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Young industry veteran passes away

RICHMOND, Va. — Shawn Roberts, a carwasher and equipment installer, died of a heart attack.


RICHMOND, Va. — Shawn Roberts, 42, recently passed away of a heart attack while on a work assignment in Florida, according to Max Koehler of Wash Your Way RVA, a friend of Roberts.

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Roberts grew up in Portland, Oregon, not far from the Hanna manufacturing plant, where he went to work at a young age, Koehler stated.

Because of his mechanical talent, Roberts soon graduated from manufacturing to installations and began building washes throughout the Pacific Northwest, Koehler added.

“Years later, Chuck Howard [of Autobell Car Wash] offered him a job at Howco to perform installations after watching Shawn single-handedly erect a tunnel model ‘faster than I’ve ever seen’ while at one of the annual ICA conventions,” Koehler recalled. “With Howco, Shawn did installs and retrofits throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, which is when I had the great pleasure to meet him. We quickly became fast friends.”

Roberts later returned to Portland, where he represented Motor City Wash Works and manufactured rain arches and other components out of his home to sell to distributors, Koehler noted.

Eventually looking for a change from carwashing, he later became a certified electrician and began working in commercial construction, but he soon returned to the industry and purchased a couple of self-serve/in-bay automatic sites of his own to retrofit, Koehler added.

While in Portland, Roberts’ father fell ill, Koehler stated, and Roberts took time off to care for him until he passed.

Afterwards, Roberts moved to Phoenix to work for a distributor, for whom he was on assignment at the time of his death, according to Koehler.


“Shawn brought so much experience, it was unreal; he’d probably forgotten more about carwashes than most of us will ever know,” Koehler reflected. “Shawn was one of those people in the industry whose driving purpose and pleasure was nothing more than seeing dirty cars go into the carwash and come out clean on the other side.”

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