COOS BAY — Lights, camera, upload!
This is more than a wax-and-wash operation. Bayshore Auto Detail — a new branch of Hawthorne Enterprises, owner of Coos Bay Toyota — has a professional photography studio that creates digital images of vehicles to be uploaded to the Web.
More on that later.
Hawthorne Enterprises has created 10 jobs in recent months by expanding operations to include a budget used-car lot, a fleet of rentals and the aforementioned detail shop.
When Coastal Carpets vacated a storefront it previously leased from Coos Bay Toyota, brothers Lee and Guy Hawthorne decided to use the building to broaden their reach in the auto industry.
101 Budget Auto Sales, at 1889 Bayshore Drive, opened several weeks ago next door to Coos Bay Toyota. It lets Hawthorne Enterprises keep high-quality trade-ins to diversify its used inventory beyond the Toyota brand.
"It opens up a different market for us," said Howard Forte, general sales manager at Coos Bay Toyota.
Hawthorne Enterprises also is banking on the rental market with Toyota Rent a Car, which operates out of the same building as 101 Budget. This new company serves two purposes: It gives the Hawthornes a foothold in the rental market, which already includes Enterprise, Hertz and Tower Ford locally, while adding more volume to Coos Bay Toyota's used-car inventory.
Toyota supplies the rentals brand new. They'll be sold used when they reach a certain mileage.
Of the dealership's used cars, "You have maybe three tiers — good, really good and top-of the-line … This provides you with top-of-the-line," Guy Hawthorne said.
Now, on to the detail shop.
A garage behind 101 Budget Auto Sales and Toyota Rent a Car features a photo studio designed by Purkey's Interiors in Coos Bay. Once vehicles are cleansed of imperfections, they're photographed before dark-blue curtains under professional lighting, to give cars a professional presentation online. Coos Bay Toyota does this to showcase its inventory on its Web site, while making the service available to other sellers who want to advertise on the Internet.
Managing detail operations is Damon Yanes, who previously had his own small but successful local detail shop.
The Hawthornes lured Yanes with the promise of a larger facility and new technology, as well as full benefits for him and his employees.
"They told me about the photo booth, and I really liked that," Yanes said.
Yanes snaps dozens of photos of each vehicle, views them on a monitor, edits them and uploads them to the Internet from a tablet PC. Once online, viewers can see close-ups of everything from the hood ornament to the rear bumper, plus interior shots.
"With a lot of dealerships going online," Yanes said, "this is the way to do it."
It's sophisticated stuff and essentially unheard-of in the detail industry.
"The detail industry is a cottage industry, and most operators barely have enough money to survive" — let alone invest in a photo studio, said Bud Abraham, executive director of the Portland-based International Detailing Association.
Working in conjunction with a dealership with a large presence on the Web gives Bayshore Auto Detail an advantage over independent detailers.
Bayshore Auto Detail is a big step up for Yanes, who previously operated out of a two-car garage.
"Compared to where we started, this is the Taj Mahal," he said.