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Inspiring Conversations with Thomas Harrell of Winners Choice Detailing

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Harrell.

Hi Thomas, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Myself and my now wife Danyel were dating and made the decision to go into Home Healthcare in 2013. I worked as a counselor for the Job Corps program, detailed cars in the evenings and on weekends and she for Harris Stowe in the early childhood development center. During our application process, we had to secure and fully furnish an office and all amenities to make sure it would be ready for the state inspection when/if we would be awarded the contract from the state. Danyel dedicated her whole income to the office and its bills for an entire year as we awaited contract approval. We were awarded our contract in the summer of 2014 which began our journey into entrepreneurship. In our first year, we experienced good growth which incited me to leave my nine years career with Job Corps to become a school counselor in the Hazelwood school district with the understanding that even with a pay cut I would be able to use my summers off to grow the business. Danyel also came to work in the district given the lighter schedule which would permit us to begin our family and grow our business.

The business continued to grow and we began looking for our next opportunity. Detailing is my passion and something I wanted to do on a larger scale so we bought a house with a nice sized garage that would support a small detailing operation. So our lives were education in the Hazelwood school district, Home healthcare and detailing. We then learned about the Amazon delivery partner program and applied for it in August of 2018. We finally heard back in July of 2019 and decided to put our aims on securing a contract with Amazon. The interview process was tedious but the contract was secured and we began our journey into logistics beginning October 15, 2019 with five vans to our now 43 vans. We adapted to logistics pretty rapidly due to our transferable skills of people management that stem from years of working in education. We decided to pick up a few routes with an Automotive parts distribution company as well as partnering with a friend to buy a FedEx contract.

It wasn’t until our three businesses were going smoothly that we could invest in my passion of detailing which birthed Winners Choice Detailing. We believe in progress and helping individuals reach their full potential so we put one of our top amazon employees who expressed interest in owning his own shop in charge of Winners Choice Detailing. The business is aimed for high-end detailing, meaning that we want each customer to have a personal and custom-tailored experience when dealing with their prized possession.

Hard work and being a student to our craft is what has propelled my self and Danyel into these realms of entrepreneurship. We communicate freely with each other and have learned to always treat our team as family.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We have been very blessed to not have any devastating struggles, but we did have struggles. We were learning this whole self-employment thing on the fly and adapting to a growing family simultaneously. All the while being totally new to this form of leadership where everything falls on us as the owners of these companies. We made sure to read and to surround ourselves with others whom have already embarked on their journeys of entrepreneurship and kept our prayers and connection to god 1st.

As you know, we’re big fans of Winners Choice Detailing. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Our team is committed to delivering an exceptional experience for people and their vehicles with every visit. We aren’t just detailers, we’re detailers who love cars. Our goal is for you to feel as though they are each having a custom experience with the reconditioning of their vehicle. We specialize in ceramic coating, paint correction and stain removal. We have set ourselves apart by making sure we totally accommodate our customers and we do this by giving each person a personal experience all the way down to their needs consultation. Brand wise, we are proud that we have found a home for detailing in Collinsville IL and are able to offer something that the area has not seen, from a friendly waiting area to the shop décor. Our brand has a heated and cooled shop where our professional detailers can be comfortable as they work their magic.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I always tell people to find time to converse with others, whether it’s at the gym, church, work or anywhere. A person’s network can be a pure determinant of their net worth. We need to meet people make connections and continue throughout our lives. We need to remain students and not focus of a point of arrival. I have adopted these principles and they have proven themselves very lucrative.

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Image Credits
Photo credit: Leslie L. Jones Agency

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