Tennessee-based real estate, development and investment firm Hutton was looking to expand its business into a new arena. When the company was investigating potential development projects for multiple car wash companies, it noticed one commonality — the industry wasn’t familiar with new development. Having previously built a name through hundreds of projects, the team at Hutton felt strongly they could figure out car wash operations and give the industry the new approach it needed.
Enter ModWash. The subscription-based car wash company opened in June 2020 amid much uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We realized that a lot of players in the industry were more interested in acquiring existing stores vs. building their own and we thought, there’s a problem we can solve,” said Aaron Breeden, ModWash Chief Financial Officer. Opening more than 75 locations in the company’s first two years alone, Breeden shared that he is always on the lookout for lending relationships in the regions where the company wanted growth.
“WSFS fit the mold of lenders that Hutton and ModWash really need,” said Breeden. “We appreciate when lenders and banks get to know us and our business. We want to see the energy and effort that we put into our deals put back into our business.”
Location, Location, Location
With their headquarters based in Tennessee, the location of a potential banking partner played a crucial role in ModWash’s growth strategy. As the company expands into the southern N.J. and eastern Pa. market with multiple locations, WSFS brought expertise and local know-how to the table. “When we pick a corner, we want our lender to know that corner better than anyone,” Breeden said. “If our bank knows the dynamics of the area and its customers, then we’ll know it too.”
“As a banker, I understand the challenges that high-growth companies like ModWash face when entering new markets,” said WSFS Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager Graham Palusky. “It takes a unique blend of local expertise and financial resources to scale successfully, and WSFS Bank is ideally positioned to provide both. We’re proud to be part of the ModWash story and look forward to further supporting their expansion in the Pa., Del., and N.J. region.”
If the Bank Fits
ModWash didn’t want to be ‘just a number’ at a large-scale bank. Breeden was looking for a partner that was not only the right fit for the current deal, but had the ability to grow with the company as it expands in size and scale. ModWash will be opening 30 more locations by the end of 2023 (including locations in Gloucester Township, N.J. and Dover, Del.). When considering a new banking relationship, ModWash looked for a partner that was right for this deal and would be the right fit for future business decisions and product platforms.
ModWash and Hutton are both helmed by Karen Hutton as the sole owner of both businesses, making each one of the largest female-owned businesses in their respective industries. “We don’t raise money from other stakeholders, it is all Karen’s equity in the company,” added Breeden. “We look for partners that get the unique nature of our company.”
Giving back to the community is paramount to Hutton and ModWash, and they were looking for a partner with similar values. “We always look for local charities and schools that we can support through philanthropic efforts,” said Breeden. “As we grow into new states, it is especially important that our partners have tangible connections to the community and can challenge us to think local and make a meaningful impact.”
When looking to identify a new banking partner, there were many considerations that went into Breeden’s decision, including the bank’s size, assets, locations, and values. What’s next for the trailblazing car wash connoisseurs? More locations and more customer service. “We put our customers first in a way that others don’t, and we want to focus on the markets we are in to bring even more value.” Breeden added that Hutton’s credo is “whatever we are doing, make sure we are having fun and making an impact,” and that is exactly what this team intends to continue doing.
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