BY OYAOL NGIRAIRIKL
Journal Staff

Pat Leon Guerrero and his crew at Pat’s Tinting & Detailing in front of their shop in Tamuning. (From left rear) James Espinosa, John Ungacta, Joey De-Castro, Josh Cruz, Raph Yepes and Paul Diaz; and (from left, front row) John Salas holding Noah Salas, Chassidy Duenas holding baby Stellamae, Pat Leon Guerrero, Jennifer Cruz, and Kimo Reyes.
Photo by Oyaol Ngirairikl

In the last few years, there have been more auto detailing and tinting shops popping up on Guam, with ads coming across social media feeds.

“That’s great,” said an enthusiastic Pat Leon Guerrero, owner of Pat’s Tinting & Detailing.

Joseph Roberto, managing member for Roberto Enterprises is just as encouraged.

For two men who have made a name for themselves in the tinting and detailing industry, it’s exciting to see young up and comers who are chasing their dreams, just as they did when they were younger.

“I am one to encourage (young people) to try it. You’ll never know where it might take you and if you have that dream, by all means do it,” Roberto said. “Honestly, we need more people to start their own businesses.”

He said the growth in the auto detailing industry on island comes down to saving people time and effort in their busy lives.

“When you talk about the industry, and this is just my opinion, why do I think the industry has grown so much? I’ll give you one word, convenience. People like you, like me, are always looking for convenience.

“And then you combine that convenience with a level of professionalism,” he said, and that draws and keeps customers.

The pandemic served as an impetus for many startups, whether it was auto-detailing, a food truck or a lawn service business, Roberto said. “COVID-19 was horrible. Don’t get me wrong. But it also forced people to get creative … whether it was with gardening, taking jobs they may not have considered before, or finally taking the plunge on a dream. That was an opportunity,” he said. 

And with roughly 120,000 vehicles registered at the Department of Revenue and Taxation, there’s a lot of business to go around.

“It’s not hard. You don’t need a college degree,” Leon Guerrero said. With today’s products both tinting and auto detailing have gotten easier, but still require a lot of elbow grease, attention to detail and a passion for what you’re doing.

Leon Guerreoro started his business tinting car windows out of his Dededo home in 1993. He was about 20 years old at the time.

But after six months, he realized he needed space. And he said this is the point where a young entrepreneur needs to make a decision.

“It’s easy if you’re doing one car a day,” he said. “But if you’re going to be in it for the long haul, then establish yourself and go out and do it hard.” The decision wasn’t easy for him. “I had just bought a Jeep … I was like, how can I pay for my Jeep and afford the rent (of a building),” he said. “But what got me going … was Fred Jackson from Jackson’s Car wash.”

He was able to lease a small space for two cars from Jackson near the car wash. Leon Guerrero said he needed customers so he came up with a plan. Other places were removing tint for a price — if tinting cost $199, there would be a $70 fee for tint removal. He offered old tint removal for free. It worked.

“That’s why I needed my brother. We were so busy — at the time three to four cars a day was a lot,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I went from getting paid by the hour to making $500 to $600 a day.”

But renting that space and working alongside his brother, John Salas, and seeing the profit they were making helped him realize the possibilities.

“That’s where I got the mindset to get more guys. Also, I listened to other businessmen, even though they weren’t a tint shop,” he said. They told him, “‘You know what you need to do? Get a better space, put in four to five cars into the space and do 10 cars a day and you’ll see your quota, your revenues go up.’”

He also listened to his customers. The tinting business was up and running when the auto detailing aspect of the business started to appear. This was around 1995, Leon Guerrero said. 

“It started with ladies, to be honest,” he said, explaining it was pregnant moms who wanted their cars cleaned before they brought baby home. He and his brother started with bottles of Tuff Stuff spray but graduated quickly and bought an extractor, which they named Betsy, and that side of the business took off.

“Having that machine made everything faster,” he said.

Following a safety briefing at East Island Tinting, Joe Roberto takes a photo of his crew. From left, standing, Coby Cepeda, Austin Rios, Shawn Reyes, Mark Alegarbes, Julita Cruz, Angelica San Nicolas, Jose Pangelinan, Tristen Roberto, and Thomas Roberto. Kneeling is Isaiah Buendicho. And not shown in the photo is team member Jacien Untalan.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Roberto

From doing the work by himself out of his home, to tinting and cleaning cars with his brother, to a staff of 12 tinters and detailers, he’s appreciative of the opportunities he’s been given. He’s also grateful for those businesspeople who took the time to talk to him, but he reiterated that young entrepreneurs need to want to learn and not be afraid of the hard work if they want to succeed.

Roberto agrees. He is the managing member for Roberto Enterprises; East Island Tinting LLC which also does business as North Island Tinting and Paradise Auto Spa LLC. The group is based in East Agana and Dededo and was founded in 1998.

Much like Leon Guerrero, he got his start at Jackson’s Car Wash, and his shop started with tinting but branched into auto detailing at the request of customers.

“We had been auto-detailing for years,” he said, adding that many people would ask for a wash and vacuum or something more while the car was with them for a tint. He said that was the concept behind the name Paradise Auto Spa — convenience with a little bit of pampering. It also welcomed women into the world of auto detailing. It’s reflected in the names for their various treatment options, which include Tropical Deluxe, Detox and Glo, Touch of Luxury, and Rejuvenation.

Roberto started Paradise Auto Spa started with his brother-in-law Danny Cruz. Cruz used to work at Elegant Reflections and “was known as one of the best auto detailers,” Roberto said.   Before the pandemic, “business was going beautiful,” he said. “We grew from one staff member and added four others.”

Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, they had to close shop like everyone else, but it’s given him a new hunger. The pandemic struck while they were constructing Northern Island Tinting. In February, they officially opened the shop, and that part of the business has been busy. He said the auto-detailing slows down during the elections, but he expects it to pick up around the holidays.

“I don’t know why. But it never fails. On an election year, for a couple months before the election it slows down. Then once the elections are over, it picks up again,” he said with a shrug. “We’re already starting to see it speed up but just wait. Come November it’s going to be really busy.” mbj