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Stories from the trenches: Prime Shine Car Wash

February 25, 2014
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1. What is the full name and location of your washes?

Prime Shine Car Wash. There are 16 locations operating in the Northern Central Valley of California.

2. What is your title?

President

3. When did your first wash open?

1991

4. What type of carwash is it?

Exterior express car wash 

5. Number of employees?

140

6. When and why did you get started in the carwashing industry? 

My father started the business in early 1991 and I joined shortly after finishing college in December of 1991. Through college I thought that I wanted to be an attorney, but after spending some time at the carwash I was hooked.   

7. What do you like most about running a carwash?

The multiple types of activities that I get to do each week and the team of professionals both within the business and outside that I get to do it with.  On any given day I get to be involved in decisions relating to architecture, banking, accounting, human resource, development, legal, management, marketing, financial planning, advertising, strategic planning, maintenance, engineering, succession planning, public relations, etc. It never gets boring.

8. What advice do you have for other owners who are just starting out? 

So often we are visited by new operators who have the goal of being the biggest…I tell them first and foremost focus on being the very best operator you can be and let growth occur as a consequence of your success and not your ego.

9. What is the great obstacle you have encountered with the carwash?

Establishing ourselves as a “professional” business that just happens to wash cars and overcoming the old stereotypes of what carwashes are and how they operate. 

10. How did you overcome that obstacle?

It has taken decades of hard work and dedication by our entire team to achieve the first-class reputation that our company enjoys today. These days, cities are knocking on our door to consider their towns for a Prime Shine. I believe the single biggest factor in establishing ourselves as professionals has been how we have committed to both our employees and our communities. 

11.   Do you have a lot of competition? 

All of our markets have quality competitors.   

12.   What do you do to stand apart from the competition? 

I don’t focus on the competition or let them drive any of my decisions. I benchmark Prime Shine against some of the country’s best retailers that are not in the carwash industry such as Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, In & Out Burger, etc., and I think by doing so, this separates us from any of our competition.

13.   Do you enjoy the business? Why or why not?

I love the business and consider myself to be one of the luckiest people on the planet.

I get the opportunity on a daily basis to run this great company with my father and our team of committed executives that all strive to be the very best both professionally and personally.  We provide a high quality value product that takes only three short minutes yet brings a big slice of happiness into people’s daily lives…what could be better than that?

14.   Do you have any funny stories to share that took place at the business?

There are too many to list and I wish I would have kept a journal all these years.  However, the one that always sticks out is back in 1996 when we were having a grand opening ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce at one of our new locations and some couple chose this day and one of my vacuum stalls to make whoopee.  Thinking that this would not be the best activity on site during the ribbon cutting I approached the vehicle and kindly asked them to take their hormones somewhere else…they did, after buying our best wash…a win-win. 

15.   What are your goals with the carwash? 

My father and I intend to continue to grow the business within the Northern California region that we have been operating in for 23 years with a relentless focus on fine tuning our system towards the everlasting quest to be one the country’s finest professional car washing companies.