Charles “Charlie” Howard establishes Autobell® Car Wash Inc. and opens Autobell® Car Wash location #1 on South Boulevard. In Charlotte, NC, Charlie’s son Chuck, a Wingate College student, joins Autobell® to do service work. Gas pumps are added to location #1.
The cost for a car wash was $1.50; you could add hot wax for $.50.
Arab oil embargo produces long gas lines and the advent of convenience stores that sold gas. Autobell® establishes “Flex Serve” at all four Autobell® locations. Flex Serve gives customers optional service levels, including staying in their car and driving away after an exterior wash.
Autobell® washes its one millionth vehicle.
Autobell® adds its first polish and wax.
The first Greensboro area location opens on High Point Road.
Autobell® becomes involved for the first time in the Charlotte Carrousel Parade. The Carrousel Parade is now known as the Charlotte Thanksgiving Parade, and Autobell still participates today. The first Autobell® in a shopping mall opens on New Hope Road in Gastonia, NC.
Charlie Howard’s grandson Carl joins the company and begins working part-time at various locations.
The Hanna Shammy Wash Process is introduced, as seen in this photo of the Autobell location on Sugar Creek at Eastway Dr. The Autobell location on Charlottetowne Avenue (Independence Boulevard at the time) in Charlotte, NC, becomes the first to be completely computerized.
Autobell® location #1 moves 100 yards to a new piece of property on South Boulevard.
Charlie’s granddaughter Leigh Howard Meyer joins Autobell® as a part-time Crew Member. Autobell®’s first western North Carolina location opens on Spartanburg Highway in Hendersonville, NC.
Charlie Howard passes away. Chuck Howard steps into the role of Autobell® CEO.
Autobell® washes its 10 millionth car.
Location #19 opens on West Plaza Drive in Mooresville, NC. This location serves as the new prototype for the Autobell® store design, incorporating the bell as an architectural feature.
The first Raleigh area location opens on East Millbrook.
Charlie’s granddaughter Kelly Howard Crenshaw joins the company part-time. The Autobell® Charity Car Wash Program begins; to date, the company has helped raise over $7 million in support of charities, school programs, and other nonprofits.
Autobell® establishes the employee scholarship program; to date, hundreds of employees have been awarded scholarships totaling over $1 million toward college education. Autobell® joins the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Adopt-A-Stream program and begins annual clean-up of Little Sugar Creek.
Autobell® washes its 20 millionth car.
The first Tidewater Virginia location opens on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News, VA.
Autobell® marks 35 years of service with a huge celebration!
Autobell® hires a dedicated Management Training Coordinator to further managers’ training and safety practices. The Autobell® Summer Games begin as an annual, systemwide employee teambuilding event.
The first South Carolina location opens on Charlotte Highway in Indian Land, SC. Autobell® washes its 30 millionth car.
Autobell® hires a full-time recruiter to continue its history of hiring the best employees. The first Atlanta area location opens on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road in Suwanee, GA. Autobell® installs its first inground Aqua Bio water reclaim system, enabling 100% recycling by utilizing enzymes to clean the wash water.
Autobell® washes its 40 millionth car.
Autobell® installs a green, or “living,” roof at its new SouthPark store in Charlotte to capture storm water and slow runoff, preventing flooding in hard-surface areas, as well as assist in building temperature control.
Autobell® installs its first above-ground tank biological water reclaim system to enable 100% wash water recycling at existing locations.