Vets in Carwashing

Vets in Carwashing

We are proud to honor these veterans in this new special section.

In this special section of Professional Carwashing & Detailing, we recognize and honor U.S. military veterans working in the professional carwashing industry who are driving results. Our Vets in Carwashing program was created to highlight today’s top carwash professionals leading the charge from the boardroom to the site level.

This section showcases the many accomplishments of these hard-working professionals. We are proud to honor these veterans who make a difference through innovation and business acumen and serve as role models in the carwashing industry.

BRIAN KRUSZ
Company: Sgt. Clean Car Wash
Title: Co-founder, director of growth and development
Military branch: Marines

Brian Krusz has made a tremendous impact with all Sgt. Clean Car Wash locations by focusing on his team and the communities served. He leads the carwashes with friendly service and staff that are present and knowledgeable. Additionally, Krusz is actively involved in the communities he serves through Rotary, local schools and nonprofits. Always leading by example, he gets his teams involved in the local communities where they work so the business truly becomes a community asset.

“Brian and his team have hired numerous veterans over the years, and he mentors them. Some of his younger employees have chosen to join the military due to his mentorship and example. He was also a past board member of 23rd Veteran (www.23rdveteran.org), which helps veterans live happier, healthier lives if experiencing trauma, and he still supports the organization,” notes one of Krusz’s nominators, Matthew Frank of Fortney & Weygandt Inc.

“Brian is a selfless leader who is constantly giving back to each community their carwashes are in. As a military veteran, Brian is always looking for ways to take care of the community he lives in and the communities his carwashes are in,” adds another nominator, Keith Keltner of Gerspacher Real Estate Company.

ROBERT CHAVIS
Company: Native Veteran Enterprises, LLC
Title: CEO
Military branch: Navy

Robert Chavis not only served our country, but he also serves the local community on a weekly basis handing out food from a local restaurant to homeless or street people in Pembroke, North Carolina. He makes sure no food items are just trashed, according to nominator Derena Kay Chavis, president of Kay’s Café.

“Robert has made many veterans and others aware of the carwash and detailing business. He also shows others how to subscribe to carwash magazines. He has provided hands-on advice on financing from the SBA and possible startup assistance,” says Derena Kay Chavis.

HERBERT MCCLARY
Company: Flagship Carwash
Title: Senior Director of Corporate Development
Military branch: Army

Herbert McClary is an exceptionally hard worker. His efforts showcase the value of recognizing and utilizing the unique skills that veterans bring to the workforce. By acknowledging McClary’s work, we can shine a light on the positive impact of his endeavors and inspire others to follow his example in creating meaningful opportunities for veterans, according to McClary’s nominator, Christian Mundy, Manager M&A for Spotless Brands.

McClary is launching a non-profit dedicated to combating the stigma and raise awareness of mental health issues in communities of color.

“Herbert should be recognized for his outstanding contributions due to his remarkable dedication to supporting and empowering communities. His initiatives go beyond mere acknowledgment; they are a testament to his passion for making a difference in the lives of others. By providing training, employment opportunities and a supportive community, Herbert has not only helped veterans transition to civilian life, but has also demonstrated the potential for businesses to play a meaningful role in veterans’ reintegration,” explains Mundy.

VICTOR ODERMAT
Company: Brown Bear Car Wash
Title: President 
Military branch: Marines

Victor Odermat is a former U.S. Marines Corps (USMC) officer who started Car Wash Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Brown Bear Car Wash in 1957. Since that time, it has grown into the largest carwash network in Washington state. Odermat is an industry pioneer, a member of the ICA Hall of Fame and was amongst the first to adopt the express exterior format in the late 1960s.

At 93, Odermat remains actively engaged at Brown Bear, notes his nominator Steve Palmer, chief financial officer at Brown Bear Car Wash.

“Victor is proud of his USMC heritage and is honored to have many military veterans working at Brown Bear Car Wash, some with careers at the company that now span five decades,” adds Palmer. “He recognizes the unique leadership skills and discipline the military fosters amongst those who serve and has created a company culture that places a premium on those traits.”

CHRIS RALEY
Company: Sonny’s CarWash Services
Title: Service technician
Military branch: Army

Chris Raley first enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 19. Upon completion of basic training, Army Infantryman Training and Airborne Jump School, Raley was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. While with the 82nd, he deployed to Iraq in 2003 for the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his combat tour, he was wounded from enemy attacks and is a Purple Heart recipient. Raley continues to serve as a member of the Florida Army National Guard.

Raley has been working in the carwash industry for the past five years, first getting involved as an operator/management of express washes. It was through his experiences and ability to learn on the equipment operations, maintenance and repair that he pursued a career change to service technician with Sonny’s CarWash Services of Florida. As a service technician, Raley has shown versatility in not just the service of equipment, but also in the installation of carwash tunnel equipment in various layouts.

NICK SMITH
Company: Sonny’s CarWash Services
Title: Install technician
Military branch: Air Force

Nick Smith works very hard at his job every day and dedicates a lot of his time to the company. He also has a strong passion for his country and gets the chills when he hears the national anthem play before an event, according to his nominator.

“Nick loves his country and proudly served it for six years honorably,” explained the nominator. “He exemplifies the core values of the Air Force in his work every day, including integrity, first, service before self and excellence. Those core values show, teach and mentor others to strive for the same.”

Smith also tries to actively recruit veterans who are looking for a new experience.

TISHA WATROBA
Company: Country Car Wash and Detail Center
Title: Owner and operator
Military branch: Coast Guard

Tisha Watroba has been washing cars since November 2007 with her father and brother. They’re “changing the world, one carwash at a time.” 

A first-generation American, Watroba had the time of her life while serving in the Coast Guard. “I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she says.

Nowadays, Watroba “bleeds carwash soap” and explains that “salt is for pretzels, not for cars.”

“For over 20 years, lots of kids have come through the wash. My family has mentored, taught, loved and respected everyone who has worked with us over the years,” explains Watroba. “I’ve been responsible for many kids going into the military and could not be prouder of them.”

CHAD WEDEL
Company: IQ Carwash
Title: Operating manager
Military branch: Navy

Chad Wedel gave 22 years of dedicated service. The skills acquired through his years of service and leadership have built trust throughout his organization and community, and he has helped to establish a high standard.

Despite having no carwash or construction experience, Wedel performed as the general contractor and project manager throughout the construction of the company’s inaugural location and initial steps into the industry. He concurrently educated himself on the intricacies of the carwash industry and worked through operational issues to ensure a smooth transition, from construction to operations.

“He has undoubtedly been vital to our success,” adds his nominator Jason Hoover, president of CW Mac, LLC. “And, he is continually looking for former service members to complement his team. He hires and continues to develop and mentor employees to recognize their own greatness.”

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