CEO, Car Wash World/Panaram International
My earliest family memories involve all aspects of the carwash industry. Growing up, my parents owned and operated three successful full service carwashes. My father was also a carwash consultant and started the business that I own today. I was fortunate enough to have a father that treated my brother and me as equals and made sure that as the daughter, I would still be afforded the same opportunities as my brother. I was the one who succeeded my father and took over the family business.
As part of my carwash education, my father felt it was important that I attend carwash shows, industry events and client meetings at a very early stage of my career. During high school, I worked in all aspects of the operations. I worked at the carwash — so that I could understand how the facility operated — and the office, which manufactured and distributed hot glass window cleaner, towels and washer extractors. Knowing that I wanted to continue in this industry, I felt it was important to study both communications and business administration in college. After graduating with a degree in both, I began working for our family business and have been active ever since.
Sadly, my father passed away four years ago, and I took over our company and became president and CEO. I was definitely nervous to be a woman running a company in a male-dominated industry. There have been some obstacles; however, I have been welcomed and mentored by many male colleagues. During my tenure, we have grown tremendously, and I am proud to say that our company is now WBENC-certified. I am confident that this certification will provide our company with many more opportunities.
The presence of women in the industry has definitely increased over the past 35 years that I have been in the business. Walking into a room full of men certainly can be an overwhelming event, even for the most confident, self-assured woman. Asserting my knowledge of the industry and maintaining client and vendor relationships are the most important aspects of a successful career in this industry. Any female in a male-dominated industry has to be knowledgeable and confident in order to earn the respect of her peers. Believing in what you are selling and having a great understanding of your product is important in this business. I have always found my male colleagues and customers go out of their way to help make me feel comfortable and include me, because I understand the business and maintain professionalism.
If you are female entering in the industry, know that knowledge is golden. People will respect you more if you know your product and your industry. I am proud that my story is included with these other amazing women in the industry. Now, let’s wave a towel to all the great women leaders of the carwash industry.
Elite Car Wash, Cape Girardeau, MO
Tabitha Mueller is the site manager at Elite Car Wash in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She has four beautiful children with her husband, Arron: Ava 9, Keagon 6, Amsley 4, and Kinlee 1. She and her family live on a farm outside of Cape Girardeau. They love animals, nature, and going on adventures, but most importantly, give all their praise to God. She entered into this line of work to bring much needed change to the industry. “When people think of car wash, they think of cold-shouldered individuals who may or may not even acknowledge the fact that you are there.” She married into the power washing business and now finds herself leading a top of the line car wash. “Being a clean freak has it’s perks. I feel it’s extremely important to love what you do. My goal is to develop a comfortable rapport with every customer that comes through the car wash. It’s important to listen to the customer’s preferences and feedback so we can determine what product and services to offer. At Elite we strive on having a collaborative work environment. Not only do we have teamwork and team-building, we put extra time into our employees to make sure they thrive in our environment and naturally feel a part of something bigger than themselves. We want to prepare our young adults for their futures.
I was extremely blessed and excited to be a part of empowering women in the car was industry. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to building a stronger economy and improving the quality of life for women, families, and their communities.
So my advice to women in car wash is to love what you do, trust yourself, and focus on who you are and who you want to become. Always hold yourself with grace, embrace imperfect moments, and chase your dreams. Don’t ever limit yourself, and be open to all possibilities! Amelia Earnhart said, ‘Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failures should be a challenge to others.”