Anthony Williams of Anthony’s Express Mobile Detailing Finds Success in the Details

Clutch MOV is proud to sponsor this year’s Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. We envision a community where citizens can take risks on the promise that success would uplift the residents of our valley. Artists, creators, makers, and small business owners strive to build something anew, something worth putting their stamp on – to promote and share with each other – and entrepreneurs are on the edge, finding ways to build in a way that hasn’t been done before. This year we received dozens of nominations for innovative, forward-thinking, community-building entrepreneurs from the Mid-Ohio Valley. The panel believed six individuals stood out for the impact they are making through their work. We are sharing their stories in this series.

At age 13, when most of his friends were reading Sports Illustrated, Anthony Williams was busy reading Business Opportunity Magazine. “Owning a business is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Even when I held other jobs, I always knew one day I would run my own business. Of course, I had no idea what business it would be, but I always knew.”

Today, Anthony is the owner of Anthony’s Express Mobile Detailing, providing detail service on the go for vehicle owners in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Offering a multitude of automobile detailing services that include interior and exterior details, headlight restoration, buffing and paint correction, wax application, ceramic coating application and maintenance, trim restoration and more, Anthony brings everything directly to the customer – even the water.

“I noticed in the early 90s that our economy was changing from a manufacturing-based economy to a tech and service-based economy,” said Anthony. “When I was a kid and you wanted pizza, you actually had to go somewhere to get it and there was no food or pizza delivery. If you wanted to do a banking transaction, you had to go to the bank – there were no ATMs. Now, our new economy is based on speed and convenience.”

One day, Anthony heard a friend complain about being without his vehicle for 9 hours while having his car detailed and how much he paid for the service. “I remember thinking to myself, there had to be a better way to speed this process up and at a more affordable price.” Two and a half years later in April of 2002, Anthony quit his job, hired himself, and never looked back.

But it wasn’t an easy journey.

“I had this idea to be able to drive to people and take their detail shop to them. Only one problem – I did not have a license because of a DUI.” Anthony knew it would be a while before he could get a new license but was not happy at his current job so he did the unthinkable – put in his two weeks’ notice and started his business on foot.

“I did this for almost two years until I paid my fines off. I was living in downtown Parkersburg at the time which was good, because I was within walking distance of a lot of businesses,” he said. “When I got a job I would fill up buckets of water, walk them to the customer, then go back to the apartment and pick up towels and supplies. I did this for each job.”

Anthony didn’t let that – or his inability to secure a bank loan – stop him, but it did make starting a new business all the more difficult. “It got so bad I called my mom and told her I was going to quit and find something else do and she said the words that changed my life. She said, ‘Son, I didn’t raise any quitters!’ From that point on, I never thought about quitting again. I look back now and remember the people that told me I would never make it or that I was crazy to try a business like this but I was determined and in the end, I just found a way.”

According to the individual who nominated Anthony for Entrepreneur of the Year, he brought a service to the MOV that was unheard of at the time. “The idea of a detailer coming to the customer was a foreign concept. He had many obstacles – he started on foot, toting buckets of water, and built a company that now has a fleet of work vehicles equipped with gallons of water, power washers, and its own power source for vacuums and equipment.”

Transportation wasn’t the only hurdle he faced when starting out. “My wife and I are both recovering drug addicts,” Anthony said. “I am coming up on 20 years clean and my wife is coming up on 13 years clean.” He and his wife both sponsor others in recovery through Narcotics Anonymous, showing those who are addicted how they got clean and how they stay that way.

“It is very, very time consuming. We have both sponsored hundreds of people here in the Mid-Ohio Valle, as the drug problem in the MOV is rather substantial and frankly there are not enough sponsors to go around for all the people that need help. These guys depend on us to be there for them.”

Anthony’s dedication to helping others has become part of his business model. “Anthony takes a personal risk by hiring individuals who have known substance abuse history,” said the nominator. “He often recruits employees from local treatment centers in an effort to give them a work history and a chance to build lives in recovery.”

Anthony admitted it can be a challenge to not let the business consume him and that his wife often has to pull him away. “It’s hard to tear myself away from reworking an invoice or planning the next day’s schedule, but thanks to my wife, I am getting so much better at it. Thank god for that woman, our business would not be what it is today without her!”

What keeps him going is seeing how his customers react once he’s completed a job. “After 18 years, I still love hearing the customers say ‘My car looks better than the day I bought it!’ It’s at that point when I know we have fulfilled our mission and pleased the customer. After being in business all this time, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not that easy.”

When the going gets tough, Anthony says the key is to always find a way. To those thinking about starting their own business, he encouraged, “Do not under any circumstances quit! There are going to be difficult times, so try to mentally prepare yourself for that. I have friends who own successful, thriving businesses and the one common trait I would say they all have is that they want their business to success so bad they can taste it. We are all masters at ‘finding a way.’”

Credibility also goes a long way in creating sustained success. “Keep your word. Whatever you tell someone you are going to do, do it. Credibility goes a long way in business and in life.”

Credibility is certainly something Anthony has built up over the past 18 years in business, through excellent customer service, generous charitable giving, and investing in his community.

“Anthony has always felt a sense of responsibility to his community because without a thriving community, he can’t have a thriving business,” said his nominator, who shared that he has been known to frequently pay for the groceries or medications of unsuspecting community members at places like Walmart or Piggly Wiggly. “He slips out before the customer can even thank him. He’s told me he does this not for recognition, but because he needs people to believe in the world we live in. He needs people to see the good in others. By doing little acts of kindness, he might instill that sense of humanity still existing in someone who has other experiences that may cause them to doubt.”

Through hard work and selflessness, Anthony has modeled that you can make it no matter your background, if you love others and do the right things for the right reasons along the way.