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

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