Last year, Austin Johnson quit a good job at Kimberly-Clark to start his own business.

On Sept. 11 -- an easy date to remember -- he opened Austin's Affordable Detailing in the former May Electric location at 601 Triplett St.

"It took a leap of faith to start this," the 27-year-old entrepreneur said. "It's hard to leave a good job like that. But I knew this was what I wanted."

Johnson said, "Working swing shift will give you ambition. I wanted to spend more time with my family. I probably work more hours here than I did there. But it's for my dream, not somebody else's."

While he worked at Kimberly-Clark, he said, "I was saving my money so I could do this."

In June, nine months after Austin's Affordable Detailing opened, readers of the Messenger-Inquirer named it their favorite car detail shop.

"We've been very fortunate to have been so accepted by the community," Johnson said.

He said he actually started the business in his driveway.

But it quickly needed more space.

Today, he said, "We average 150 vehicles a month and another 60 corporate accounts. I do all the transit system buses and the trolley."

He's working on a truck that's been cut down to the cab and the frame, sanding off all the rust before applying ceramic coating to the frame -- a 60-hour project.

Detailing is defined as "a thorough cleaning, restoration and finishing of a motor vehicle, to produce a show-quality cleanliness and polish."

Johnson said, "I've been passionate about working on cars since I was a teenager. I worked at Don Moore as a wash boy when I was teenager. But I've always wanted to be self-employed. I like being able to put the gloss back on cars and give people back the vehicle they bought."

Ceramic coating is the latest technology to make cars shine and to protect the paint.

Once applied, Johnson said, the car won't need waxing for five to seven years.

But the process takes 36 hours.

"You have to strip off all the old wax," Johnson said. "It's very labor-intensive."

He applies the ceramic coating with a small brush shaped like a small chalkboard eraser.

Austin's Affordable Detailing now has an app so people can book appointments online at the three-man shop.

The building is perfect for his business, Johnson said.

"It has plenty of room and floor drains," he said. "I'd rather buy than rent, but there's nothing else around that's this good."

After graduating from Owensboro Catholic High School a decade ago, Johnson moved to Evansville.

But he didn't stay long.

"I came back home," he said. "I wanted to be close to family."

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com.

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