FAIRFIELD — Local firm 7 Flags Car Wash has roots extending back almost half a century, but the business is keeping up with the times.
It has car washes at various locations in Solano County. Its latest is an express car wash that opened in Vacaville last year with such touches as an automatic cashier and a touch-service screen to buy a car wash.
The Fairfield car wash is older – it opened as a self-service business in 1966 and built the conveyor wash tunnel in 1988 – but is hardly old-fashioned. The curtains in the wash tunnel that help clean vehicles are made from microfiber materials. The brushes are made from a type of foam that doesn’t hold water and dirt.
“We’re always cutting edge, trying new things to try to stay on top of the industry,” owner Jack Anthony III said.
It’s not a far stretch to say 7 Flags is something of a car wash empire in the county. It operates full-service car washes in Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo and the express wash in Vacaville. It operates self-service car washes in Fairfield, Vacaville, Benicia, Vallejo and Martinez. The Fairfield car wash has an express lube service.
Jack Anthony Jr. and his wife Margaret started 7 Flags Car Wash in Vallejo. They ran a market and, in 1964, decided to build a self-service car wash, also in Vallejo. They never looked back.
Their son, Jack Anthony III, worked at the Vallejo self-service wash in his teens, doing such things as cleaning sumps and repairing pumps. In the mid-1970s, he graduated from college. His father, who needed time for Lions Club International duties, asked him to help out with the business for a year.
“I enjoyed the business,” Jack Anthony III said. “I enjoyed the industry. From there, we just kept going.”
He added full-service car washes to the mix and the company grew. Now his son Jason is working for 7 Flags, a third generation getting involved in the family business.
People can always choose to wash their cars in their driveways. But Jack Anthony III gave several reasons why a car wash such as 7 Flags is preferable.
Water from a residential driveway washes into the storm drain, along with grease, oil and dirt, and out to creeks and Suisun Marsh, he said. Some communities in other states don’t allow car washing on the driveway unless the water gets diverted from the storm drain because of federal clean water laws. At 7 Flags, no untreated water ends up in storm drains.
Also, Jack Anthony III said, unless people know the right products to use, they can damage the finish on their car.
Jack Anthony III gave several reasons the business has survived for so long. Among them is hiring employees who like people.
“We hire the smile,” he said. “It’s all about finding people who like people and give great customer service.”
Then there’s the efforts 7 Flags makes to improve.
“A lot of it is putting money back into your business,” Jack Anthony III said. “You have to reinvest in your business to keep up to speed.”
Keli Bilafer had her car washed at the 7 Flags Car Wash in Fairfield on a recent day.
“They do a great job,” she said. “They’re a good presence in the community.”
Bilafer works for nonprofit group The Leaven that runs after-school youth programs. The 7 Flags Car Wash crew supports the group’s efforts, she said.
Jack Anthony III said 7 Flags Car Wash is proud to have served Solano County for a half-century.
“We want to really thank the people of Solano County for supporting us that many years,” he said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.