What were you doing at age 11? Playing with friendship bracelets or Legos? Whatever you were up to, Steven Thompson III — one of Boise’s most impressive kids, hands-down — has you beat.
The industrious and ambitious adolescent is the youngest certified auto detailer in Idaho, a feat he achieved before turning 12 years old in February. Steven, who prefers the nickname STEVE3, speaks with the same confidence and authority as his peers do when raving about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“I like polishing and washing, mainly exteriors,” Thompson said. “Interiors are OK. But with exteriors, when a customer gets their car, they’re immediately happy. Also, I also like finding Easter eggs on some cars, like Jeeps.”
A classic American success story, the 12-year old picked himself up by his bootstraps (well, the shoelaces on his Keds, probably) and climbed the ladder at lightning speed. At the wee age of 4, STEVE3 began folding towels with his sister at his dad’s Detail Doctors shop in Boise. As it quickly developed into an obsession, Steven Thompson II introduced his son to the in and outs of car detailing — but never imagined STEVE3’s seemingly passing interest would develop into a fierce passion.
“He’s been doing more and more in the shop as he’s been getting older,” his dad weighed in. “To curb scaring off customers when he’d tell them he was a detailer, I suggested he go through the proper steps and get certified. Now he’s more certified than me.”
Or almost anyone else in Boise, regardless of age. STEVE3 earned his credential with the International Detailing Association (IDA) earlier this year at the Mobile Tech Expo in Orlando. He’s part of the New Generation of Detailers (NGDD) network; and the prestigious SONAX Detailing team.
Indeed, any car detailer would drool over the accomplishments that STEVE3 already achieved. After word quickly spread about him and his remarkable skills on social media and in the auto industry, he became a sensation among auto pros.
That led to a life-changing trip to Los Angeles and its famed Petersen Automotive Museum in April. During the trip, he detailed celebrity vehicles, like a custom 1936 Auburn Speedster owned by Metallica frontman James Hetfield, the 1952 Ferrari 212 Barchetta roadster that Enzo Ferrari gifted to Henry Ford and even Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One jet.
His résumé doesn’t end there. After NBC learned about what STEVE3 pulled off during his L.A. trip, they brought him to Rockefeller Center in New York, where he appeared on NBC Live to talk about his talents. Locally, STEVE3 detailed the ADA County SWAT vehicle and Star Mayor Trevor A. Chadwick’s vehicle.
STEVE3 gets picked detailing projects not because of the novelty age factor but because his knowledge has already eclipsed that of many auto detail pros. So how did this boy find the time to learn so much about car detailing, in addition to maintaining his schoolwork? It probably helps that STEVE3 doesn’t seem to spend all his time on his cell phone or playing video games.
“I would study in the morning before school. I watched videos on the IDA website and memorized all the definitions to [industry terminology],” he said, reflecting on how he achieved his credentials. STEVE3 revealed that, on the 130-question written test, he answered 123 of them correctly.
While Thompson II and his son are booked for many more trips through the year, they don’t want STEVE3 to miss out on his childhood or develop other interests or hobbies.
“I try to do one to three cars a month,” he said. “I don’t want to do too much, ‘cause I’m just a kid. Who knows, maybe I’ll get into NASCAR.”
Time will tell where STEVE3’s dreams lead him. Until then, he’ll continue to inspire community members, kids his age and even the heaviest hitters in the automotive industry with his storybook streak of success. And, hopefully, he’ll continue to heed his dad’s advice.
When asked what pearls of wisdom his dad has already shared, STEVE3 quickly replied: “Don’t get a big head.”