Belfast Telegraph

Mark's in Top Gear as he cleans up in his ideal job

SME focus: Car valeting

When Mark Smiley began cleaning cars to help pay his way through university, little did he know that it was the beginning of a full-time career that would take him to cities across the UK and Europe.

The enterprising 29-year-old Dunloy man was studying for a degree in Sports Science at Jordanstown in 2003 when he took the first steps towards creating Total Perfection, a car valeting and detailing business that would later be hired by the BBC's Top Gear Live Show, which visited Belfast last month.

He said: "The idea for Total Perfection was born when I began the car washing business at university. The business really took off and I began to realise that I could make a living out of this. We eventually became a full-time business after we added car valeting services in 2007."

The company moved up a gear when they received a call from the organisers of Top Gear Live in 2008 to look after the supercars and stunt cars for their show in Dublin.

The guys hit it off with the backstage team and have recently completed their eighth and ninth shows in Belfast and Sheffield for the renamed Clarkson, Hammond & May Live events. They will be going to Stavanger in Norway for the next show on June 19-21.

In this way Mark has maintained his interest in sport, as his company works with the high performance sports cars that so wowed the crowds at the Clarkson, Hammond & May Live shows at the Odyssey Arena last month.

"There are hundreds of cleaning companies throughout the UK to choose from, so for a small company from Northern Ireland to be selected by Top Gear and then by Clarkson, Hammond & May to look after these amazing cars is a great honour," he said.

Total Perfection are also responsible for cleaning the cars of top Northern Ireland golfers Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell and the company was present at the recent Irish Open at Royal Co Down.

Mark and his team are used to the pressure of working on a big event. The company was chosen to clean the cars of world leaders at the G8 Summit in Enniskillen in 2013.

He recalls driving to the George Best City Airport to polish up President Obama's limousine - 'The Beast'.

"That was an incredible experience as the car itself is one of the most famous in the world. To be able to work on it was one of the highlights of our careers. It is a lovely car but the inside is quite plain, but the carpet is so thick your feet just sink into it," he added.

Total Perfection's approach to car detailing reflects their name. The team has travelled to England, Switzerland and Italy to train in the latest cleaning techniques - Swisswax, G-Technic and Rupes.

The company, which recently completed work at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Show, has a specialist workshop and mobile unit that tours the length and breadth of Northern Ireland making sure vehicles are in perfect condition.

Belfast Telegraph