Car Wash Magazine – BUILDING A FOUNDATION ON TRUST

Amplify Car Wash Advisors prioritizes trust, respect and relationships

Mike Shullman was born to be a car washer. As part of the iconic Russell Speeder’s brand in the Northeastern United States and beyond, four generations of his family have been in the industry spanning the last six decades. But nothing can go on forever. And as Shullman began to consider his own legacy in a consistently evolving car wash industry, he knew he needed a partner to evaluate his options.

“Selling wasn’t an easy decision to make,” he said. “When it came time to start the process, I chose to partner with Amplify because we had already worked together on a successful smaller deal. And though still not easy, this transaction result landed just shy of perfect.” Now a part of Summit Wash Holdings, backed by New Mountain Capital, the Russell Speeder’s platform is poised for continued growth. For Amplify, it was about making sure that Shullman and the Russell Speeder’s family was well educated on all its options.

“No matter how much time you spend, this business isn’t getting any less complicated,” said Jeff Pavone, Amplify Car Wash Advisors co-founder and partner. “We’ve represented legacy chains from the likes of Russell Speeder’s, Jet Brite, Busy Bee, and other long-term operators who have been operating at a high level for decades and over generations.” Pavone said, “They entrusted us with their business to represent their best interests and placed their life’s work in our hands.”

In early 2020, Pavone, along with car wash veteran and ICA Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Martin of Metro Express Car Wash, formed Amplify Car Wash Advisors because of the changes they recognized in the industry. “We saw the shift beginning in the market, and we wanted to be sure that we were the partner you could trust in what is bound to be a complicated and emotional time,” Pavone said. Russell Speeder’s is just one example of a long line of industry stalwarts that have adapted to the changing face of the car wash industry.

As the car wash space has garnered attention from private equity groups and other institutional buyers, there’s been a steady shift from what was traditionally known as mom-and-pop ownership. While there is still room for the individual owner, new opportunities have opened, especially for well-established legacy brands. For Amplify, the biggest key to being a trusted partner as the industry has continued to evolve has been a hyper-intentional focus on developing and cultivating relationships. “The more we get to know and understand our clients, the better we can help them,” Pavone said. “We invest heavily in relationships for the long haul.”

Creating those deep relationships takes time, though, and companies grow and change over the course of that time. For Pavone, that meant he had to think differently about how Amplify assembled its team. “We had to build out an organizational structure that made it possible for us to expand and evolve alongside our clients,” he said. “We never want a client to outgrow us.” By building out that team, Amplify is positioned to stay on top of the changes in the industry and continue advocating on behalf of car wash owners. “Our goal is to make sure we’re always ahead of the market in terms of what’s changing and what’s coming, while maintaining the relationships we know are foundational to this industry,” Pavone said.

Amplify Chief Operating Officer Chris Jenks said, “We have a deep breadth of institutional knowledge from an operator perspective with industry icons like Bill [Martin] as well as Dave Hail, who joined us from a tenured career at Mister Car Wash. We have the real-life practical industry experience, but we also combine that with professionals who span the spectrum of financial services. “It’s this unique combination that allows us to really advocate on behalf of our clients,” Jenks said. “We speak the language, we know the pain points and, more importantly, we can effectively position their business to maximize value when growing or selling. This is what differentiates us from many of our peers.”

Recent team additions like Paul Sigfusson, head of capital solutions, showcase the firm’s commitment to those principles. “You have to do what you say you’re going to do,” Pavone said. “And providing clients with the best-in-class talent in and expertise in investment banking is critical.” Sigfusson joined the team from KKR & Co. where he was focused on the consumer industry within KKR’s Americas Private Equity platform. He’d also spent time focused on capital markets and has experience in corporate advisory and debt and equity transactions. For Amplify, that meant the ability to help car washers understand all their options for funding growth. “I believe in putting the client’s needs first,” Sigfussion said. “The relationship-driven culture is just one of the reasons I am excited to be part of the Amplify team.”

 

Growth changes companies in many ways. But for Pavone, it’s paramount that Amplify is a continued advocate and good steward of the car wash industry. “I have a deep respect for this industry and its people,” he said. “It’s important to have partners you can trust, and that can help you understand and make sense of market and industry changes. I don’t want anybody here to ever get less than they deserve. And that typically happens when they don’t understand all their options when it comes to selling or scaling their car wash business.”

Pavone’s core principle of helping car washers permeates the team. Now at a staff roster of about 30 full-time employees, clients have access to subject matter experts providing insights and guidance on financial and legal services, real estate, operational advisory, emerging technology solutions and more. Lanese Barnett, senior vice president of business development, said, “Amplify is focused on the people side of car washing and values building meaningful relationships that span well beyond a transaction. There’s a special, communal nature to the car wash industry, and I love being part of a team that champions its continued success.”

