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“Changing Horses” Mid-Stream Proves a Galloping Success for Blue Crab Car Wash 

Tim Fitzpatrick - Equipment Sales Manager - Mid-Atlantic

by Tim Fitzpatrick, Territory Sales Manager/Equipment, Howco Inc. 

Abraham Lincoln is credited with modernizing the proverb, “Don’t change horses in midstream” when he declared it not optimal for the United States to change leaders or generals during the crucial time of the American Civil War.  Lincoln equated such uncertain moves as “swapping horses while crossing streams,” a potentially unwieldy predicament. 

Matt Riddleberger, however, chose to buck such conventional wisdom about staying the course and keeping the status quo when he developed Blue Crab Car Wash in the small town of Denton, MD. 

“My partner and I acquired a closed, run-down car wash site with the desire and investment to bring back this much-needed service to our community,” Riddleberger explained. 

“We started from scratch and, having no experience in the car wash business, explored different types of car washes to determine what would best fit our site, market, and budget,” he continued. “We settled on an in-bay automatic and self-serve combination; however, we weren’t financially able to complete the project all at once and had challenges with the equipment and distributor we initially chose. 

“About a year into the project, we concluded that the direction we were headed didn’t fulfill our vision,” Riddleberger lamented. “It’s a gut-wrenching feeling to have so much time and money invested in a project and then realize that things are not going the way you planned. So, we changed horses in midstream.”  

Riddleberger’s new “horse” was Howco, which had recently begun offering car wash systems from Petit Auto Wash Equipment, a brand Riddleberger was considering. The new relationship proved to be a prudent move that now has Blue Crab galloping to success. 

Howco helped evaluate the project and then re-design and reconfigure major portions of the car wash to better conform to Riddleberger’s desires and what he determined was best for his business and customers. 

Blue Crab chose the Petit Accutrac® 360-i, an ultra-fast, stainless steel, touchless in-bay system of excellent quality. Blue Crab features two in-bay systems and two self-serve bays; the in-bays include dryers, license plate readers, and pay stations. 

Since adding Petit equipment, Blue Crab has increased its wash club memberships by 38% and doubled its car count, according to Riddleberger.  

“You’re always going to encounter some glitches and stumbles in any construction project,” Riddleberger stated, “but the Howco team handles everything with poise, class, and professionalism. The response, communication, and attention that we got from the equipment, installation, and chemical teams at Howco met or exceeded our expectations. 

“The whole experience was very refreshing,” he concluded. “Howco really does become a part of your team and strives to ensure your success.” 


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