By NICK DIAMANTIDES
To many Bixby Knolls business owners and residents, Sheldon and Shell Grossman’s return to the area is good news. The husband and wife team operated Bixby Knolls Car Wash for 27 years before selling it in 2004. During that time they earned a reputation for providing one of the best car washes in Southern California, and one of the friendliest businesses in Long Beach.
The Grossmans sold the car wash, located at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Wardlow Road, about four years ago, but now it belongs to them once again.
“We are glad to be back. We have always considered ourselves a community car wash,” said Shell. “We are really pro people.”
The car wash changed hands several times before Sheldon and Shell bought it back.
“We sold the car wash to a man, who sold it to somebody else. The most recent owner was not making the payments,” Sheldon said. “It took quite a while for the whole thing to go through the courts, but eventually we got it back.” He explained that in spite of the lengthy court proceedings, the car wash never closed. The Grossmans officially began operating the car wash again on December 18.
Sheldon and Shell did return to the car wash alone. “We brought back the manager that worked for us for 25 years,” Sheldon noted. “This young man, Ramon Paz, is like my son. He calls me papa and we have had a great relationship for all these years.”
The Grossmans plan to keep most of the existing crew, but all employees will undergo extensive training in the techniques that the carwash used until 2004. He added that after the training, not only will the workers be able to do a much better job, but they will also know how to communicate more effectively. “Customer relations are very important to us,” Sheldon said. “We want our customers to know that they are very important to us, and that we are always glad to see them.”
Sheldon believes that good customer relations begin with good employee-management relations. “We treat all our employees with respect and give them dignity,” Sheldon said. “That’s why people like working for us. We become like a family, and at the same time, we treat the customers the same way we would like to be treated.”
Shell agreed. “Everyone that works here treats each other with dignity and respect and we treat the customers that way too,” she said. “Part of our mission statement is that every time a customer comes in, we will exceed their expectations.”
She explained that they are bringing their many years of car washing expertise back to Bixby Knolls. ““The carwash has remained viable, but we are now in the process of improving it physically and personally. We are upgrading the entire operation here,” she said. “It’s going to take some time and we are going step by step, but really this car wash is going to be better than it ever was before.”
On that note, the Grossmans will be changing and removing some of the equipment previous owners installed, including a series of automated brushes.
“It has been a no-touch system, but we will go back to being a hand car wash, where there are no brushes that can cause problems with some of the cars. Our employees will wear soft mittens heavy with soap to hand wash the cars,” Sheldon said.
He added that the car wash used to have a water recycling system, which was removed a few years ago. “We are going to put in a very sophisticated water recycling system,” he said.
Shell noted that environmental advocates and city officials alike recommend that people use the services of a car wash rather than wash their own cars. “When people wash their cars in their driveways, the soap and solution go into the storm drains and end up in our rivers and ocean,” she said. “Here, we recycle our water and it does not go into the rivers or ocean.”
Shell said that the couple is also very proud of the car wash detail department. “Patty Noric, our detail manager, has been with us for 20 years, and she is just fabulous,” Shell said.
He added that Noric is an expert at cleaning upholstery, carpeting, floor mats, doors, dashboards and other interior components of a car. “It takes a great deal of knowledge to know what to use on different fabrics and materials,” Sheldon said. “Patty has many years of expertise in that field.”
Sheldon explained that detailing takes car washing to a much higher level. “There are different kinds of wax promotions that include the use of buffers that help preserve the finish and get the car back to its original luster,” Sheldon said. The Grossmans live in Huntington Beach, but consider Long Beach to be their city. “It’s where we get involved and give back,” Sheldon said, noting that he is a founding member of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association.
“Long Beach is a wonderful city and we are thrilled to be here,” Shell said. “We are also planning on doing some promotions that we think will really energize the Bixby Knolls area.”
Sheldon, as always, is looking ahead to the future.
“I am looking forward to the challenges before us,” Sheldon added. “I am also looking forward to seeing our old friends and customers again.”
The Bixby Knolls Car Wash is open daily from 8am to 5 pm. Their hours may change slightly as the Grossmans evaluate the business. For more information, call (562) 595-6666.
By NICK DIAMANTIDES