and Southwest Car Wash Association in June, and we will have representation at the Las Vegas Mobile Tech Expo (August), SEMA (November), Orlando Mobile Tech Expo (January 2022), and many others.
Among our more exciting programs that are currently in development are the distributor incentive program, which encourages detailing supply distributors to recruit their customers to join the IDA; as well as the consumer awareness program, which will endeavor to increase public awareness of the IDA as a resource for selecting professional detailing service.
Prentice St. Clair is an International Detailing Association Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer. As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has been providing training and consulting to car washes and detail shops since 1999. He is available at (619) 701-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.