Experienced Battle Ground Marine runs successful auto detailing business

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A Better Shine Auto Detailing and Ceramics in Battle Ground has kept local residents’ cars spotless, and co-owner Irving Duffy Jr. has no plans of slowing down.

The business has won in the category of auto detailers in 2021’s Best of Clark County.

Duffy, who is a retired Marine, has always been passionate about cars. A Better Shine offers a variety of services performed by the former soldier and his crew.

“We do pretty much anything with auto detailing,” said Duffy. “We do interior details, exterior details, paint corrections, scratch removals, ceramics. We also detail boats and RVs. We’re pretty flexible in our services.”

One particular job Duffy is proud of is a boat he cleaned from Northwest Boats, who Duffy said is a frequent client of theirs. The business has sent Malibus, bayliners and MasterCrafts to the detailing business.

“We’ve had some very challenging black boats that we’ve detailed for them and exceeded their expectations,” he said.

Prior to the creation of A Better Shine, Duffy processed disability compensation for veterans at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, but he said he “didn’t fit into the routine of a nine-to-five job.” Duffy said the job could be stressful at times as he learned of the traumatic events some of the veterans endured.

He then bought the company in December of 2018. He originally operated the business out of his van but later opened his own shop in Battle Ground in June of 2020. This past April, Duffy opened a second location in Woodland. In April of 2022, Duffy plans to open a third location in Vancouver, although the location of the third shop has not yet been determined.

“This business, for me, is more satisfying,” Duffy said. “I don’t detail as much anymore because of my disabilities, but I do have a crew that I trained and they’re super talented. They are the bread and butter of the business.”

Duffy served in the Marine Corps for 21 years. He was stationed in Beirut and Lebanon and fought in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War.

“I was (also) part of one of the first infantry units to cross the minefields to liberate Kuwait,” he said.

His unit was the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines regimen. During his time in the service, he was ordered to recover a vehicle that was destroyed in Iraq and suffered an injury after a tank shell was fired meters away from him, Duffy said.

“I ended up with a pretty bad traumatic brain injury that required a bunch of surgeries,” Duffy recalled. “My jaw, nose, shoulders, hand, and head needed plates and screws put in. What saved us was that there was a reconnaissance team up on a hill that saw everything that was happening. They called in an air strike and destroyed the tank before it could do any more damage to us.”

While his combat years are long over, Duffy said he is always open to veterans who want to apply and work at his shop. Despite the trauma and injuries he sustained, Duffy said his experience in the Marines carried over into his business. He uses the time management skills and the strong work ethic he learned in the service at his shops. 

He also aims to leave his wife, Violeta, with a stable future when he passes away. Violeta is a co-owner of the company.

“This business is a legacy for my wife,” Duffy said. “I think that any man or husband wants to make sure they’re at peace and they’re not going to leave their wives in a compromising situation. That has driven me more than anything to make this business flow. I want her to have a good standard of living in the event that I pass.”

The couple met during Duffy’s last assignment when he was stationed in Peru.

“Since I brought her here to the states, I need to make sure she’s taken care of for the rest of her life,” he said.

The Battle Ground shop is located at 21815 NE Rodda Road, while the Woodland one is at 1875 Belmont Loop. Both locations are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 360-637-2013.

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