OpenRoad ventures into car wash business, launches OpenShine

Photo credit: OpenShine

OpenRoad Automotive Group is expanding its core business with a sister company featuring car washes in a bright, open design to create an experience for its customers buying and servicing vehicles.

The B.C.-based company, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, announced the launch of OpenShine in June. Partnering with American-based Tommy’s Express Car Wash, they will start with four locations in Southern Ontario near its OpenRoad dealerships. 

The first one will open in 2025 in Brampton on land near OpenRoad’s Toyota and Honda Brampton dealerships, which it bought in 2021 to broaden the company’s footprint. Additional sites will be developed in St. Thomas, Waterloo, and London.

OpenShine Operations Manager Christian Tija told Canadian auto dealer the idea to go into the car wash business was developed through market research a few years ago. The goal is to create opportunities for its sales and service sides to complement the company’s core business.

“Looking at the car wash industry, we could see that the Canadian car wash market is really lagging behind the U.S. market,” said Tija.

As an example, he pointed to London and compared it to Grand Rapids, Michigan, near the headquarters of Tommy’s Car Wash. He said in London there may be a couple of express car washes, while in the state of Michigan there are businesses at every block. 

“We kind of saw this as a great opportunity to bring this elevated car wash experience to Canada,” said Tija. 

Photo credit: OpenShine

He said OpenRoad referred to Tommy’s Car Wash, which began in 2016. It was developed in Michigan through the family business that started out in 1969. Tommy’s Car Wash developed a tunnel-style business with arches and a bright acrylic roof to create a more retail experience than the traditional dark and enclosed ones. 

“We did our research into Tommy’s Express and thought it would be a great complementary business to the core OpenRoad Group,” said Tija. He said OpenShine would provide OpenRoad customers with an experience unlike any other.

“It’s going to sound almost like an advertising pitch, but when our members drive up, you’ve got the convenience of automatic entry with license plate readers and dual belt conveyors — so you don’t have to worry about squishing your tires in between the chain and rollers,” said Tija. 

Tommy’s Express has operations spread throughout the U.S. It has an Ontario location in Sudbury, and one in Montréal. Qué. 

The news of OpenShine’s launch was announced last month, along with OpenRoad purchasing two Ontario-based dealerships and a collision centre. 

The Toyota-town London is its sixth Toyota dealership, Lexus of London is its third Lexus dealership, and White Oaks Collision Centre is its sixth collision centre. OpenRoad represents 20 brands in its 39 full-service retail locations. In addition to B.C. and Ontario, OpenRoad also has four luxury automotive brands in Washington, D.C.

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