Jan. 22—LEWISTON — They do not drive flashy cars or wear designer bling. In fact, one drives an older model Ford Focus and their "designer" clothing consists of matching gray hooded sweatshirts emblazoned with the logo of their company, Black Diamond Detailing.
A year ago Abdinur Mohamed and Abdirahman Saeed sat in a small office in Auburn, tossing about ideas for a business. For an hour they say they talked about opening a day care, a juicing company and a long list of ideas of businesses they could start. Suddenly, it just clicked Mohamed said, snapping his fingers.
"I was like, my car's dirty," he recounted, "how much can we charge people for detailing?" So, they started buying everything, investing their money. By the end of January, the decision was made. "We were like, we're going to take our first step," Mohamed said, "we're going to detail people's cars."
Teamwork is the unofficial mantra of the two young African American entrepreneurs, who have made tackling the dirt and grime that accumulates in almost every car in Maine their business.
Which begs the question, how dirty are the cars they clean?
"It's not as crazy as you think," Saeed said. "You'd be surprised if you go inside your car and pick up the trash here and there and it will look a lot cleaner than it was before."
True, but some of the cars on their social media website look pretty rough at the outset.
The pair started out as a mobile detailing business, going house to house, on the streets, at businesses, just about anywhere. Customers raved and loved the convenience of the mobile concept — they would come to you. In May 2022, they took part in the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce's "Top Gun" competition, gaining a little more notoriety.
In October, they announced a brief pause, as they prepared the next step in their progression by taking the plunge and leasing a brick and mortar location at 409 Sabattus St. Last week, they announced the addition of a valet service to facilitate pickup and dropoff of vehicles.
It was definitely an on-the-job training experience for the two, who didn't know a lot about detailing at first.
"We watched a bunch of videos, we just learned off mistakes we made," Saeed explained. "Trying out new chemicals, trying out tools seeing what works, what doesn't. When you do it a lot you just know what works and what doesn't. We just adapt!"
Adapt they have, upgrading to some specialty equipment to do a better job. They bought an extractor to help remove stains and a steamer, which helps with the nooks and crannies in people's cars, and they bought some boar hair brushes to help cleaning surfaces like dashboards.
They've also grown their team, adding a marketing person who handles their website and social media. Abdurahman Saeed calls him a great addition to the team. They've added few others to help run the seven-day-a-week operation.
"I just learned that in business — it doesn't have to be detailing but any business out there — you can't do it by yourself," Saeed said. "You gotta have a good team behind you, that you can throw ideas back and forth from, because at the end of the day, you can't get to the top by yourself."
Saeed, at 22 years old, is the excitable spark of the team who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and grew up in Lewiston, graduating from Lewiston High School and moving on to Central Maine Community College for two years. Mohamed, at 23, is the more pensive of the team. He was born and raised in Lewiston and attended Roxbury Community College in Boston, where he took two years of business management courses.
Mohamed said one year on, the business has changed his character. He said he is more patient than before and he sees life in a different, more positive way. "After I started this business you know, I'm like anything can change. I'm detailing a car — it looked bad — I clean (and) it just looks good! I'm like, that's how my character could change, you know?"
His father, who moved back overseas, used to own a small variety and butcher shop in Lewiston. He was back in Lewiston last week and stopped in to see the new shop. "He said, 'you know you learned a lot from me because when you were little you were listening when I was telling you stuff.' He was proud."
The business is obviously doing well.
"This is a great community I can't lie," Abdirahman said. "From the day we started up until now, there's been nothing but support. We haven't gotten negative feedback from nobody. If anything, we've gotten helpful criticism from people to help us grow and help us improve our business and it's really great."
Mohamed and Saeed work in tandem, probably without even thinking about it, and they are fast and thorough. Their minds are constantly thinking about what's next. Perhaps getting into the used car business?
"Yes, that's possible," Mohamed said. "I was thinking too that we could have this in every other state. We want to, like in the near future, have franchises just like bring it to every other state. That's one of our goals!"
Black Diamond Detailing is open from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.