You’re never too old to further your education. There is only so much you will learn on your own. If you want to the best you can than you need to learn from the best in your industry. That’s why I decided to attend Todd Cooperider’s Esoteric Elite Detailer Academy. Todd is infamous in the industry. He was voted by Auto week as on the top detailers in the world. He works on rare expensive pieces of art. He is also the only authorized Rupes training center in the country and one of four detailers selected by Rupes to test out their prototype dual action polishers for real world testing. I boarded a flight from New York City to Columbus, Ohio in May of 2015.
I arrived at Esoteric Detailing around 8a.m. First impressions are everything they say, well Todd’s facility is a monument to detailing and everything cars. I was greeted right away at the door by Todd, who was welcoming and personable. It was a surreal experience meeting Todd in person after years of following his work. I walked back towards the garage and was in awe. An elegant shop and showroom; white floors, white walls, white cabinets and everything was precisely organized in its place. On show was a beautiful red Ferrari that was a testament to Todd’s detailing skills.
There were five students in the class including myself. Everyone was at a different skill set level and from different parts of the country. Some were already detailing professionally, others wanted to transition to the professional level and another just wanted to learn how to detail their own personal cars better. The first half of day one was spent in the classroom. We began by sharing a short synopsis of our detailing history. Todd shared his personal stories of how his passion grew into a business. We discussed different products, pads and machines we would be using later on during the hands on training. Important topics such as paint defects, polishing techniques, paint hardness, paint preservation and ceramic paint coatings.
Todd had us all apply pressure to a polisher on a scale to learn proper downward pressure. It gave you a real sense of how much pressure was needed for correcting and polishing. We went over proper techniques such as sectional passes. One by one on the hood of a black Range Rover, we each took a turn to demonstrate how we polished. It can be intimidating to be in front of a group of professionals who are watching and critiquing your technique. But everyone was here to learn and help one another get better. I was relieved when Todd said I was doing everything correctly; my pressure was good, my stance was correct and I properly adjusted the polisher for any contours on the panel. By the end of day one we had learned how to buff edges, spot scratch removal, positive and negative contours. All techniques we would incorporate into day two of training.
After class we all went out to dinner with Todd and his Esoteric staff members. Some of the best insightful conversations happened over a meal. We discussed our personal backgrounds, detailing stories and helped each other answer questions. Todd throughout the two days answered any question and thoroughly.
Our practice vehicle was a black Range Rover that had every type of paint defect imaginable. We each took a section to work on. I choose the front end. I find the front end challenging; contours and transitions. We started compounding with microfiber cutting disc, Menzerna FG400 & Rupes LHR 15 dual action polisher. These are the same product and tool combination I was currently using and now I was going to perfect it. The Range Rover threw us some curve balls. The compounding left micro marring in the paint, tiny fine scratches from the aggressive abrasives which were easilt polished out using a combination of Rupes polishing pads and Sonax Perfect Finish to refine the paint. Todd all throughout the day watched us correct, helping us make any adjustments needed. To protect the paint we applied and learned the application techniques for Gyeon Ceramic Coating. Then we all took a few steps back and admired in unison what we had just accomplished as a group.
As I sat on the plane ride back to New York, I was very excited to return and implement everything I had learned from Todd in training to my own professional work. My only wish was that the class was longer, it went by too quickly. I could have spent another week at Esoteric Detailing soaking up everything I could. I’m confident after this class that I will take my paint correction detailing skills to another level.