 

Jet Brite Car Wash

With decades of hands-on experience as operators, when it came time to sell our car wash business who we sold to was important to Sam and me. Chris [Jenks] and the team at Amplify listened to us throughout the entire process. They found the right buyer in ZIPS who would be a good steward of the brand and helped find the best path forward for us where we can continue pursuing our passion for manufacturing high-quality car wash equipment.  

Jet Brite Car Wash  
Dave Delesandro  | Founder

Quick N’ Clean

My relationship with Commercial Plus over the past 20 years has been a very professional and trustworthy relationship. The feel of trust is very important in this business, and Jeff Pavone and his staff have exhibited a level of trust that makes me continue to feel that they have my best interest front of mind. I deal with many brokers across the nation, and my best experiences and results have been achieved with Commercial Plus representation.

Quick N’ Clean
Richard Karle | Owner

Zips

It’s been a great experience working with Amplify Car Wash Advisors to bring these sites into the ZIPS portfolio. We look forward to serving Dallas area customers with an enhanced car wash experience unique to ZIPS, with the added benefit of our extensive network of stores. This year we have continued our aggressive growth track with the goal to truly shine in our efforts to be the best express car wash provider in the industry and it’s acquisitions like this that help us reach our goals.

Zips
Gene Dinkens | CEO

ModWash

It was truly a pleasure to work with the Amplify team on our most recent acquisition of three additional operating locations in our home state of Tennessee. Their team provided great support and ensured a timely and seamless closing process, and we are excited for the additional growth opportunities this relationship will produce in our near future. We know this is the first of many transactions we will successfully complete with the Amplify team as we grow from our current operating store count of 23 to well over 200 locations across 14 states in the next two years.

ModWash
Brian Thornton | COO

Busy Bee Car Wash

For years I’ve talked to a lot of brokers with the same goal; sell your car wash chain as quickly as possible. But I chose to work with Amplify because they were interested and invested in the emotional side of selling my business and truly value long-term relationships. They weren’t forcing me to take a deal just to take a deal. They listened to my concerns and goals then educated me on all my options. And that’s how I decided on the right partner for my chain specifically. I went to bed at night after I signed the papers knowing I got the best deal possible versus just having any deal put in front of me that is only about money.

Busy Bee Car Wash
Jim Mulholland | Owner

Q Car Wash

We really appreciate Jeff and his entire team at Amplify. Their expertise and deep industry knowledge helped us navigate our options and best showcase our strengths to maximize our value. Caliber is a good fit for Q Car Wash as they look to expand in North Texas.

Q Car Wash
Viran Nana | COO

Cobblestone Auto Spa

I have known both Jeff and Bill for over thirty years combined, and respect them both as experts in our professional car washing industry. Their unique and individual strengths bring very strong talent and advice to operators, sellers, and buyers with sharp knowledge, client’s best interest in mind, and an actual personal touch. They hold the expertise and performance track record to hold a very high level of respect within this rapidly-changing car wash industry.

Cobblestone Auto Spa
Tuck Bettin | CEO

Oasis Car Wash

Turning over a business you started from one shovel of dirt 25 years ago and grew to several locations is a difficult and even uncomfortable process. So, when it came time for Larry and me to sell, we chose Amplify Car Wash Advisors to guide us through the process because of their strong reputation and thought leadership in the industry. Their team was professional and did a great job walking us through each step.

Oasis Car Wash
Dallas Hawkins | Partner

Busy Bee Car Wash

Selling our business after 52 years is big deal and certainly not a decision I took lightly, turning over our family legacy was an emotional process and I appreciated that the team at Amplify respected that. They helped me understand my options and found the best deal for me.

Busy Bee Car Wash
Jim Mulholland | Owner

Ducky’s Express

I have been a multi-site developer and operator in the car wash industry for over 30 years. Four years ago, a partner’s health concern forced me to sell a portion of my portfolio, and during that process, I was introduced to Jeff Pavone of Commercial Plus. I was immediately impressed with Jeff’s knowledge of my industry and his volume of successful deal closings. In a very short period of time, Jeff found the right buyer at a very fair price, and the transaction closed shortly thereafter. I was looking for a team with honesty, integrity, and a proven track record of success, and I found all of that in Jeff.

Ducky’s Express
Richard Miller

Trademark Car Wash

These are some of the most exciting times for car wash owners. As we grew 350% in revenue in just one year, we recognized the time to partner up with a top-tier team that has mastered growth in retail and specifically the automotive industry. Amplify Car Wash Advisors had helped us acquire, raise capital, and was the perfect partner to help us reach this next chapter of the Trademark story.

Trademark Car Wash
Andrew Goldberger