Leading women in carwashing
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Leading women in carwashing

Editor’s note: Professional Carwashing & Detailing is excited to announce a new content series in partnership with Melissa Pirkey to share the stories and experiences of leading women in the carwashing industry. We will continue featuring these inspiring stories in upcoming issues. 

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The women interviewed for this special series share their stories. The goal of this interview series is to not only share the stories and experiences of these market leaders, but also inspire more women to join this fun, exciting and growing carwash industry. 

This month let’s meet Meagan Bradley and Kristilyn Reilly.

Meagan Bradley, senior vice president of marketing at Sonny’s Enterprises

MP | How did you get your start and how long have you been in the carwash industry? 

MB | I’ve been in the industry three years and it’s been the absolute best time of my professional life. A recruiter phoned me about a position at a family-owned carwash company a couple miles from my home. It took me about .0001 of a second to say “tell me more” because I come from an entrepreneurial family, have always enjoyed going to the carwash as a customer and as a marketer, I’ve only ever marketed services or products I believed in. Thankfully, Sonny’s offered me a position. 

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MP | What is the most important lesson you have learned while working in the carwash industry?

MB | The best success is helping others succeed. 

MP | What advice do you have for women getting into the carwash industry today?  

MB | No matter what you are doing, work hard. Continue to refine your skills and learn every day. If you do this, it usually works out regardless of your gender.

MP | What are some challenges you have overcome as a woman in the carwash industry that you’d like to share with other women in hopes of helping them to overcome similar challenges? 

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MB |Knowledge. Take time to go to CarWash College, shadow an operator, ask a ton of questions, go to carwashes with people that have been in the business for years, and learn a bit about all aspects of the wash. Don’t let what you don’t know scare you.

MP | What aspect of the carwash industry is most exciting/rewarding to you?  

MB | I’m very inspired by the stories of how and why people got started in carwashing and the paths they’ve taken since opening their first wash or starting their companies. 

MP | What three character traits are most important in your opinion for a woman starting out her career in the carwash industry? 

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MB | Authenticity; humility — never be “too good” for a situation; and always be grateful — no one succeeds alone. 

MP | What would you have done differently starting out in the carwash industry if you could go back to the beginning? Or, would you not change a thing? 

MB | I wouldn’t change anything; just wish I had found Sonny’s earlier in my adult life. 

MP | Did you have a role model or a mentor in this industry? If so, who and how did he or she inspire you? 

MB | It reads cliché but I already have many role models in this industry for many different reasons. At Sonny’s, I’m truly surrounded by an army of determined people who value hard work, work as a team, respect each other and who are on a mission to help people be successful. 

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MP | Where do you see the carwash industry moving toward in the future?  

MB | I think the growing curiosity in the industry will continue to fuel growth and innovation. I think technology will continue to take off. There is no limit to what people in this industry will and can do. But, when it comes right down to it, what made this industry so great will continue — quality, convenience and true appreciation of the customer.

Kristilyn Reilly, chief human resource officer for GGG Washes, LLC, dba Champion Xpress Car Wash

MP | How did you get your start and how long have you been in the carwash industry? 

KR | I joined Champion Xpress Car Wash in July 2021. I posted my Senior HR certification (SHRM-SCP) on LinkedIn and was getting recruited by another company. I saw the position posting for Champion Xpress, researched the company and could not help but be hopeful I could join a company with such great culture and drive. 

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MP | What is the most important lesson you have learned while working in the carwash industry?  

KR | Be flexible. When an industry and company are growing so quickly, you must be ready to run and find solutions at a blazing fast pace. 

MP | What advice do you have for women getting into the carwash industry today?  

KR | I would advise to enter with an expectation of a level playing field, growth and fun. I believe that if you enter with a desire to learn and work hard, the opportunity is endless.

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MP | What are some challenges you have overcome as a woman in the carwash industry that you’d like to share with other women in hopes of helping them to overcome similar challenges? 

KR | Historically, women have office jobs and as CHRO this would be assumed for my role as well. Our COO and CEO do not view it that way. I have learned to load and prep cars and sell memberships. These lessons have accelerated my understanding of operations as well as supporting all departments and our growth.

MP | What aspect of the carwash industry is most exciting/rewarding to you?  

KR | Seeing the site grow as the people grow. When adequate training is provided, the people grow and memberships do as well. 

MP | What three character traits are most important in your opinion for a woman starting out her career in the carwash industry? 

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KR | Hard work, dedication and vision of what can be.

MP | What would you have done differently starting out in the carwash industry if you could go back to the beginning? Or, would you not change a thing? 

KR | I would not change a thing. 

MP | Did you have a role model or a mentor in this industry? If so, who and how did he or she inspire you? 

KR | Michael Murry, Chris Brown, Lindsey Joy and Jeff Wagner have all mentored me. The first two by being new to the industry just a few months prior to myself and letting me in on what it takes to learn the industry at a very fast pace. The last two, helping me adapt HR to this industry and helping me understand the history of our footprint in the industry. All four continue to provide encouragement, collaboration and push together to hit big goals.

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MP | Where do you see the carwash industry moving toward in the future?

KR | I see this industry gaining more competition and the race being more challenging, but more rewarding. More women continue to join and, from my perspective, are not met with resistance. It takes someone willing to work hard to make it to the future of carwash and there are many of us willing to do just that.  


Melissa Pirkey, Pirkey Insurance, is a frequent contributor. If you are interested in sharing your story in an upcoming issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing, please contact her at 214-998-8960 or [email protected] or email PC&D’s Rich DiPaolo at [email protected]

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