one brilliant history
the history of
autobell® car wash
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.
OPEC 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 exiting the car to get the interior cleaned.
Autobell® adds its first polish and wax.
The first Greensboro area location opens on Gate City Blvd.
The first Autobell® in a shopping mall opens on New Hope Road in Gastonia, NC.
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.
Autobell® opens its first western North Carolina location on Spartanburg Highway in Hendersonville, NC.
Charlie Howard passes away. Chuck Howard, his son, steps into the role of Autobell® CEO.
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.
The Autobell® Fundraising Program begins; to date, the company has helped raise over $9.5 million in support of charities, school programs, and other nonprofits.
Autobell® establishes the employee scholarship program; to date, over 1,300 team members have been awarded scholarships totaling over $1.3 million toward college education. Autobell® joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Adopt-A-Stream program and begins annual cleanup of Little Sugar Creek. Autobell® was recognized with the Blue Thumb Award by the Mecklenburg County (NC) Water Quality Coalition for work and dedication to protecting and conserving water and resources and overall quality of life.
Autobell® is named the Business Conservationist of the Year at the NC Wildlife Federation Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards for the choice and investment to conserve and treat water, as well as continued efforts in responsible water usage education. Additionally, the Water Smart Award from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities and the Guardians of the Environment Award from The Charlotte Observer were bestowed upon Autobell® and CEO Chuck Howard.
The first Tidewater Virginia location opens on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News, VA. Autobell® is acknowledged with the Outstanding Service Award by Mecklenburg County Department of Environmental Protection Adopt-A-Stream Program.
The Autobell® Summer Games begin as an annual, systemwide team member training and teambuilding event. Autobell® hires a dedicated Management Training Coordinator to further managers’ training and safety practices.
Autobell® was recognized with the Water Wise Award from the Town of Boone, NC, for their Every Drop Counts Water Conservation Program.
The first South Carolina location opens on Charlotte Highway in Indian Land, SC.
The first Atlanta area location opens on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road in Suwanee, GA. Autobell® installs its first in-ground Aqua Bio water reclaim system, enabling 100% recycling by utilizing enzymes to clean the wash water. Autobell® hires a full-time recruiter to continue its history of hiring the best employees. The year finished off with the following Autobell® accolades: Community Service Leadership Award from the International Carwash Association; the Green Award from the Charlotte Business Journal Green Award (for-profit category); Conservation Business of the Year from the Mecklenburg County (NC) Soil & Water Conservation District; and the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Charlotte Chapter.
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.
Autobell® is awarded the Water Sustainability Award by Sustain Charlotte as well as Conservation Business of the Year by the NC Hugh Hammond Bennett Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. To finish off a phenomenal year, Autobell® received the WingSwept Excellence in Business award from the Garner, NC, Chamber of Commerce.
Autobell® receives the Wells Fargo Vision and Values Award from the Garner, NC, Chamber of Commerce.
Autobell® is awarded the SmartCEO Corporate Culture Award and the Family Business Award from the Charlotte Business Journal & Wake Forest University Charlotte Center.
Autobell® owner & CEO Chuck Howard is awarded the Mecklenburg Times Icon Award for outstanding contributions to the region in both career accomplishments and community involvement.
brilliant shine, beautiful gift.
What’s better than enjoying your own clean car? Gifting Autobell clean!
when you arrive at Autobell
Our step-by-step guide on what to expect during your brilliant car wash experience.