A side job washing vehicles blossomed into a full-time business for Roger Perry in Arkadelphia. Perry operates RP Detail, providing custom cleaning service for SUVs, trucks and cars.
“I’m 46 years old, and I love what I do,” he said.
Sept. 1 marked the third anniversary of Perry starting to do business at 143 N. 16th St. on property he owns in a building he had constructed. The 1,620-SF, two-bay structure also houses his wife’s business, True Beauty.
Tineska Perry opened her hair salon this year in space previously used for his office. “Now I’m here, and I can help him,” she said.
A little-used storage room was converted into his office. “I just need a place to sit and talk with a customer every now and then,” he said. “I do most of my work by appointment. I don’t put more on my plate than I can chew.”
Word-of-mouth marketing from satisfied clients has served Perry well, and helped to build a steady stream of customers over the years.
Good reports on his work attracted business with an expanded draw beyond Arkadelphia, from customers in Bismarck and Gurdon and some as far away as Hot Springs, Little Rock and even Russellville.
“If you do a good job, you never know how far it will go,” said Perry, who grew up 24 miles down the road in Sparkman (Dallas County). “Word of mouth has been a really big deal for me, and loyalty, which goes a long way.”
His commercial venue serves as a calling card displaying RP Detail to passing traffic on Pine Street, one of Arkadelphia’s main drags. Within the city limits, this east-west corridor of Hwy. 8 also bears the designation as an honorary drive: Dr. M.L. King Jr.
Before setting up shop in his current location, Perry worked across the street on leased property. His only protection from the elements while cleaning vehicles was an awning that originally provided cover for gas pumps at the former filling station.
Business reached the point where Perry felt he needed to quit his job as a line technician at the Scroll Technologies plant so he could devote his full attention to RP Detail.
“My thing is I’m here in Arkadelphia,” he said. “I’m insured and bonded, honest and trustworthy. Everybody in this town knows Roger Perry. I know how to sell business. Your business is you. I stand by everything we do.”
During down time at his previous location, Perry would look across the street at a vacant lot and picture a building to house his business, a building that would allow him to work better in heat or cold, rain or shine, in a building he owned.
Perry credits the local Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center at Henderson State University as an invaluable contributor to helping make his dream a reality.
The center provided him with guidance on how to run a successful enterprise, putting together and refining a business plan and getting his ducks in a row to qualify for a business loan and additional funding.
“They came through for me, and they continue to work with me,” Perry said. “I’m still learning.”
Helping fund operations at his new facility was a $25,000 grant from the Economic Development Program Plus, a small-business grant program administered by the Federal Home Loan Bank in Dallas.
A friend, customer and local contractor, Billy Bunn, contributed his building know-how to help make the construction project happen.
“He helped me walk through the building process,” Perry said. “He built my building.”
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When he bought the vacant lot, it came in a $58,000 package deal that included an adjoining 1,412-SF house at 141 N. 16th St.
Initially, the residence was tidied up and rented for additional income. But Perry has since moved his family in and made it his home.
He considers it a moral obligation to encourage budding entrepreneurs and do what he can to help them make their way.
“You just gotta want it for yourself,” Perry said. “But whatever you need, I’ll help you. I had to have somebody help me. My thing is giving back to the community.”
The physical distance of where he used to operate his business over at 1600 Pine St. doesn’t reflect the ground he’s covered to arrive at buying his own property and developing his own facility.
“I walk out and look across the street and think ‘Wow,’” Perry said of where he used to be and where he is now. “My heart goes out to Arkadelphia and Clark County — they have supported me over the years. If there wasn’t a ‘them,’ there wouldn’t be a ‘me.’”
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