From Shining Shoes to Shining Fancy Cars
Benjamin Marin's first job was shining shoes at his father's barber shop in Ecuador. Now, he's shining fancy cars for famous athletes at Nature's Hand Car Wash. See how this local business owner became his own boss in this week's Past Lives.
When Benjamin Marin was just a boy he would shine shoes at his father's barber shop in Ecuador for some small side cash. Now, he's shining much bigger things - cars, expensive ones.
Marin, 53, and owner of Nature's Hand Car Wash, 9003 Waukegan Road, said he learned a lot from working at his father's business.
"Doing customer service is almost like being a psychologist with some customers," Marin, a Morton Grove resident, said. "Customer service is a lot of listening and matching to what the customer wants. One of the things I learned in Ecuador is that some people will run all over you if you don't present an image of being smart and strong. People will take advantage of you and anyone can bully you.
"You have to be smart, strong and confident," he added.
One of Marin's regulars includes Chicago Bear Lance Briggs, who he said brings in his Audi R8 for detailing.
"We get a lot of nice cars here; Lamborghinis, Porsches, Rolls-Royce Phantoms," Marin said. "But the regular cars are really the bread and butter of the business."
On Oct. 7, Marin's business celebrated its seven-year anniversary.
"This type of business is not something you go out looking for," Marin said. "It was just an accident. I wasn't really looking for a car wash. I was looking for a business or an investment."
Marin is also passing on some of the same values his father did to him when he was younger. His son, Sebastian, 18, has been involved in the business since he was 11. His daughter, Michelle, 20, has also been working for her father since she was about 12.
"Customers are usually very impressed with the way Sebastian carries himself," Benjamin Marin said "I knew to show him by example, the need for it. He was 11 when he got involved and he listened and he picked up from the good and the bad.
"Once people deal with him they usually say, 'Oh my God, he is your son.'"