Though it originally sold only two things—audio products and wireless phones—Car Toys has gradually expanded its repertoire. Today, with 50 locations spread across four states, electronics-certified technicians install everything from Alpine in-dash navigation units to phone-integration systems that sync iPhones, Androids, and tin cans to car stereos. Meanwhile, in the garage, detailing technicians meticulously spruce up cars inside and out, using deionized water, paint-friendly shampoos, and high-quality wash mitts to protect against scratches, swirls, and water spots. The team also sweeps through interiors with vacuums, hot-water extractors, and ozone deodorizing treatment, which kills airborne bacteria and nasty smells in one fell swoop.
Car after car slowly rolls past as automatic sprayers lather them up and rinse them down before a mist of Simoniz Hot Wax & Shine is applied. It’s from West Oaks Car Wash & Mobil1 Lube Express’ roomy waiting area that customers relax after having cars cleaned, which when performed regularly can maintain the luster of the car’s exterior. Applications of Simoniz products shield the car from UV rays and guard it from minor scratches, and rust inhibitors keep auto exteriors from decaying. Bolstering each car’s surface protection, the Rain-X Complete option also repels water during inclement weather or when parked inside backyard pools. Besides keeping cars cleaned inside and out, the team at West Oaks Car Wash & Mobil1 Lube Express also performs maintenance services such as oil changes and lubes.
PreFlight Parking safely stows cherished chariots and ferries their owners to and from nearby Houston Intercontinental Airport in a direct coach. Upon arrival, lot attendants direct vehicles to their appointed spot and, within five minutes, summon a shuttle bus to whisk travelers off to their terminal. Until drivers return, security fixes a watchful eye on family vans and much-loved motorcycles and repeatedly reassures them that their owners' newfound reliance on air travel is just a phase.
There's a reason why owner Bill Lawrence decided to set Bubbles Hand Car Wash apart with upscale services and a pleasant ambiance. As Lawrence relayed to Allison Wollam of the Houston Business Journal, he was charmed by a clean, welcoming car wash he visited shortly after moving to Texas from New York, where car washes typically charged a convenience fee to any customer who smiled. Lawrence knew he could cater better to luxury car owners like himself with a conveyerized hand-wash system that combined the convenience of the tunnel model with the hands-on meticulousness of a traditional hand wash. His idea has caught on with some very high-profile customers. Houston Texans linebacker Mister Alexander trusts his ride to the skilled hands of Bubbles’ technicians, as do Houston Rockets players Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith, not to mention former president George Bush.
Even patrons without a Porsche or a professional sports career appreciate Bubbles' gentle lamb's wool mitt washes and eco-friendly soaps, sealers, waxes, and conditioners, as proven by the business’s 2010 and 2012 Houston A-List awards for Best Car Wash. Customers seem to be as taken with the company’s facilities as they are with its services; each lobby invites relaxation with free WiFi, a bemusing gift shop, and shoe shines so effective that patrons need only stand beside their vehicle to check its undercarriage. The community-conscious car washes also use less than a quarter of the water typically expended during a home wash, and the locations offer free car washes for military personnel on Veterans Day.
Plastic Trim Restoration (PTR) began as a group of veterans and students working to put themselves through college, but has now evolved into a full-service detailing outfit. PTR’s uniformed technicians specialize in restoring faded plastic trim, which they do with the help of a polymer formula that allows clients to customize the shade of their trim. PTR still employs primarily veterans and students, who also perform services such as headlight restoration and premium detailing for private clients and dealerships.