View Full Version : My first car detailing how-to book from 1998 - Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips
11-22-2019, 04:44 PM
My first car detailing how-to book from 1998 - Mike Phillips (https://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/car-detailing-history-vintage-and-antique-car-waxes-and-buffing-tools/125061-my-first-car-detailing-how-book-1998-mike-phillips.html)

In the process of doing an interview, I shared the story about writing my first how-to book and how it led to the job of Corporate Writer for Meguiar's taking over all the writing duties of Barry Meguiar. The interviewer, Ellen McKoy, the Editor for Mobile Tech Digest, asked me if I could send her a picture of this first how-to book.

The book was buried in a box of memories from the old days, but I dug it up, brought it to work and took the below pictures.


Here's the nutshell version of the story.

Working at car shows
Back when I was an Outside Sales Rep and Trainer for Meguiar's for the territory of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, besides making shop calls to body shops, dealerships and detail shops, I was also responsible to set-up and work the Meguiar's booth at all the major and even minor car shows. Back then, we didn't have the Internet and thus we didn't have all the vast number of different products we have today.

My business card when I was a Trainer and Outside Sales Rep in Oregon, Washington and Idaho


We had a few major brands like 3M and Meguiar's and a handful of regional players. It's important to include this part BECAUSE out of all the products available at that time - Meguiar's Professional Line, that is the products in the tan bottles with the numbers on them were the most popular among car enthusiasts, I would go as far as to say, hard core car enthusiasts.

Demo Hood
At the shows, I would take in a black panel or car hood and the normal dog and pony show is to mess it up and then make it perfect. I would do this from the time the show started until the show was over. As you do this, about every 10 to 15 minutes a new crowd of people comes to the booth. After showing how to remove swirls and scratches and create a show car finish on black paint, people would always ask the same question, (about all the different Meguiar's products and what the numbers meant),

Is any of this information written down anywhere?

I would say,


The company has been in business since 1901 and to my knowledge, no one has ever written a how-to book explaining what the different products were, what they did, how to use them and when to use them.

The above scenario was repeated at every show I worked at and every detailing class I taught for car clubs. While I studied writing in college, I don't have a degree in writing. But I can type and I can think. So I though, why not take a stab at writing a how-to book.

After doing my best to write the first version, I purchased a Comb Binder and a Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet Printer. I printed the book out and the assembled it using a comb binder and then took it to car shows and sold copies from the booth.

Fast forward about a year, and one morning I was driving home from work in my 1966 Milk Truck. I had just got off work at the Pulp Mill where I drove a Scoop.

Milk Truck


Me standing in the bucket of the Scoop I drove.


I worked the graveyard shift that ended at 6:00am. As I was driving home my cell phone rang. This was my first cell phone, it was the basic flip style phone. I had just got it and no one even had my number. When I answered the phone, the voice on the other end said,

This is Barry Meguiar, is this Mike Philips?

I said


Ccan you hang on a minute while I pull over and park, my Milk Truck is a tick on the loud side.
(the sliding side doors rattled and she had a 396 Big Block Chevy engine, so she was a tick on the noisy side)

Barry laughed about me driving a Milk Truck. Then he said,

I was told you wrote a book about my family's product line?

The first thing I thought as,

He's going to sue me.

He's the owner of the company with deep pockets and I'm just a blue collar working class dog. I figured I probably broke some kind of Trademark or Copyright law. He then said,

I'd like to send me the first 4 chapters out of the book

At this point, I figured whatever was going to happen was going to happen so I agreed and the next day I did just as he asked. I carefully pulled the first 4 chapters out of the comb bound book, placed them in an large manila evenlope and sent them to Meguiar's via Snail Mail.

About a week later Barry called again and asked,

How would you like to fly down to Irvine, California and interview to become our writer?

I was SHOCKED! But said YES!

A week later or so Meguiar's flew me down to Irvine, California, the John Wayne Airport, which is just a few blocks from Meguiar's Corporate Office. I was there for 3 days, Monday through Wednesday. I didn't meet and talk to Barry until the last few hours of Wednesday. Until then, Mike Pennington basically entertained me in the training room and shared one of his Train the Trainer classes with me.

My flight back home left John Wayne at 6:00pm. I kept wondering, when am I going to meet Barry Meguiar? Then about 4:00pm, just before I need to leave to go to the airport Barry walked into the room. He put his hand out to shake mine and instead of say,

Hi, I'm Barry Meguiar, (kind of like people normally do when meeting each other), instead he said,

I love your writing style

I've tried to hire professional writers with degrees and backgrounds in writing and it never works. There's no passion. There's no "car guy" feel to their writing. Would you like to move to California and take over the writing responsibilities for our company.

And of course I said YES!

It took a year before the position was created and I left my job at the Pulp Mill and moved to Irvine, California. My first day of work I was given the below business card and after making the rounds at the office and being introduced to everyone, I started typing.


