Sponsored by Car Wash Advisory
When Washville Car Wash was founded in 2019, its mission was to scale a brand with affordability and customer convenience at the forefront. However, unlike many large, growing conveyor chains in the U.S., Washville is acquiring and building in the Northeast, which is typically a region of the country where express exterior carwashing has only become more common in recent years.
Now, with nine locations currently in operation and another 20 in development, the expanding company has a presence on Long Island, New York, where it all started for the brand, as well as in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island, explains James Canning, Washville Car Wash’s co-founder and co-CEO.
Washville recently expanded its footprint to Brunswick and Augusta, Maine, after acquiring Fast Eddie’s. Car Wash Advisory, a top M&A advisory firm that focuses exclusively on carwashes, seamlessly brokered the transaction by introducing the two parties and successfully found a favorable outcome for everyone involved.
According to Michael Parker, Washville’s co-founder and co-CEO, the chain’s unique, customer-centric and team member empowerment approach are driving forces for the company. “Our commitment to our customers starts by focusing on a superior product,” he asserts. “We utilize the latest in carwash technology while constantly focusing on innovation.”
Washville is making strategic acquisitions in order to achieve service area densification where members can wash at any of the chain’s locations with a monthly subscription. In addition to rebranding acquired sites, the chain also makes upgrades in equipment, processing technologies and chemicals, including ceramic and graphene offerings.
“Convenience underpins the express model, and we try to optimize our customers’ time, value and satisfaction. We focus on creating a safe, yet fast, experience,” adds Parker.
That convenience, continues Parker, is most evident in Washville’s unlimited membership platform, including ease of plan management, membership lanes and automated billing.
“From a value perspective, we not only want to provide everyday low prices, particularly for our monthly members, but also continue to improve the underlying offering and experience. Customer centricity is only made possible by our team members, and it starts with Washville’s dedication to their well-being, training and creating a positive culture. By empowering employees, we improve the customer experience,” says Parker.
Scaling in the Northeast
The team at Washville confirms that entering and expanding in the Northeast is more challenging than other parts of the U.S. in a few specific ways.
“From a new development standpoint, the zoning and permitting in the region can be fraught with challenges. Sites can take years to complete, even when approval is straightforward and the site is zoned correctly,” educates Jim Waterman, Washville’s executive vice president, operations. “Also, land is scarce, especially sizable parcels, and generally more expensive than the rest of the U.S.”
Another challenge is the lack of acquirable express exterior carwashes in the region. For decades, customers in the Northeast had many full-serve wash options to choose from. Today, this region’s tried-and-true conveyor carwash option has been the full-serve model.
“It is more common to convert legacy, often full-serve, carwashes in the Northeast to the express model. This can be challenging due to existing layouts that may be difficult to work with, such as short tunnels and challenging site flows,” adds Al Carrabis, Washville’s executive vice president, operations.
Fast Eddie’s acquisition
In 2021, Washville Car Wash acquired Fast Eddie’s Express Car Wash, based in Maine. The seller and former owner of Fast Eddie’s, Ed Goff, along with his wife, started in the industry in 2009, purchasing an existing dual in-bay automatic (IBA). After finding success with site number one, the Goffs purchased a second location — an IBA and self-serve carwash — and eventually expanded in 2015 into the express tunnel market.
“I had no idea how we would get there, but knew it was the right idea for the Augusta, Maine, market,” recounts Goff. “We were one of the first in our market to bring a stand-alone 130-foot express site and the first in our area with memberships and gated entry. It was a hit, and after a few years, we were ready to go again.”
And go again the couple did. By the end of 2019, their second tunnel was open for business. Showing no signs of slowing down, Goff began scouting the area in 2020 for open sites to build another conveyor wash. After engaging in a bidding war, losing a bid and noticing carwash saturation evolving in the area, the Goffs started to consider another option: selling.
“My wife and I were shocked to see this activity in rural Maine and didn’t know what to do. We ended up wondering if now was the time to sell, while the iron was hot,” remembers Goff. “It turned out to be the best call I have ever made.”
In mid-2022, the two Fast Eddie’s conveyor locations were rebranded to Washville, a process that included several equipment, processing and service offering upgrades.
“Fast Eddie’s, under the leadership of Ed Goff, had proven that the convenience and value of the express model resonated with customers. Washville wanted to maintain this tradition while also introducing the Washville brand to Maine. We have a number of other sites in development in Maine, and Fast Eddie’s was the perfect launch into the market,” notes Waterman.
The aforementioned phone call that Goff made was to Harry Caruso, founder of Car Wash Advisory. Car Wash Advisory helps business owners sell their single- or multi-location carwashes as well as raise capital for acquisitions, new builds or restructuring. Caruso and his team compiled a list of about 30 potential buyers for the Goffs’ consideration.
“Washville made the first fair bid,” recalls Goff. “We closed as quickly as they said they would. Today, my wife, son, silent partner and I couldn’t be happier about the decision.”
According to Parker, the acquisition process was made easy and seamless thanks to the efforts of Goff as well as Caruso and the Car Wash Advisory team.
“We had a superb experience working with Car Wash Advisory on the Fast Eddie’s acquisition. We found the process to be well-organized and thorough. That preparation allowed the transaction to move from auction to due diligence to close in a short timeframe. The process Car Wash Advisory ran gave us comfort on what a fair offer was while also building trust between the two parties,” explains Parker.
Washville Car Wash is just starting its expansion efforts in the Northeast. With a stated tagline on its website (www.washvillecarwash.com), “The most convenient express carwash experience in your neighborhood,” the brand aims to combine the neighborhood feel with a modern express carwash experience. Washville is looking forward to joining more and more neighborhoods in the region in the years ahead.
Car Wash Advisory is an M&A advisory firm that focuses exclusively on carwashes. At our core, we’re a carwash investment bank. We sell carwashes for owners. The carwash industry is brimming with more innovation than ever before. So much passion, collaboration and teamwork is being brought to the operating side of the business on a daily basis. We stand for bringing all the same — but to the transactional side of the carwash industry. For more information, please visit www.carwashadvisory.com.