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January 6, 2012
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Local business partners breathe new life into lube and car wash business

Every day that it doesn't rain or snow is a good day for Mike Argento and Steve Nelson.

With the unseasonably warm weather, the owners of Gold Country Express Lube & Car Wash on South Auburn Street have seen an unusually high volume of winter customers. But the weather may only be part of the reason. After purchasing the former 10-Minute Oil Change - which went into foreclosure last year - Argento and Nelson set to work completely remodeling the aging facility. By the time they opened their doors in mid-July, the property boasted a spacious, climate-controlled waiting room, a customized bay exclusively for vehicle detailing, three oil and lube service bays, four new car vacuums and five renovated self-service car wash bays - one designed for larger vehicles. In addition, the new pay machines actually take bills, not just quarters.

It didn't take long for word to spread and customers have been pouring in, Argento said.

"It sounds funny, but I think our comfortable waiting room has a lot to do with it," he said. "It's a nice clean place to relax, and my wife made sure there are women's magazines available."

Argento's wife Cindy, with the help of Nelson's wife Karen, oversee marketing.

The Nelson and Argento families have a long history together. Steve Nelson, a good friend of Argento's father, remembers hunting and fishing with Argento while he was still a teen.

For this reason, the business venture has made for an easy partnership.

Prior to purchasing the old 10-Minute Oil Change, Nelson spent more than 38 years looking down on the property from his upstairs office next door. The longtime owner of Sutherland Oil Company, Nelson sold it in 2005 but still oversees daily operations. For decades he's had a bird's eye view of the comings and goings of the car wash and lube business over the fence. As the property deteriorated and customer flow decreased, it was apparent the business was headed for a sale or foreclosure. Nelson knew it was time to act.

Argento was a logical partner for the car wash and lube business venture, as he has owned Gold Flat 76 Express Lube & Car Wash in Nevada City since 1996, along with the attached Port of Subs and Express Market.

After purchasing the South Auburn Street property, the extensive gutting and renovating began. The rest is history.

With customers pleasantly surprised by the transformation of the new business, word-of-mouth has been the best form of advertising, Argento said, in addition to their popular $12 hand wash.

"I've been watching this business from next door for decades," said Nelson. "It has great potential. The new detail shop is a big plus. Most of all, we're just happy to serve the community."

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, e-mail or call (530) 477-4203.

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The Union Updated Jan 9, 2012 03:11PM Published Jan 6, 2012 06:15PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.