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Hidden Gems: Meet Michael Vargason of Vivid Pro Auto Spa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Vargason.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Initially, I wanted to play sports for the rest of my life. Starting at the age of 4 years old, I played football and baseball. Along the way, I gave basketball a try and also wrestling for a few years. I originally wanted to play in the NFL, but that quickly got denied in 8th grade after I “broke my back,” so to speak. Combine being overweight, and playing D-Line for 8 years and apparently, that’s a perfect equation for what’s scientifically known as “Retrospondylolysthesis.” A long word for my 5th lumber shifting forward in my spine. I collapsed one day at practice and I thought my sporting career was over.

Luckily I was good at baseball and obviously, that doesn’t involve me having to tackle someone or put my spine at risk. I continued to play baseball up until college ball, where that career was also ended with injuries. After high school, I knew I had to lose some weight, and be in tip-top shape to have a chance to succeed in college ball, so I began running… a lot. I would run up to 10 miles a day nearly everyday, and then I’d finish with 20 sprints to really maximize my efforts.

Unfortunately, the repetitive high stress nature of doing sprints and long distance running caused me to break my foot after high school. So I took a year off of sports, in hopes to recover and rehabilitate my foot. My foot doctor told me that it would be highly unlikely for me to break my foot in the same spot again, so I took his advice to the bank and slowly started running again. There was no way around it. About 2 months later, I broke my foot in the same exact spot. This time I was really taking the time to rest and recover, and I wasn’t doing any sprints… It’s safe to say this was one of the most frustrating times of my life. I had lost nearly 40 lbs at this point, and during the span of 3 months, while I was resting my foot, I gained nearly 25 lbs. back.

I watched all my baseball teammates begin to excel in their careers while I was sidelined with a weak foot. Anyways, a year later, after really doing some research and doing everything as good as I could, to rehab my foot, I tried out for college ball. This team had just won the state championship the prior year, so the competition was fierce. Nonetheless, I dug my feet in, and worked my butt off. Coach had just named me the closer which is a vital role in any baseball game. They’re the pitcher they bring in to seal the deal and ensure the hard earned lead isn’t lost. When the championship is on the line, a closer is seen as a kicker in football that needs to kick a field goal in order for the team to win. You get one chance and you cannot get it wrong.

Anyways, a week after I was named the closer, we were doing some conditioning in the outfield and I sadly put my bad foot into a small hole in the grass; that was the end of my baseball career. I only had this last year to put my abilities to the test and I fell short.

After all these setbacks, I really began to understand human anatomy, how the body functions and what it requires to heal and stay healthy. I began to study Kinesiology in college to become either a personal trainer, physical therapist or an athletic trainer. I was already training really hard at the time and I had a pretty good physique at the time, so naturally, I started selling training. At the time, what really sold my decision was that I was receiving financial aid for the first 3 years of my junior college. I was accepted to transfer to SDSU for my 4th year and I was going to have to pay for my own schooling which scared me to death, so I decided that I would pursue personal training because the certification was only a thousand dollars. Seemed like an obvious choice for me.

Skip forward a few months after receiving my certification and I landed a job at LA Fitness as a trainer. Being 19 years old I was lured into the idea of being paid $15/hour and thought it was awesome. Turns out I only had 3 clients to begin with and every session was only 30 minutes. My first paycheck was $250 after 3 weeks of work. Somehow I stuck that out for 6 months until I was fired because they found out I was doing bootcamps at a gym that an old buddy from high school owned. Conflict of interest, apparently. I am grateful for those 6 months because I truly studied my craft hands on, and became a really great trainer.

Unfortunately, I was only able to take 1 client with me to my new location, because LA Fitness locks their clients into a 6-12 month contract that requires 50% of the total owed, to be paid, if they want to end their contract. it’s safe to say, people weren’t willing to pay $2000 to cancel a membership.

Starting from the bottom again was a very humbling experience for me. It made me work harder and become a better business owner. Skip forward 3 years later and I had worked out to be one of the best trainers in San Diego, and I had a strong schedule of clients who loved being with me.

Something that should be noted, is that I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety ever since I was 18 years old. Possibly even before that, and to be honest, I wasn’t in tune with myself enough at the time to truly understand myself that deeply.

Anyways, my last year of personal training, I really hit a wall. Being someone that suffers from depression, you really become a sponge for everyone’s problems. Day in day out, I absorbed every last drop of suffering that my clients told me about. I’ve always been this way and I’ve worked really hard to balance this out in my life. As a trainer, you really are a life coach, at least when you truly care, like I did. I didn’t just tell people to do 20 crunches and pushups and call it a day. I helped people understand the direct correlation between health and life. I taught them why it’s so important to find time for health in your life. I made it my responsibility to ensure that my clients were not only healthy, but happy. In return, they all became close friends of mine, that could share whatever they wanted with me. At the time I really didn’t mind it, I saw myself as an outlet to help them gather themselves back together before entering back into their lives. I took pride in these sorts of things.

What I didn’t know, was that since I’m such a sponge, I really took to heart all of my client’s issues that they weren’t dealing with, and completely forgot to take care of myself. Although I was training, I was overworked, and my health began to decline as I started only caring about my clients, and their health. My depression really started kicking in as well, it wasn’t easy.

The pandemic hit, and naturally, all of my clients didn’t feel safe being in the public gym anymore. I was living at my dad’s place still, and there was a garage that was being used as storage so I decided to take matters into my own hands, and completely convert that into a garage gym.

Unfortunately, I knew in my heart, even after spending all that money and going into debt, that training wasn’t for me anymore. I just wasn’t myself at this point.

I had just purchased a Jeep Wrangler a few months prior and it was really nice, I had just put some expensive set of wheels and tires on it so it looked really badass.

Something I did often for myself, was detail my cars over the years. I really loved the finish product, and that sense of fulfillment from all that hard work really hit home for me. One day, after detailing the Jeep, knowing that I needed cash because training was falling off for me, I took a picture of the finished product and posted it on Facebook to see if anybody would be interested in getting their car detailed. A few people took interest and that was the start of Vivid Pro Auto Spa. I take so much pride in my work, and that really showed in those first few vehicles I did. Enough for people to notice at least. Obviously, I wasn’t the best, but I knew how to detail a car safely and although most of the information on Youtube is sort of bogus in a way, there were a select few channels that I watched that I knew there was absolutely no way that these guys were fake or phony. So I studied their methods and their beliefs and got really good at detailing.

Fast forward nearly 2 years later and we’re in full force! What I thought was simply going to be just a side hustle, turned out to be a huge success. Now we’re the only company who offers SB3 Coatings’ 7 Year Trinity Ceramic Coating in San Diego, we offer Window Tinting and also Color Change Vinyl Wraps. We have multiple clients who see us on a bi-weekly and monthly schedule to keep up on their maintenance, and all of our work shows up on your Carfax Report. Most importantly, we make people happy. That’s what I love most about what I do. As you can tell before, being a personal trainer I really enjoyed putting a smile on people’s faces. Although I’ve had my own struggles, there a few things that will always hold true to my heart, and making people happy will always be one of them.

As for the future, we really hope to move to a big shop and start expanding the business soon! We’ve only been open for business for about 2 years, imagine where we’ll be at year 5! I’m very excited for the future.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Something that has been a constant struggle for me is my depression. I’ve thought about coaching other business owners who struggle with depression, because as the owner, you have no manager looking over you to help you stay on track, and there is no manual guiding you, telling you what you should be doing. Combine all that stress with depression, and the odds are seriously stacked against you. I won’t lie, I’m sure I could have been much farther along in business if it weren’t for my depression, but if you struggle with it, you know that it’s something you have to learn to accept and be okay with if you’re ever going to make a decent life for yourself.

The pandemic was also an obvious obstacle I needed to learn to adapt to. Since it was my first year in business, I had no idea what a normal year should look like. Going into my 2nd year, I could look back at my old months and try to compare but truthfully, it’s still in the air if the growth is tried and true or if it was an outcome of the pandemic. I truly believe that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people in San Diego who would absolutely be customers if it weren’t for the nature of this pandemic. Rightfully so I should say, it’s rational for people to be scared, especially being that most of our customers, for detailing in particular, are of the older demographic. They are considered high risk in this situation so I sympathize for them and truly don’t want to put them in harm’s way. Something I just had to learn to adapt to.

This is sort of a side note, but there is a lot of false information on Youtube regarding products and how effective they are. As a new detailer, it can be so easy to just believe someone who knows how to make a great video, but in all honesty, some of these Youtubers are being paid by companies to tell the public that they are the best product on the market. Our company is prided on tried-and-true products that have been tested in the field by us personally, and we stand behind them 100%. If you are an up-and-coming detailer, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding products and procedures. I wish I had someone to go to for help during my first few months, so by all means, feel free to give me a call!

We’ve been impressed with Vivid Pro Auto Spa, LLC, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We offer high quality color change vinyl wrapping, warranted ceramic coatings, which is a popular option to protect your vehicle from weathering and to help maintain its gloss, exterior detailing such as washing, decontaminating, claying, polishing, paint correction to remove swirls and minor scratches, interior detailing where we clean and shampoo your seats and carpets to make them look as brand new as possible and we also offer high quality window tinting which also comes with a lifetime warranty.

We are considered certified surface specialist which means we are trained professionals to take care of your vehicles surfaces ranging from clear coats, glass, vinyl, plastic, rubber and carpets.

We take pride in offering the strongest ceramic coatings in San Diego that also offer the glossiest appearance, making your vehicles look better than their counterparts on the road.

We are on our way to being the best one stop shop for automotive styling in San Diego. We won’t stop until that is a reality.

Something were really going to be focusing on in the near future is color change vinyl wrapping. We really want to help people feel amazing about the car they drive!

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, I think the vinyl wrapping industry is going to explode. Powder coating will be a very popular option as well.

Pricing:

  • Light Details (Interior/Exterior) starts at $225
  • Full Details start at $250 for both interior or exterior
  • Window Tinting typically starts at $280 for all windows
  • Full Color Changes start at $2800
  • Ceramic Coatings generally range from $349-$1699 depending on the size and condition of the vehicle

Contact Info:

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