That's the story behind the story. I had a great time working for Meguiar's at the Corporate Office. I held the position of Corporate Writer for the first 2 years, 2002 to 2004 and then I because I had started teaching detailing classes in the garage there at Meguiar's and coordinating them via discussion forums, my Manager at that time, Dick Koeth, he came to me and said,


Everyone really likes the work your doing as a writer... but, we also really like the classes you're teaching in the garage and then sharing them on the Internet. The company would like you to write your own job description. When you're done, give it to me and I'll meet with all of upper management.

That's when a new position was created called, Internet Technical Specialist.


I always thought the title made the job sound like a person that set-up computer servers or something like that but what I did was basically brought up the MeguiarsOnline.com car detailing discussion forum. I wrote how-to articles, answered detailing questions, coordinated and taught detailing classes. I did this from 2005 until 2009. In 2009, Meghan, here at Autogeek contacted me and asked me if I could travel to Florida to the Autogeek Detail Fest show and teach the class I was teaching at Meguiar's at Detail Fest. And as the saying goes,

The rest is history....

Hope you enjoyed the background story on how writing a simple how-to book took me down a great life adventure that continues to this day.

I'm not sure when the interview comes out but I'll update this thread when it does.


Mike Phillips
11-22-2019, 04:52 PM

After seeing success with the printing of my first how-to book, I dove into a rewrite to expand it for the second edition.


I changed the name to the title I originally wanted as I also owned a car detailing discussion forum by the same name, TheArtofPolishingPaint.com You can find it on the Wayback Machine dating back to May of 2003.

Here's the copies of these first two books in real-time on my desk. I also have the original text on an old laptop as well as 2 floppy discs. :laughing:







11-22-2019, 04:57 PM
WOW! What an interesting story!!! Thanks for sharing with us. Do you still have your big block, red Chevy truck?

Mike Phillips
11-22-2019, 05:24 PM
WOW! What an interesting story!!! Thanks for sharing with us.

There's even more to the story, the above is the nutshell version. :)

Do you still have your big block, red Chevy truck?

Sad and happy to say I sold it. I don't normally like trucks this new, I'm more of a 70's truck guy and I prefer big blocks in all my toys. The 1987 Silverado had a 350 small block. It ran so good it would have been a crime to remove it and install a big block. A little over a year ago my wife and I moved to a new Condo and they don't allow trucks so I sold it.

1987 Silverado - 12" lift and 40" Tires - a BLAST to drive!


Here's the story behind that truck,

1987 Chevy 4x4 Monster Truck "Before & After" Pictures (http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/pictures-autogeek-s-car-week/64823-1987-chevy-4x4-monster-truck-before-after-pictures.html)


11-22-2019, 05:54 PM
Great read, Mike.

Very cool story as well. :)

11-22-2019, 06:31 PM
I heard a more condensed version of that story. I forget where.

But, still enjoyed reading this!! "He's going to sue me" - I would have thought the same

11-22-2019, 08:09 PM
Very interesting read Mike. I enjoyed it.

Aaryn NZ
11-22-2019, 09:06 PM
Too cool Mike. :props:

I too had heard a bit of this story but even though this is a “Nut Shell” version it’s more detailed than I knew. Haha, funny & scary about Barry’s phone call, I would’ve been sick to the stomach.

Your milk truck rocked!!! That’s pretty cool, I love how old cars have those characteristics, such as the door rattling! New cars just do everything too well, there’s no soul.

Thanks for posting this up Mike, shall we place orders for a reprint???

Aaryn NZ. :dblthumb2:

Mike Phillips
12-04-2019, 04:51 PM
Great read, Mike.

Very cool story as well. :)

Yeah, it was an interesting time to be alive.

Sometimes I miss the lack of complexity driving Scoop for 12 hours simply pushing wood chips. At the Pulp Mill, there were 3 mountains of chips. You're building one mountain with fresh wood chips being brought to the mill via Semi Trucks. Watching the trucks unload was surreal as they would back up on these ramps and then the ramps would rise into the air at a steep, sharp angle and then the chips via gravity slide out of the trailers into a hopper that feeds the chips to the chip pile via conveyor belts. My job was to push the chips out landing under the conveyor belt and push them to where we're building the chip mountain.

The only way to keep up with the inflow of chips was to run the Scoop pretty much as fast as she would go, about 8 to 10 miles per hour.

While you're building one mountain, another mountain is just in waiting. And the 3rd mountain you're pushing into a different set of feeder bowls the use conveyer belts to carry chips into the mill.

We worked 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week.

When you arrive to work you get a Pass down from the Scoop Operator ending their shift and then head out to the Scoop and start pushing. Turn on the stereo, the air conditioning and then put the pedal to the metal.


Mike Phillips
01-19-2021, 10:32 AM

Shared here,

Best video ever on how to machine buff a car from start to finish (https://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/how-to-articles-by-mike-phillips/107003-best-video-ever-how-machine-buff-car-start-finish-7.html)