You can find a Tommy’s Express Car Wash in over 55 cities across 30 U.S. states. And Tommy’s Express is projected to be a Top 5 Chain by the end of 2021 with over 95 car wash locations open and operating. Remarkably, the successful business we know today started in 1969 when two brothers, Jun and Sonny Essenburg, opened their first car wash location on West 17th Street in Holland, Michigan.
It Begins with Quality
The original Quality Car Wash began as a dual roll-over wash system, where the vehicle is parked in the wash bay and the car wash machine moves back and forth over the car. Jun and Sonny quickly started to find ways to improve and optimize their roll-over car wash to process more vehicles in a shorter time. This led to them building their first fully-automated location.
Through the early 1970s, Jun and Sonny would go on to open multiple Quality Car Wash locations in the Holland, Michigan area. They also purchased several existing car wash locations and renovated them for improved service and processing. In 1980, the Essenburgs opened their first 180’ Gas C-Store Car Wash. This was the first site to incorporate the Integrated Flight Deck System, which manages the entire car wash operation from a single control panel. Innovations like the Integrated Flight Deck System quickly became the hallmark of Tommy Car Wash Systems’ drive to become the most efficient car wash company in the industry.
Leading Car Wash Technology & Innovation
Tom Essenburg, Jun’s son and current Founder & Chairman of Tommy Car Wash Systems, joined the organization and continued the company’s goal of industry-leading car wash equipment design and innovation. This dedication to car wash operation improvement would become a prominent feature of the Tommy Car Wash Systems’ brand and lead to several new technologies to enhance and streamline the automated car wash process.
In 2001, Tom Essenburg launched the Tommy Car Wash Systems equipment line as a new signature series equipment package for car wash operators. The launch was highlighted in the grand opening of Tommy's Express, a full-service wash that was converted to an express car wash in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as a brand-new Quality Car Wash Gas/C-Store/Carwash model with a barrel-vaulted and transparent acrylic roof located in Muskegon, Michigan. This casts the mold for the distinguished open and airy Tommy’s Express car wash design you see today.
Closely following the launch of the Tommy Car Wash Systems equipment line, Tommy Car Wash Systems and AVW Equipment, a Tommy’s partner since the early 1990s, developed and installed the first-ever belt conveyor (now the Tommy Transporter™) at Quality Car Wash's Eastown location. The conveyor system accommodates a wider variety of vehicles, offers easy self-loading, reduces damage claims, and can process over 200 cars per hour with travel times of between two and three minutes.
The team at Tommy’s, including Tom’s son Ryan Essenburg, Tommy’s President, would continue to innovate the car wash process over the next decade, developing the 'Rain-X® Arch' dispenser kit in partnership with Ecolab, the Tommy Car Wash Systems car wash POD system, allowing car wash bay operations to be run from a single unit, saving space and improving processes. In recent years they have come out with a line of proprietary high-quality wash detergents, and a license plate reading system, replacing RFID tags making it easier for customers to take advantage of the Wash Club loyalty program.
Tommy’s Express Car Wash Franchise
In 2016, the 'Tommy's Express Car Wash' franchise was inaugurated as a sister car wash company to Quality Car Washupported by Tommy Car Wash Systems. Tommy’s Express car washes feature the Totally Tommy building design and a complete Tommy Car Wash Systems equipment package.
Tommy’s offers various site models to fit franchise partner’s needs, including the Express, Flex, Mini, and Gas C-Store designs. All Tommy’s buildings are designed to give customers a premium experience and make operations as streamlined and productive as possible. Every detail of the design was considered, including the transparent roof and circle arch design, eco-friendly and LEED-certified building options, advanced lighting controls paired with natural lighting, vehicle flow, and curb appeal.
The Future of Tommy’s
Tommy’s Express has over 50 franchise partners running successful Tommy’s Express Car Wash locations across the United States. Tommy’s Express global footprint includes sites in Canada, and Tommy Car Wash Systems’ equipment is distributed to car wash operators throughout Canada, Europe, and Australia.
We are always open to talking with potential franchise partners, and current car wash owners about where they want to build the next location, or ways we can help them improve. We can’t wait to see where the next 50 years of car wash innovation and success take us!
If you're interested in how partnering with Tommy's can benefit you, make sure you reach out so we can set up a time to discuss the how we can be the right fit for you.