The population in Harleysville, Pennsylvania is 8,795, and Harleysville Car Wash is anything but small town. With big hearts and positive momentum, owner Larry D. Landes, Operations manager Mike Bitner and Assistant manager Tony DiFelice run their car wash with confidence.
Based off of a dream, Larry was determined to get his own car wash up and running. He started in the plumbing, heating and air conditioning business as third generation with his brother, Mearl, but decided to take on a new business into his own hands.
“I just always had this feeling of wanting to build a car wash,” Larry said. “It took me five years and $100,000 before I could put a shovel in the ground but it was all worth it.”
Prior to building his establishment, Larry was unfamiliar with the car wash industry right from the start. But from the help of Ed Denacola who sold him what he needed, everything just seemed to fall into place.
“I was very fortunate to have hard working people who were willing to help this car wash from the ground up and willing to walk us through the beginning.”
With a successful opening in 1994, Mike Bitner would be deemed operations manager who once was a bank teller across the street. Just like Larry, Mike was eager to get the car wash in gear.
“Mike came to me straight forward and said, I want to run your car wash when it opens,” Larry said.” “From there on he has been a phenomenal help and has done a tremendous job keeping our car wash going.”
With no close competition around and the impressive effort of the team on board, Larry, Tony and Mike all agree that Harleysville Car Wash operates like no other. Tony DiFelice, assistant manager, says he has been with several car wash businesses starting in 1998 until now and there is no comparison to Harleysville Car wash.
“I have spent time at other washes, watched their operations, and when I came to Harleysville it was like coming to a car wash nirvana,” Tony said. “Larry is a terrific owner and Mike just knows what he is doing.”
Tony says with a business such as this you can tell when something is going well or going wrong and he says that Harleysville Car Wash, plain and simple, is ran right.
Harleysville comes well prepared, for there has never been a question on backup parts or not having enough chemicals. All things that need to be stocked are on the shelves are ready for the next breakdown and use.
“There isn’t anything that I see here that is negative and it is the best feeling working for someone who knows exactly how to run a business,” Tony said.
Weather is one of the many struggles Harleysville Car wash faces, especially on a rainy day. But whenever snow falls down and salt fills up the roads, you bet customers will be pouring in to the car wash!
“The line will go all the way out to the street when salt is spread all over the roads,” Larry said. “Most days we will get away with doing 600 cars a day in our touchless alone.”
Harleysville Car Wash flourishes off of customer service and they train a lot of younger people to help with prepping and washes. Each employee is specifically trained and is expected to maintain their high standard.
“Customers come to us for many reasons, one being our customer service,” Tony said. “Our kids know what is required of them and are well trained through every aspect of this profession.”
This business is not an easy one to start with but Harleysville Car wash takes pride in what they do and how they do it. Whether it is upkeeping with their self-serve bays, tunnels, or staying up to date with new technologies, those guys are always one step ahead of the game.
“We have updated our pumps for our touchless as well as many other upgrades to the most recent products,” Larry said. “And I know I can always count on Mike to repair whatever needs to be fixed in a timely manner. It would kill us if we had to call someone out here to help us with every breakdown or loose end that happened.”
With every car that goes by, with every soap that is used, Mike Bitner treats his customers the same way every single time in his line of work.
“The way I work is this: staying consistent will bring you constant success. What you do with one customer you have to do with all. Creating good, quality, washes and convincing customers that their car is safe with our wash. This business is all about trial and error so you must do what is necessary to stay relevant. Treat yourself as a customer until your satisfied and relay that onto the actual customer at hand. They will appreciate it more and will come back every single time.”
By Chelsea Dimmig
Kleen-Rite Staff Writer
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