1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
Our origins at AQS come from working with dealerships. Typically, when a used car is traded in or purchased by a dealership at an auto auction, there is a long process involved with getting that car ready for sale again.
Spending so much time on dealership lots, Daryl saw first-hand that they could be served better with a one-stop body and- detail shop driven by efficiency and innovation. Daryl’s first company AutoUpLink Mid-Atlantic has this last part covered – getting the car published online – but he quickly saw that the remaining steps in the process were all handled by different vendors. Having so many vendors to manage was slowing down the reconditioning process.
Daryl’s insight led to the founding of Automotive Quality Solutions in 2012, bringing a highly unique combination of services to dealerships and private owners around Loudoun County. Some of the services AQS can do include paint & body-work, premium vehicle detailing, ceramic coatings, paint protection films,
door dings, scratches, hail damage, curb rash on wheels, windshield stars, foggy headlights…all of these unsightly annoyances once required multiple trips to different shops and often proved too time consuming to repair.
At AQS we believe, quite passionately, that we treat every customer as we would a close friend, family member, or good neighbor. The moment a potential customer enters our shop they become part of the process. Our aim is to educate every customer – show them what we will do, explain why we will do it, and how we do it better than anyone else. We believe that customers are our biggest asset and our greatest sales tool. We even do something that is virtually unheard of in the auto repair world – we offer to bring customers back into our workshop to show them our facility!
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
It’s obviously a huge honor to even be nominated! There are thousands of businesses in Loudoun County and to be recognized as a finalist for an award is a huge accomplishment for AQS. I very much believe this is a company award, as our employees are the ones who deliver on our vision and have put us in this position. While I am extremely humbled and honored, the testament to our employees is much more important. As for the business, I hope it will help make more people aware of the incredible work we do so we can help them build value in their vehicles too.
3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?
I would either be enjoying time at a sporting event (love the Caps and Nats), on a boat in the Potomac or traveling around the country and the world.
4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?
I am reading a book called “Work the System” and it is helping us become more efficient in our businesses. My favorite book of these last many years is “I am Pilgrim”
5. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
I had a few hours like this 2 weeks ago! I did absolutely nothing and it was awesome! With 24 hours, the choices seem limitless! I would go to the gym, see a movie, go get a great steak and possibly end up at the new MGM Casino with some friends.
6. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
I would not call it small, however the largest impact has been her confidence in me and the never-ending support of my wife Lori. When quitting one’s job to start something with no customers, no revenue and just an idea. Ohh, let’s not forget, we need to write a big check and then work our butts off with the hope it all works out…yeah, if married, you better have a supportive and understanding spouse, support network and a good masseuse for stress relief…for her!
7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
My number one goal in life all the way up until I grew so tall that it became logistically unrealistic, was to be a helicopter pilot. To this day I still look up whenever I hear one, just to look at it and reminisce for a moment. I planned to go into the medical field, my degree is in Physical Therapy, however when my basketball career ended prematurely due to injury, I decided pretty quickly a few jobs in, that I wanted to start and run my own business.
8. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career? My older brother Wayne. He was quite the entrepreneur growing up from paper routes, and starting two successful businesses before and during college. I learned what it meant to have that work ethic, the struggles, rewards and the freedoms. To this day I still lean on him to advice and ideas, we chat on the phone 4-5 times a week.
9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
The business community for sure, I started my first business elsewhere and had no idea of the support networks, county resources nor what the heck a chamber even was. How lucky am I that I landed in the best county to live, run a business and to have such an amazing chamber of commerce where I have made numerous business connections and friends.
10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?
In my other office in an unnamed sister county, at home, on the road visiting clients or at home spending time with my family.
11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?
I have to narrow it down to only one??? How about visiting our local wineries and breweries with family and friends while finishing the day up at one of our bazillion fantastic restaurants…that counts as one, right???
Daryl Collette, owner, Automotive Quality Solutions
Register Here for the Loudoun Small Business Awards, November 2, 2017