ROBERT L. "BUD" ABRAHAM
FOUNDER, DETAIL PLUS
Robert Louis Abraham – or, as we know him, Bud Abraham – has a lifetime of service and innovation to the detailing industry. Bud was Detail Plus, and he is, in almost every corner of the globe, synonymous with detailing.
While he has been a fixture in the car wash and detail business for over 45 years, Bud didn’t set out to be a detailer. He actually started out with aspirations of being a lawyer, but he decided against it and, just out of college, he began teaching. This allowed him time to also pursue another of his lifetime loves: coaching. He coached youth sports, football and basketball. And while teaching and coaching would be only a short lived vocation for him, they would become a lifetime avocation. Over the years he has held hundreds of seminars and produced videos on detailing, business management, and sales. He has written manuals on detailing and shop operation, and the number of articles he has written number in the thousands. Ever the educator, he has incorporated training and education into every system he has ever sold, because he has believed it is not enough to have the right tools, you have to have the knowledge and skills to go with them. He has always been there to coach, teach, and mentor anyone in the business, and he is always willing to take a call from a detailer. Many leaders in the industry today can count Bud as a significant influence on them to this day. It is a testament to his impact on the lives of those whom he has coached that, 50 years later, his players still call him "Coach".
In 1969, Bud went to work for Hanna Car Wash Systems as an international Sales Manager. It was during this time that he began to develop his many contacts around the world, and broadened his view to a global approach, one that has served him well over the years. Bud left Hanna in 1980.
It was at this time that Bud started his own import/export business, with no intention of being in the wash or detail business. Again, a greater power was at work, and in 1981 he was introduced to the concept of the Detail Plus equipment and system. At this time he began to manufacture the equipment that would become his hallmark, and he also opened and operated three detail shops. Many people don’t know he was an operator too. He was indeed, and was very successful, but after well over a decade of operation, Bud decided to focus on Detail Plus, and sold the shops.
Ever the innovator, Bud has always pushed for adoption of new products and inventions. From chemical delivery systems to advocating for air tools, and adding extra services, he was always looking for ways to help detailers be more successful.
Bud has long felt that it is not enough to just be in business; you must also participate in your industry. To that end, he has always been a part of associations in our industry. He was part of the PDA (Professional Detailers Association) serving on its board, has been part of the ICA and WCA (International and Western Car Wash Associations), and, of course, the IDA. Bud served on the Board of Directors for the PDA, ICA, and WCA. He may be the only detailer ever to serve on the Board of the ICA. At a time when no one wanted to hear about detailing, Bud was our voice. He advocated for us and for what we could become. And, he is, without question, the founder of the IDA. It was Bud in 2007-2008 who began putting together the group of businesses that would later contribute to and be part of starting the IDA. In 2008, in Orlando, at a Denny’s (of all places), he brought these folks together, as only Bud could do, to plant the seed that would become what the IDA is today. He served as the first Executive Director, and once he had the IDA on its feet, helped find Sheryle Hazard, CAE, and her team, and stepped aside.
Bud made Detail Plus a family affair. His wife of 48 years, Sheryl, and daughters Marnie, Aimee, Georgie, and Jolie, have been along for his journey, and at one time or another all have worked at Detail Plus. Often, Sheryl would accompany Bud on his many trips around the world. And he has had a truly global impact on detailing, selling and installing detail systems around the world – 25 countries and 6 continents in all – as well as 30 states. If it were possible to put one in Antarctica, he probably would have, though it's doubtful Sheryl would have gone along on that trip.
With every system, there was training and education, mentoring and support. It was never enough to just get the sale, he had to make sure you could be successful, and this is why Bud has had the impact he has. He built a relationship with his customers and took a real interest in their success. In return, that has become his success. Today, it is safe to say that, Bud’s impact was global. It’s tough to measure – or even comprehend – his effect on our industry.
Mr. Abraham is also a recipient of the IDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2016).