When Geoff Garrett sees a mini-van pull up to Suds Brothers Car Wash in Grass Valley, he knows the staff has their work cut out for them.
Those stubborn little Cheerios get stuck down between the seats, and the greasy hand prints on the rear windows require a few extra swipes. But Garrett and the workers take it all in stride — a dirty car just means another chance to prove to a customer that the newest car wash in town is worth coming back to.
Garrett, along with co-owners Ken Meyers and Larry Green, opened Suds Brothers Car Wash on Aug. 1 with the goal of differentiating their new business from previous ones that have run the 30-year-old car wash on La Barr Meadows Road just off Highway 49’s McKnight Way exit.
“The whole property has been cleaned up and beautified,” said Garrett. “We’ve created a brighter, more open feeling in the tunnel. A large percentage of our customers are seniors and we want them to feel safe here. We reopened this car wash with new services to fill a need in the community.”
With the goal of making customers feel comfortable, the owners have gone out of their way to hire a “wholesome, clean-cut” staff, which includes 17 to 25 local employees, depending on the season.
“We wanted to create a family-friendly atmosphere,” added Garrett. “Most of our employees are high school or college students — we’ve got nice kids working here. We like to make customers into friends.”
Suds Brothers is superior to automated car washes found at many gas stations, said employee Kelly Christensen — who oversees daily operations — because cars are “100 percent hand-washed,” and they offer full-service detailing and hand waxes, along with express wash services.
Christensen would know. The team of car washers pay close attention to detail, she said, such as regularly hand scrubbing bugs off cars prior to sending them through the “tunnel” and checking to see what’s slipped through the cracks at the end.
“We recently cleaned a couple of cars that had just come from Burning Man, which was tough because the dust from ‘the playa’ turns to clay when it gets wet,” said Christensen. “We had to send them through twice. My favorite is washing the vintage cars on their way to the car shows.”
Garrett, a former Marine whose parents own the locally owned Video Library, said the three owners of Suds Brothers are eager to get involved in the community by helping with fundraisers and community events.
Having been in the car wash business for the past 15 years, Garrett said returning customers value their meticulous approach to cleaning and a feeling of safety and comfort while in the waiting area.
Trust is an important factor as well, he said, as over the years his employees — in addition to thousands of Cheerios — have discovered diamond rings, cell phones, Game Boys and even $22,000 in cash while cleaning cars.
“It’s pretty simple,” said Christensen. “People like being able to sit in shade, put their feet up and have someone else deal with washing their car, and we’re more than happy to do that.”
To contact staff writer Cory Fisher email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4203.
“We reopened this car wash with new services to fill a need in the community.”
— Geoff garrett,
Suds Brothers co-owner