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Phil D'Avanzo reinvents his Portland auto-detailing business with eco-friendly approach at new Gresham location

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Steam cleaning allows Phil D'Avanzo to save more than 70 gallons of water per vehicle over traditional pressure washing. Looking around the double-bay garage of Phil D'Avanzo's Auto Bliss Detail, two things one associates with car and truck shops are conspicuous by their absence: a hose and a drain.

For a business dedicated to transforming even the grungiest of vehicles back to near-showroom splendor, there is little sign of grit, grime, grease, oil or any of the industrial residue commonly found in such environments.

That's just the way D'Avanzo, a Reynolds High School graduate, planned it.

After four years of operating a traditional auto detailing shop in the Montavilla business district in Southeast Portland, the part-time personal trainer relocated to Gresham. He switched from using pressure washers, hoses and chemicals of varying toxicity to an eco-friendly approach he devised through his own research.

"It's something I've created," says D'Avanzo, 39. "Traditional detailing uses hoses, pressure washers, hydrofluoric acid and things of that sort. We've flipped the switch and turned it around."

With a steady stream of new customers, plus returnees he lured east from Montavilla, he's finding the approach is paying off and winning converts who initially were skeptical.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Auto Bliss employee Jacob Crase wipes down the door of a customer's SUV with a clay-lined cloth that removes dirt, grime and residue from surfaces far more effectively than traditional wash methods."I'm so excited and proud of what we're doing here," he says. "We've been blowing people away with the new technology."

Marketing a mission of quality service via "cutting-edge products that are safe for our environment and health," Auto Bliss uses what D'Avanzo calls the "Optimum No-Rinse" system, steam-cleaning and vapor sanitation to clean vehicles inside and out. He estimates the "waterless" wash — in which a polymer from a spray bottle and a cloth captures dirt, encapsulating it into bubbles and pulling it away from the surface — saves more than 70 gallons of water per vehicle.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Gresham business owner Phil D'Avanzo has brought a new auto detailing business to Gresham that does not use pressure washing or chemicals. "We were spending about $300 a month on our water bill," he says. "Now it's zero."

All residue ends up on towels, leaving little if any water on the floor. For the dirtier vehicles, and to clean engines and passenger spaces, including air vents, D'Avanzo uses a Vapor Chief steam-cleaning system.

"I've eliminated all chemicals with the steamer," he says.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Auto Bliss employee Jacob Crase looks on as Phil D'Avanzo wets down the exterior of a customer's vehicle.Detailing packages at Auto Bliss start at $75, but like anything else involving auto-related services, you can always spend more depending on what you want to have done. D'Avanzo covers just about anything related to cleaning, but has subcontractors to cover additional tasks such as leather repair, upholstery or minor body or structural work.

"One customer spent $600 on a Ferrari," D'Avanzo notes with a grin.

A core part of his customer base are those ready to sell their vehicle.

"Typically, an automobile is the second-biggest investment, besides a home, that anyone makes," he says. "(Detailing) helps with that investment, including when they decide to trade it in or sell it. I'm the one they call when they decide to sell the car."

When not detailing at the shop with employees Jose Chavez and Jacob Crase or working with personal training clients, D'Avanzo often is online. He compares the products he uses with others in the business who strive to use less water, fewer chemicals and create less waste in the car-detailing process.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Phil D'Avanzo steam cleans the engine compartment of a Chevrolet SUV.7. "This is my own research," he says. "When I'm not here, I'm on forums and studying."

Despite the new Trump administration advocating deregulation of environmental standards, D'Avanzo believes concerns for maintaining air and water quality are an increasingly fundamental part of doing business.

"If we want to keep this industry strong," he says, "we have to find other ways to do this."

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