Putting water to work

MARSHALL – Lockwood Motors recently expanded its auto business, offering a variety of car wash and detail packages to the public at its new facility – The Shine Center – on Sunrise Lane.

Owner Chet Lockwood began looking into the process of designing the best possible facility about three years ago.

“That’s when I started looking into it,” he said. “I wanted to get a great cleaning product because we have a really great detailing crew who take a lot of pride in what they do. So I thought we could offer the fastest and best product around.”

After construction in June, a soft opening in the middle of October, The Shine Center opened for business on Nov. 1.

“It’s going great,” Lockwood said. “We’ve gotten really good feedback so far. Customers are saying they like getting a nice, clean, dry product.”

The building itself was specifically designed to recycle rain water and used oil.

“It’s angled at such a way that the rain water can be collected in a storage tank and used in a high pressure rinse,” Lockwood said. “We tried to go as green as possible.”

New technology also allows oil to be burned to heat the shop and the car wash, including the floors.

“It’s not new technology, but it’s new to the car wash industry,” Lockwood said. “They finally perfected it so the oil burns clean, without a lot of pollutants.”

Everything has been simplified for the customer, from the touch-screen capabilities to the safety feature of the conveyor, so people don’t ever have to get out of their vehicle or worry about getting dents or scratches.

“We wanted to make it easy for the customers,” said Sue Moua, who manages The Shine Center. “We’re there to assist people, whether it’s elderly people or someone who wants us to drive it through for them.

“It’s also set up so that if someone is stuck at the door afterwards, the whole system will shut off so no one will collide. Chet was way ahead of the game on safety. For a manager, that saves me a lot of headaches. It’s really nice.”

Three different car wash packages range from basic shine ($8), which includes a light touch wash, spot free rinse and flash dry, to ultimate shine ($12), which includes light tough wash, underbody rinse, hot wax and shine, shield protectant, clear coat sealer, tire shine, spot free rinse and flash dry. There are also unlimited wash options.

“After paying, a customer pulls onto the conveyor,” Lockwood said. “There’s an attendant there who will spray each car down before it goes through the car wash. We call it prepping the vehicle.”

During the prep time, attendants pressure-wash the vehicle with warm water.

“It’s just hot enough to melt snow and ice,” Sue Moua said. “There’s also soap in there to help knock off the layers of bugs and dirt. It usually takes less than 90 seconds to prep the vehicle. We want to provide good quality, but be quick, too.”

The way it is set up now, the facility can wash up to 80 cars per hour. For Lockwood, that was a plus.

“I hate waiting in line,” he said. “People shouldn’t have to wait in line with this. We have a 90-foot conveyor and can fit multiple cars on it. Three or four vehicles can be washed at one time. It takes about two minutes to wash one vehicle.”

The key is keeping people satisfied and coming back, Moua said. While it’s good for business, it’s also good for the customer’s vehicle.

“When they get our wax and sealant, ice and other debris fall off just like butter,” he said. “You can tell who has been through our car wash and who hasn’t.”

Along with the prep, the car wash is set up to effectively clean vehicles with various sprayers, degreasers, brushes, spinners, rinsers and blowers.

“The big spinner looks like something from Dr. Seuss,” detail crewman Jeremy Moua said. “One goes back and forth and another one goes side to side. It makes washing fast.”

If a vehicle is excessively dirty or if a customer wants extra detailing done, that can be arranged as well. Along with the car wash, the facility includes five stalls, where crewmen can spend more attention to detailing work.

“We do a lot of detailing,” Jeremy Moua said. “We make vehicles look new.”

During hunting season, a lot of muddy trucks came in to the car wash, Moua said.

“We’ve had quite a lot of people coming in,” he said. “It’s nice to have this business.”

Express detail for a car is $29.95 and includes an ultimate shine wash, quick vacuum, inside window wash and quick inside dusting.

Express truck detail is $35.95. Customers should expect a 35-minute wait. The Shiner Detail for cars is $179.95 ($199.95 for trucks) and includes an ultimate shine wash, detail vacuum, interior and upholstery cleaning, interior shampoo, inside window wash, clean floor mats, engine and door jams, rims cleaned, which takes a day. Both packages include a free basic shine follow-up wash.

“We have express detail to full detail, like shampooing, buffing, waxing and scratch detail,” Lockwood said. “We also have thing like Paint sealants, tar and sap removal, pet hair removal, odor elimination and break-light repair.”

Despite the below freezing temperatures outside recently, the system hasn’t shut down, Lockwood said, nor does he expect it to.

“It doesn’t shut down at a certain temperature,” he said. “At least it hasn’t quit yet and it’s been awful cold.”

In the future, The Shine Center will most likely work with organizations on fundraising events.

“We’ll help with fundraising groups like the Boys Scouts,” Sue Moua said. “We’ll be doing a lot of that stuff.”

At any given time, Lockwood Motors has 250 or more cars that need attention. Detail crewmen are now able to work on those vehicles between customers.

“If we’re not working on lot vehicles or trade-ins, then we’re working on cars for customers,” Sue Moua said. “We’re here to help.”

Lockwood said he appreciates having hard-working employees.

“We’re pretty fortunate,” he said. “And I believe that if we take care of them, they’ll take care of our customers.”

Current hours of business are: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday.