When Nicole Kloiber went on her first date with Jim Lafeber in 1997, she was surprised to be picked up in a gigantic white station wagon. After all, Jim worked in finance — shouldn’t he be driving a hot little sports car? But appearances can be deceiving.
To Jim, that “station wagon” was his baby, a pristine 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser he always kept in perfect condition, detailing it with an obsessive level of care. In fact, he loved the car so much it became the new couple’s wedding carriage, with Nikki, Jim and their Alaskan Malamute Simon trekking across the country on a honeymoon to remember.
The Land Cruiser came back from the honeymoon riddled with Simon’s fur. Jim had always detailed the Land Cruiser himself, but with marriage and a demanding job he no longer had the time. So he scoured the Chicago area with Nikki, looking for a detail shop he could trust to care for his pride and joy. But trust was hard to come by.
Jim had detailed cars since age 14, and he saw these shops making all the mistakes he knew to avoid. Cars treated roughly. Jobs rushed through with little attention. Dirty equipment used over and over and over again. Often the vehicles came out worse off than they did coming in.
At the same time, Nikki grew sick of the same dingy waiting rooms, surly staff and gas station-quality bathrooms. Even at the supposedly “high end” shops the waiting rooms had nothing but old magazines and uncomfortable chairs.
So when Jim decided to leave finance and start a business with Nikki, he knew exactly what this city needed: a detailing shop that cared about not just their clients’ vehicles, but the clients themselves.
All they needed was a name. Since a dog hair infested interior brought them there in the first place, it only made sense to name the shop after their beloved Alaskan Malamute, Simon. Once they had a name, they got to work making Simon’s Shine Shop the best detail shop in Chicago.
Jim hired a team of talented technicians with deep experience. He allotted enough time to get the job done right. Towels, buffing pads, applicators and wash mitts were all cleaned regularly so dirty equipment wouldn’t scratch the vehicle’s finish. Most importantly, Jim consulted with clients extensively to understand their needs and communicate honestly how they can be addressed.
Nikki, on the other hand, put everything into creating a welcoming space. She designed the waiting room to be spotless and full of natural light. She made cold water, quality coffee and a variety of bottled beverages available for clients, even adding Capri-Sun for the kids and a water bowl for dogs. Comfortable leather chairs were added and the bathroom was completely remodeled. She even added a baby changing table to the bathroom, knowing moms would appreciate the convenience.
With these two visions melded together, Simon’s was born in the Spring of 2004.
Not long after opening, however, Jim found himself frustrated with the detailing products that were then available on the market. Wash soaps were too harsh, waxes wouldn’t last and leather dressings made the interior look greasy. So Jim fell back on his undergraduate years as a chemistry student and formulated his own products, which he eventually brought to market as the Dr. Beasley’s product line in 2011.
In the years since, Jim and Dr. Beasley’s created the first products for matte finishes, engineered innovative nanotechnology protection and revolutionized paintwork correction, taking the brand global and earning the recognition of OEMs like Hyundai and Dodge. Now Simon’s uses exclusively Dr. Beasley’s detailing products and serves as their detailing studio and testing floor.
Jim also helped found the International Detailing Association, the first and only professional association for detailing businesses. By setting ethical standards and developing an accreditation process, Jim and the IDA added a level of professionalism and integrity to the detailing industry that simply wasn’t there before.
15+ years later, Simon’s is now a destination detailing shop with clients coming from all over the country to get their cars detailed by Simon’s expert staff. It’s also a nationally regarded training center where entrepreneurs learn detailing techniques and technology from the Dr. Beasley’s team. Simon’s even hosts their own version of “Cars and Coffee” called “Ales & Details”, where Simon’s clients can learn how to buff a car while enjoying craft brews from Chicago breweries like Haymarket.
While it may sound like a lot has changed, Simon’s is still committed to the excellence it promised over 15 years ago. We’ve kept almost all of our original employees, providing an unmatched level of experience to our clients. And while our procedures, techniques and products may evolve over time, the service and quality we provide will always be the absolute best it can possibly be.
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