Attention to detail

When it comes to cars, this former chef is cleaning up


MARK Goodrick came to the auto trade via the least likely route imaginable. The expat Brit, 48, had a high-flying career in hospitality and strutting the New York runway before finding happiness making cars spotlessly clean.

Born in Scarborough, England, Goodrick had six years of silence in childhood through a severe sinus condition. It was cured with an operation at age 13, but by then he’d fallen in with the “wild kids”. He left school at 15 to join the army, but was knocked back.

“So I decided to get into cooking, because I’d enjoyed making scones as a kid,” he says.

“Working in a kitchen wasn’t quite the same as that. I did a hotel management course and trained in London at the Hilton and the InterContinental.”

The wild streak reared up again and at 18 Goodrick left London. He spent the next 15 years travelling the world, managing kitchens in restaurants and hotels.

“I was in New York for three years. An uncle owned a restaurant; I was able to manage that and have the flexibility to look around for something a bit more interesting. I liked working out and somebody said I should do some modelling. I started doing Calvin Klein stuff, mainly runway and catalogue work.

“After that, I went to Europe, spent a lot of time in the Middle East, then Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia, did Africa, then ended up in the South Pacific. It took me about two years to reach Australia. I settled here as a resident 18 years ago.”

Goodrick worked as an executive chef for the Olympics in Sydney 2000 and enjoyed a reputation as a hard-driving Mr Fixit in commercial kitchens. But something wasn’t sitting right with him.

“I was turning into Gordon Ramsey! In the end I was throwing pans at people and the swearing was getting out of control. A friend of mine was selling his car washing business in Sydney. I thought, this is outdoors, it’s a bit more relaxed, so I bought it.”

Goodrick created a decade ago. Unlike part-time detailers, who may do only a handful of big-ticket jobs a month, Goodrick’s in this full-time. That means Fords instead of Ferraris, stations wagons instead of supercars.

“We have to find 20-30 jobs a week, so we went for the family-style detail where people have a spillage, or they’re selling their car, or they’ve bought a second-hand one and want it freshened up,” he says. “Generally it’s about three to four hours to do a car, vacuuming, lightly scrubbing all the trim, machine polishing and so on. Around $250 is where most people are comfortable.

“Sometimes, someone’s been sick in the car, or a child’s dropped something or they’ve spilled milk. Or someone’s spilled fish in the car... you can spend six hours and it still smells of fish.

“The ones I hate most are people-movers. I try to avoid them like the plague. They’re so big, and nobody wants to pay you enough to clean them.

“I once did a job for a man who had this 20-year-old people-mover. I told him the price for it, and when I got there, this car hadn’t been cleaned in 20 years. About three hours into it, I’ve only really got the front seat done.After all that, he said, ‘On your website, it said $150 all-up!’ He took me inside and showed me his computer. It was somebody else’s website.”

The family guy

DETAILER Mark Goodrick admits he’s more a family man than a car man.

“I backpacked the world on a shoestring and my family’s now my priority. I’m not worried about a monster house and three BMWs. We use a Nissan Micra; it’s easy to work with. But I cleaned about 200 Peugeots last year for the importer and they were well-appointed and beautiful to drive.”