Remembering Sonny Essenburg

Jun (Left) and Sonny (Right) Essenburg

In 1969 Julius “Sonny” and Jacob “Jun” Essenburg opened the very first Quality Car Wash location here in Holland, MI. It wasn’t much to look at, compared to where we are today. But the brothers committed to the opportunity, devoting time, energy, and creativity to the process of washing cars and making improvements as they went.

It was this commitment to quality that lead the car wash to flourish and develop into the successful family of companies growing in Michigan, around the nation, and across the world today.

It is with sadness that we report that Sonny departed to his Lord Saturday, June 1st, 2019, leaving behind a lasting professional legacy and a large, loving family to carry on his name.

For his brother Jun, Sonny’s instincts for business were what made working with him such a joy.

“We were able to often make something out of nothing. There were so many different ideas we had for what to do and where to go, and we would always run stuff by each other before we did anything. We had our disagreements, sure, but we never stopped being the best business partners.

He had an eye for a deal. Better than I did, and most people I knew. He was so good at sensing when someone was going to sell and ready to sell, or going to buy and ready to buy. It was like a God-given talent to read people so well.”

Mike Lemmen, today the Director of Franchise Operations and a long-time employee and partner with the Essenburg family, had this to share.

“The company arranged a fishing charter on Lake Michigan… Sonny showed up at the dock to see us off with a bag of the best ham sandwiches ever! It meant so much because Sonny always played the bad cop while Jun played the good cop, but Sonny taking the time to see us off at the dock, providing food for the team, showed a soft side and that he really cared about us.

[He used to say] If you have work for three people, put two on it. If you assign three, two will stand around and talk to each other and the third will get frustrated. Work won’t get done. Put two on it and they won’t have time to talk—they’ll be working hard to get it done.”

What advice would Sonny have for us today?

Tom Essenburg, “Work hard, save your money.”

Jun Essenburg, “Be frugal. Be Invested. Look for opportunities and never quit.”

Mike Lemmen, “Hard work and determination will help you achieve success, but once that success is achieved you need to work just as hard, never relax.”

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Tom Essenburg Inducted into Car Wash Hall of Fame

“In my 50 years, this is the most exciting time to be in this business.”

These were the words of our own Tom Essenburg as he was inducted into the car wash hall of fame at The Car Wash Show 2019 only days ago, in recognition of his long service and influential career in the car wash industry

Tom has been with our company from the very beginning, founding Tommy Car Wash Systems to pursue changes and improvements to car wash technology and laying the foundations that would become Tommy’s Express Car Wash, a family of high-performance designer car washes that produce a premium result faster and more consistently than any other system on the market.

Held in Nashville, TN this year’s convention featured car wash operators, manufacturers, and industry leaders from across the world—including a strong contingent of Tommy Car wash Systems and Tommy’s Express team members. A number of new developments were featured, including updates to the Totally Tommy design, equipment refinements, and all new products including a new performance vacuum design and the 24k Tommy RO System.

The event also included a joint presentation between Ryan Essenburg, President of Tommy Car Wash Systems, and Ed Rensi, former CEO of McDonalds, on the Fundamentals of Express Car Wash Success, franchising, and the emerging changes sweeping our industry.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Tommy Car Wash Systems Expands Facilities

To accommodate dramatically increasing production—largely a result of the success and growth of the Tommy’s Express Car Wash Franchise—Tommy Car Wash Systems recently expanded their existing facilities to include a large warehousing facility a short distance away the company’s existing assembly and office spaces.

According to Ethan Lemmen, Director of Operations for Tommy Car Wash Systems, the new warehouse will serve as a fulfillment hub and will house a large stock of finished car wash product and equipment, ready for dispatch to new car wash development locations as needed.

The expansion is a core piece of the 2020 Model Year program, a company-wide project to standardize products and streamline the car wash production process from first quote to final fulfillment. This effort promises to yield a variety of internal and external benefits and help Tommy Car Wash Systems to continue to serve the car wash industry with excellence and consistency.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Investigating Car Wash Site Demographics

Photo by Chris Hovinga

As with all retail establishments, location is one of, if not the single most critical factors to consider from the earliest stages of a car washes planning and development. And when deciding on a car wash location, a thorough demographics study is just one of the tools available to help operators make the best possible decision.

Read more

Tommy’s Express Jenison Location Tour

Ryan Essenburg, President of Tommy Car Wash Systems and the Tommy’s Express franchise, will take you on a walk-through our our newest corporate location. Tommy’s Express Jenison is a full-size Totally Tommy Express-style car wash with franchise exclusive equipment as well as several brand-new innovations and equipment examples you’ll be seeing more of soon!

Read more

5 Carwash Trends to Watch for In 2019 and Beyond

The car wash industry has entered in a period of rapid transition, with new technologies and practices making inroads and bringing change to both customer expectations and industry norms. As we look forward to the coming year and beyond we’ve come to expect the following five car wash industry trends to play an increasingly central role.

Read more

Tommy Car Wash Systems Welcomes New Chief Operating Officer

Tommy Car Wash Systems is pleased to announce that Alex Lemmen has joined the company in the capacity of Chief Operating Officer.

Lemmen brings an international perspective and growth-centric mindset to the Tommy Car Wash Systems team, having served for approximately five years with distinction as a management consultant at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG is a highly respected global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy.

Ryan Essenburg, President of Tommy Car Wash Systems, stated: “Alex brings a perspective and skill set that is essential to our sustained growth and profitability. His experience with BCG puts him in a select group of individuals with the experience needed to scale a business to a national and international level.”

While his former responsibilities focused on global consumer goods and retail sectors, primarily concentrated in Latin America and the United States, Lemmen will now be responsible for helping the company navigate the aggressive growth triggered by the successful launch of the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise.

Lemmen is a native of West Michigan and holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M Ross School of Business.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

VisionQuest Family of Companies Celebrates Growth

The Michigan-based VisionQuest Inc. family of companies celebrated another year of growth and camaraderie at the Summer 2018 corporate rally in Holland, MI. Team members from sister companies including car wash developer Tommy Car Wash Systems, the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise corporate office, beloved West Michigan car wash brand Quality Car Wash, Tommy’s Express Car Wash corporate locations, corporately-owned Tim Horton’s franchises, and professional marketing group Navigate all gathered to share the year’s accomplishments and reinvest in a shared identity of service, value, and mission.

Read more