Car wash business celebrates 23 years

As owners of Elliott Auto Bath, which recently celebrated its 23rd year in business, they preach to their employees routinely the importance of a satisfied customer, and that process begins when the customer is greeted and ends when they pull away in their vehicle.

If the customer isn’t satisfied, their car is washed again. No questions asked.

“The customer is never wrong,” said Jim Drury, who also works at Wausau Paper. “You are some dependant on customers.”

His wife added: “Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Pat and her first husband, Carl Monroe, opened Elliott Auto Bath — named after its location — in 1989, and while there have been equipment upgrades and paint jobs, little has changed over the years. Anita Newkirk, a cashier, and Mike Krasnonski, the manager, have worked for the business since the beginning, and other employees have more than 10 years experience.

Krasnonski, 40, has remained at Elliott for 22 years because of Pat, whom he called “a really good boss,” and he enjoys working outside in the stressfree work environment. When the Drurys take a vacation, Krasnonski runs the business.

“It’s a fun place to work,” he said.

Pat’s husband died in 2000, and the next year, she married Jim Drury. It’s a small business, run by local people. When you call the business, one of them is likely to answer the phone or be in the office.

“We are corporate,” Jim Drury said. “She’s president and I’m vice-president.”

There are about 30-part-time employees at Elliott, and some are high school or college students. Pat Drury is proud that many of the employees have graduated from college and some have become lawyers and doctors. In fact, four of them became morticians, she said.

For the second time in 2009, Elliott Auto Bath was named one of the best car washes in America in an article by the Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine. Elliott’s uses a 110-foot computerized, touchless conveyor system to wash and wax vehicles. Customers can view every step of the process from the fully windowed lobby complete with 1960s and ’70s nostalgic prints and music. About six employees work on every vehicle as it makes its way through the wash. The business offers detailing and scratch and paint touch-ups by appointment.

The weather plays a major role in the car wash business. Typically, Elliott’s is closed between 70 to 75 days a year because of inclement weather. December and January, with all salt on the roads, usually are the busiest months of the year. But because of last summer’s drought, June and July were especially busy, the owners said.

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