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Flagstop Car Wash Forges Ahead with Hyperlocal Growth Strategy and Cutting-Edge Facilities

By Tim Fitzpatrick, Territory Sales Manager/Equipment

In late 2016, three members of the operations team at Flagstop Car Wash banded together to purchase the company from their boss, Bob Schrum, who was ready to sell but preferred to leave the company in the hands of those who helped make it successful. Founded in 1981, Chester, VA-based Flagstop had grown to eight stores at that point. 

The new ownership group had three primary goals:  to achieve carefully calculated growth; to remain hyperlocal while expanding in the Richmond metropolitan area; and to find and engage an experienced car wash development partner who could help them achieve their goals. They found that partner in Howco in 2018. Since then, Howco has provided equipment and service for all Flagstop washes, as well as turnkey development for some locations, including store upfits, acquisition conversions, and new builds.  

Now the largest car wash chain in central Virginia, Flagstop Car Wash has doubled in size to 16 stores under the leadership of partners Jamie Nester (President), Craig Marable (Vice President of Operations), and Derek Haynes (Vice President of Maintenance & Facilities), with 4 more locations slated for the near future. 

Flagstop excels with the latest state-of-the-art equipment and chemistry, along with free-to-use premium offerings such as vacuums, mat cleaners, body and glass towels, glass cleaner, and air fresheners at its express exterior washes. The chain is focused on continued growth of its popular monthly subscription plan as part of its hyperlocal growth strategy, increasing value to its customers and making the best use of its marketing dollars. 

The most recent Flagstop store opened in Petersburg, Virginia, in Fall 2023 and features top-of-the-line equipment and technology, including: 

  • Dry N’ Shine™ top wheel friction drying system 
  • Super Duty XD conveyor with X458 chain 
  • AXIS™ high-pressure arch 
  • Cross-Over™ wrap-arounds 
  • S2S side-to-side mitter 
  • Two top brushes 
  • 300GT™ wrap-arounds exit module 
  • 130-HP Air One™ drying system 
  • Spin Shine rotary tire shine machine 
  • dispenseIT 20-function chemical delivery system 
  • wheelblastIT wheel blaster 
  • Velocity water reclaim system 
  • Central vacuum system 
  • rTC tunnel controller, which combines and integrates all wash controls 
  • Glowash LED lighting system 
  • X Station car wash pay station 
  • TSS signage for the grand entrance arch and other wash bay signs 

“We’ve had nothing but excellent experiences with Howco,” said Flagstop partner Derek Haynes. “From the sales force, with its competitive pricing, to their equipment installation and service team, everything has been exactly what we want and need. They are always very professional, responsive, and reliable. 

“These guys know the car wash business, and most have been in wash operations. That’s very important to us and beneficial to their customers, “concluded Haynes. 

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