Skip to main content

Happy Anniversary to Howco!  Follow Our Story of 55 Years of Helping Others Achieve Success in the Car Wash Industry 

by Howco Marketing 

Founded in 1969, Howco, Inc., has designed, built, serviced, and supplied car washes for more than five decades. As Howco celebrates its 55th year in business in 2024, we offer this brief historical timeline from how we started to what we have become, highlighting significant benchmarks along the way. We also celebrate our wonderful car wash customers and incredible team members who have made this successful journey possible.  


After working for another car wash distributor and building his own wash in Charlotte, NC, Charles “Charlie” Howard Sr. founds Howco Inc., becoming a Hanna car wash systems distributor to his and other washes in the Carolinas, most of Virginia, and contiguous parts of Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. 

It is initially a one-man company run out of a 10’x10’ equipment room at his car wash, with Charlie handling sales, installation, and maintenance for his Howco customers. 


Howco moves into an office and hires its first full-time employee, Joyce Draper, who remained with the company until her retirement in 2015. Charlie’s son Chuck graduates from college and joins the family companies full-time. 


Howco purchases a tin shed as its first warehouse and a repurposed telephone truck to serve as its service truck.  


Howco builds its first official headquarters in Charlotte as half office, half warehouse.  


With business booming, Howco quickly outgrows its offices and moves into its current 90,000-square-foot warehouse on South Boulevard in Charlotte. 


Charlie Howard passes away, and son Chuck steps into the role of CEO. At this point, Howco exclusively distributes Hanna equipment, offering only conveyorized systems. 


Adding to its equipment line of Hanna conveyorized systems, Howco becomes a distributor of Jim Coleman Company self-service and in-bay automatic wash systems. 


Current Howco Service Manager Frank Donaldson joins the company as a technician. 


Howco acquires Andretti Enterprises and its Hanna distributorship in the Mid-Atlantic, expanding its territory to Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., eastern Pennsylvania, and additional portions of Virginia. 


Howco purchases its third aircraft (Charlie Howard was a pilot, as is Chuck) and hires a full-time corporate pilot to better serve its widespread customer base. 


Howco purchases Thomas CW Equipment. 


Service Manager Frank Donaldson receives the inaugural “Star Award” from Jim Coleman Company/Hanna, recognizing outstanding service. 


Howco receives three awards from industry partners during The Car Wash Show in Las Vegas, including the Diamond Award from Coleman Hanna Car Wash Systems. These are just three of many industry awards and accolades the company has received over the years from equipment and chemical suppliers, as well as various trade associations. 


Howco serves as a founding member of N1 Buying Group. 


Howco adds additional vendors and suppliers to its equipment and chemical lineups to extend more offerings to its customers. 


Howco celebrates its 55th year in business, having served more than 1,000 car wash customers in 14 states since its inception. 

When asked about the growth, success, and longevity of Howco, owner and CEO Chuck Howard states, “It’s the people. Our employees are highly trained and very knowledgeable and experienced in every aspect of the car wash business. We’ve spent more than five decades helping operators, investors, entrepreneurs, and others plan, develop, and operate successful car wash businesses of all types. Our goal is to save our customers time and money in every phase of building and maintaining a car wash. 

“The cornerstone of Howco is our people, offering their dedication and knowledge to help others be successful in the car wash business.” 

Here’s to another 55 years! 


Share on FacebookShare on XShare on LinkedInShare on RedditShare via email

Related Resources

View Resource Center

Howco Team

Capitalize On Car Wash Trade Show Attendance and Participation with Expert Tips from Howco Veterans

Read Article

Howco Team

Meet the Team: Casey Baber, Service Technician-Southeast

Read Article

What are you waiting for?

Take the first step toward your business goals and reach out today. Our team is ready to get started when you are.

Get Started

Stay Updated

Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date on key product launches, specials, and industry news.

Footer Subscribe

© 2024 Howco Commercial Car Wash Distributor. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy|Terms & Conditions