The Riverside Auto Spa was in disrepair, and it was unreliable — before the new owners took over last year, that is. Jill and Kevin Marshek and Renee and Dan Houser bought the business in …
The Riverside Auto Spa was in disrepair, and it was unreliable — before the new owners took over last year, that is. Jill and Kevin Marshek and Renee and Dan Houser bought the business in November 2020 and have spent the past year getting everything into tip-top shape.
“We’re both local families and we wanted to keep the business local, so we decided to operate this as a joint venture,” Jill said. “Before we made a big announcement, there was quite a bit of work that we wanted to do to improve the property because there was a lot of broken equipment and a lot of things that needed to be replaced. It hadn’t been maintained for a long time. It’s taken us until about now to get it to where we’re proud of what we have.”
The list of improvements the Housers and Marsheks have made is long: new driers in the automatic bay, new water softener, rebuilt pumps, new vacuums, improved outdoor lighting and better soaps and waxes, among other things.
The previous owner of the Riverside Auto Spa owned the business for 15 years and lived in Iowa City. But now the owners are local — they all live within about five minutes of the business and drive by several times a day. Both families also have adult children who help keep an eye on the carwash and make sure everything is running smoothly.
The partnership between the Housers and Marsheks is strong because everyone has different skills or knowledge to contribute to the business.
“We each bring something different to the table,” Jill said. “Some of us have plumbing skills or contacts or business knowledge, so we all are good partners. We all contribute and do our part to make the partnership work.”
Kevin and Dan put in a large amount of research before choosing what chemicals, soaps and services to offer.
“We spent a lot of Sundays driving around Eastern Iowa and looking at different car washes and what they have to offer,” Kevin said. “And we thought about what we can do even better than those. We took the best of everybody and tried to put it into this one here.”
The Riverside Auto Spa features one touchless automatic bay and three self-service manual bays. The soaps and chemicals used are better for the environment on top of providing a better clean.
“You’ll see a lot of other carwashes around that don’t use soft water, that don’t use the right chemicals or have an imbalance of chemicals, they’ll have streaking on their cars, or hazy cars,” Dan said. “But you can take a dark colored vehicle through our wash and you won’t have streaking of hazing. Kevin and I have really worked hard to get that to that point, and we take a lot of pride in it. If someone says, ‘Hey, I didn’t get a very good wash,’ we look at why that happened — and that’s just one car. We want to do everything we can.”
The Riverside Auto Spa will hold a one-year anniversary celebration on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to noon, where they will offer deals on washes, giveaways, food and drink and games. They will also promote value cards, where if you buy a certain number of car washes, you get 10% or 15% off.
Things have been going well for the past year, Jill said, and the two families are happy that the Riverside Auto Spa is now owned and operated locally.
“One thing I love is that we know a lot of the customers who come here,” Jill said. “We often hear, “that’s my favorite wash!’ or ‘I go there every week!’ And we’re increasing business right now because people are realizing that everything works and it’s a lot more reliable.”