Like a lot of boys, 12-year-old Bowen “Bo” Parr loves cars.
His interest in automobiles extends beyond the shiny exteriors, however. He has started his own detailing business, working under the auspices of his father, Lowell Parr, who owns Main Street Auto Sales in Longview
The slender youngster started his venture in June. He has his own cards printed up for Bodacious Auto Detail, his business name. So far, he has detailed eight cars and trucks for local residents.
“I did five for Ron Mason (owner of Mason’s Auto Mart), and I just did one for Lynn, a lady from church,” Bo said.
“He’s done a couple for his grandpa, who has Parr’s Cars,” his father added.
Bo seems to have found his niche in detailing, Lowell Parr said. Bo and his older brother, Bryant, came into the Parr family after being in the foster care system.
Parr and his wife of 38 years, Peggy, first welcomed the boys when Bo was 3 years old. A few months later, they adopted the youngsters.
The fit between the children and the car-loving family was nearly instantaneous, Parr said. Child Protective Services (CPS) “seemed to pick kids who just fit with us.”
The couple also have two biological children, ages 33 and 24, and a third adopted son, Mark.
Parr said he has tried to spot each of his son’s talents. Bryant, he said, is a natural mechanic. When Bowen was 8, he began expressing an interest in detailing, so Parr encouraged him.
“Bowen has this neatness. Not that his room is neat,” he said, chuckling. “But he’s organized.”
The boy first got into the family business washing cars on his father’s lot.
“He’s always been the best car washer I’ve had,” Parr said. “I’ve been washing cars for, like, 30 years. I have a system. When he washes cars, he doesn’t leave triangles (of dirt behind) most of the time.”
Parr said he saw quickly that, with training, Bo would make a good detailer. When Chad Jensen of Puyallup, an inmate in the work release program through the Department of Corrections, came to work on the car lot, he shared his knowledge with Bo.
The youngster soaked it up like a sponge.
“When Chad started working with him, he said that he had the innate ability to make a good detailer,” Parr said. “Me, I can clean a car, but I could never be a detailer. Bowen has that talent.”
Now that he’s been working at it a while, Bo said he’s got the process down pretty well.
He works from the outside in, he said, first washing the exterior of the car before raising the hood to clean the engine and its compartment.
“People like to have the engine be clean,” said Bo while inspecting the engine of one his father’s used cars. “Everyone wants a clean car or else they won’t buy it. They want to be able to see the engine.”
To clean the engine, he sprays it down with degreaser, then scrubs, pressure washes and dries it off well.
“I use a toothbrush to get down in there, between the wires,” he said.
He then applies an engine “dressing,” a liquid that adds the sparkle.
From there, he moves to the car’s interior, scrubbing the door panels, doors and windows.
If the carpet is really dirty, he’ll take out the car seats and pull up the carpet, Bo’s father said.
“He pressure washes it,” Parr said. “It’s quite a process for a 12-year-old. You’ve got to get all the seat belts and all that put back in there.”
Bowen said he likes all the parts of detailing, but especially enjoys cleaning the wheels and seats and polishing the interior.
“The dressing makes things stay shiny, even after a few months,” he said.
Parr is proud that both of his adopted sons have a great work ethic. Rather than spend their summer vacations lazing around at home, they’re eager to work at the car lot.
“I love that,” Parr said. “I don’t get to see my kids very much in the evenings. We have more of a relationship than we might otherwise.”
In addition to the detailing, Bowen also knows his way around sales.
“His sales ability is natural. He does things that I should do and forget to do, and he does them instinctually,” Parr said. “He just knows how to talk to people.”
Because Bowen is too young to have his own business license, he does the work through Main Street Autos. He earns $75 per vehicle for his work, and he is saving the money so that he and his brother can buy a car to fix up and resell for profit. He plans to use the money he earns from that venture to pay for college, where he will study religion.
He hopes to eventually serve as a children’s pastor. The only thing that concerns the boy about that goal, Parr said, was that he wouldn’t be able to help his father sell cars.
“I told him that maybe he will make his living as a detailer and car sales person and donate his time as a children’s pastor,” Parr said. “I can just see ... he’s going to be really good at all these things.”