You could easily drive through the sleepy little town of Bonanza, Arkansas, blink and miss the metal building that serves as home base to one of the country’s permiere suppliers of detailing products.
“We like it here,” says Irene Bernardo, owner of Top Of The Line Detailing. Irene has an infectous laugh, a sharp wit, a kind heart and a passion for detailing – she knows her stuff, as does her staff. “It’s so fun to find a cool new product and introduce it to people,” says Irene as she leads me through her expanding facility.
“The business started as a result of us [her and her husband, John] detailing some concours vehicles. We had been detailing our cars for some time, but didn’t realize how big the industry was until we detailed a high-end BMW M5 for a concours event at Octoberfest,” says Irene. “Once we realized what was out there, and recognized the demand for the products, we began to sell products from a tent at car shows across the country. Our detailing service and product sales started to grow, and things got real busy,” she says.
Before she knew it, Irene had quite an arsenal of products at her disposal, including the Cyclo polisher. “The Cyclo was our first entry into the professional detailing world,” she says as she picks up a shiny, new Cyclo random orbital polisher. “We’re now the largest distributor for the Cyclo in the United States.”
But Irene and her crew haven’t forgotten about the enthusiast level detailer – they have plenty of boutique products, tools and equpiment that’s certain to satisfy everyone’s needs. “We love working with professional detailers, and we love to help the ordinary weekend detailer,” Irene says as the phones continue to ring relentlessly in the background. I ask her if today is typical of how many orders they receive each day. “Oh yeah,” she says smiling, “We stay plenty of busy – have you seen our new Web site?”
We walk over to Irene’s desk (which is situated on the showroom floor) and take a peek at what she’s been working on – a new Web site, complete with products for everything from airplanes to recreational vehicles. Irene says that she hopes to launch the new site sometime this fall.
“The Internet has been a tremendous help to our business. We used to do catalogs and direct mail pieces, but that was a nightmare. The Web works great for us – I’d say at least two-thirds of our orders come in via the Web,” says Ms. Bernardo as we walk toward the warehouse.
Sitting in front of another computer are Myra and Twila, both of whom are busy on the phone taking orders. Myra is the office manager and Twila handles a lot of the billing and customer service issues. If you’ve called Top Of The Line, you’ve probably talked with Twila.
In the warehouse, there are rows and rows of metal shelves, all brimming with dozens of detailing products. I had to pinch myself, for this felt just like my version of heaven. Don, Marilyn and Cassie are busy packing an order, while Gina is weighing the packages and preparing shipping labels.
Despite what is obviously a very busy area, everyone takes time to introduce themselves and answer my questions, and as they do, one thing becomes extremely clear – these folks love their jobs and are sincerely interested in providing the best service possible to their customers.
I watch as an order is printed, “pulled,” packaged and processed for shipping. The entire process is seamless, with everyone working together to make sure the customer gets exactly what they ordered. Irene comments, “It’s hard to believe that all of this started in an ‘office’ no bigger than the typical bathroom.” She’s refering to her first official suite – the one she had before she acquired the current facility.
We wander a little further and are greeted with yet another area of warehouse, only it’s empty. “We’re getting ready to expand the warehouse, so this area will be filled with products fairly soon,” she says, pointing in both directions to help illustrate how products will be organized.
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While there, I took time to examine some of the goodies that Irene showcases in the main show room. There were various AutoArt pieces (I like the salt and pepper shaker set best), plenty of racing artwork (Irene and her husband, John, are huge racing fans, having campaigned a BMW 1502 themselves), and a slew of incredible detailing supplies.
There are Metabo power tools, which are an incredible line of German made equipment, buffers from Cyclo, Makita and Porter Cable, and dozens and dozens of detailing products – everything from Hi-Temp, Klasse, Pinnacle, P21S, Top of The Line and countless more.
Irene took a few moments to show a few really cool new products to me including a mobile canopy, a trim restorer kit, some new waxes and a pet hair remover that really works. I couldn’t leave without grabbing a group photo as well as a few photos of Tatsu.
“Before you leave,” Irene said, “I wanted to tell you something about the ‘pro’ products that I think is very important.” I was all ears – Irene had shared information and tips with me that I’d never thought of. She continued, “People tend to think that ‘pro’ stuff is inferior to the boutique products, and that’s just not the case. The products are less expensive, sure, and they’re concentrated, but that’s a positive – you get more product for the buck. Everything we sell here has been tested thoroughly and we wouldn’t sell it if we didn’t believe in it.”
After seeing how customer focused the crew at Top Of The Line is, I had no reason to doubt her. So, I bought almost $100 worth of products and went on my merry way… and I’m happy to report that she was correct – the pro products that I tried were extremely high quality and provided awesome results. So if you’re in the market to try something new, or are looking for a hard to find item, or just need to stock-up on your favorite products, give the friendly folks at Top Of The Line a call. You’ll be glad you did, and they’ll be more than happy to help you.