Workin' at the car wash

Hall of famer's facility to open soon in Cd'A

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Bob Hodge, owner of Metro Express Car Wash, cuts metal to length during construction of the project at 3131 Conference Drive in Coeur d’Alene. The site is scheduled to open in April.

COEUR d'ALENE - The owner of the new Metro Express Car Wash under construction in Coeur d'Alene is a hall of famer.

Bill Martin, who has owned a dozen car washes in Idaho, Washington, Missouri and Kansas, was inducted in 2012 into the International Car Wash Association Hall of Fame for his lifetime contributions to the industry.

"I just like doing it, and even as a kid, I knew I wanted to wash cars for a living," said Martin, of Eagle.

His new Coeur d'Alene car wash has an estimated $5.5 million development cost, and is scheduled to open in April.

It will be located on 1.5 acres of property at 3131 N. Conference Drive, at U.S. 95 and Neider Avenue. It will employ eight to 10 people.

"After 40 years of evolution and improvement, we've found the perfect matrix of washing solutions, equipment, environment and technology in Metro Express," Martin said.

Prices will range from $8 to $12.

The new Metro Express wash will have the capacity to clean approximately 2,500 cars per day. At full tilt, it could clean four cars a minute.

In the car wash business, operators routinely compare tunnel length for bragging rights. The Coeur d'Alene Metro Express will be 240 feet long, Martin's longest tunnel yet.

Length isn't everything. Martin's wash will use biodegradable detergents, too. Approximately 60 percent of the water used is recycled.

Young Construction Group of Idaho, based in Hayden, is the general contractor on the project.

Martin started Metro Express in Boise in 2004. In 2006, he opened a second location in Meridian and a third in Nampa in 2010.

In May 2013, Martin sold his three Metro Express washes to Mister Car Wash, a national chain he helped found in the 1990s.

Also in the 1990s, Martin started the Nu-Look car washes in Spokane. He purchased land in Coeur d'Alene, hoping to develop a wash there, but it didn't work at the time and he sold the land.

About two years ago, he began developing his expansion plans into Coeur d'Alene, picking the site and drawing plans.

"Developing and running car washes is all I know how to do - I can't think of doing anything else," Martin said. "You get detergent in your blood and you're constantly thinking of your next wash and how it can be better than anything you've ever done before."

Josh Hatcher, who will be the assistant manager after the car wash opens, works on assembling hydraulic parts near the exit of the car wash.

 

Matt Laufenberg of Strate Line Crane and Rigging, hoists the 6,000 pound Metro Express sign in the air while Joe Laufenberg stands below to steady it with a rope on Thursday morning in Coeur d'Alene.

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