Meet the Duck Lady
In the 19th year of its contest, Professional Carwashing & Detailing has named its second female Most Valuable Carwasher of the Year: Trudy Carlton.
Carlton, head cashier for Car Pool LLC’s Mechanicsville, VA, location, was a last minute entry but a first-rate competitor in the annual contest. With nearly 30 years of carwashing experience — and 23 of those at Car Pool — Carlton’s nominator, managing partner of Car Pool Detail Gina Budhai, highlighted her positive attitude and attention to detail.
“The carwash employees call her ‘Mom,’” Budhai wrote. “And she is like a Mom remembering to bring a cake for each employee’s birthday and making her store the most welcome place to be.”
In addition to her cashier duties, Carlton also trains new cashiers at Car Pool’s other sites and represents the company at promotional events.
Car Pool, LLC, has seven locations in and around the Richmond, VA, area, and Carlton is well-known to customers throughout. She started at the carwash in 1980, before it was known as Car Pool and when a carwash cost only a $2.90. “The store kept getting sold and I just kept getting sold along with it,” Carlton recalled.
Although she has been offered plenty of opportunities to move away from the cashier’s desk and into the corporate offices, Carlton has remained dedicated to the carwash customers she enjoys talking with each and every day, among whom are adults who she first met as children.
“I’m a people person, I really like the public and working with the people,” Carlton explained. “And this is a fun thing. It’s usually a good experience — it’s not like they’re going to the doctor or having to buy groceries.”
A ducky attitude
Years ago, Car Pool’s former owner created a mascot for the chain. The bright yellow duck surrounded by foaming bubbles was an instant classic and today’s customers immediately recognize and associate the logo with Car Pool.
Carlton has taken on the unofficial position of organizing the chain’s growing collection of duck memorabilia. “I’ve got ducks from New York, from Mardi Gras. A millennium duck, a St. Patty’s Day duck, a Halloween duck, a Valentine ’s Day duck. There’s a duck of every kind,” Carlton said with a chuckle. “Customers bring them to me. One lady even brought me some duck earrings to wear.”
Not going anywhere
So is Carlton thinking about throwing in the carwash towel after almost 30 years of watching cars roll through the tunnel? “Oh no! I’m not ready to retire anytime soon,” she told PC&D.
“I enjoy seeing a car cleaned,” Carlton explained. “I see cars come in that are extremely dirty and we’ve got customers that come in like a 57 Chevrolet or a 2009 Hummer, and each vehicle is so special to that person, and so its so special to us to see it made clean.”