Charlotte-based car wash chain opening trio of new locations in Richmond

whistle car wash 1 scaled

Whistle Express Car Wash offers automated drive-thru service, as well as self-service interior cleaning equipment. (Photos courtesy Whistle Express Car Wash)

A growing chain of car washes is looking to clean up in the Richmond region.

Charlotte-based Whistle Express Car Wash is planning to open three local outposts in Chesterfield, Hanover and Powhatan counties.

Its first to open will be the Powhatan location at 1880 Stavemill Crossing Lane, with a soft opening Monday.

Another at 7419 Pole Green Road in Hanover is expected to have its own soft opening later next week. The third, at 10300 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield, is scheduled to open in late November.

Each of the upcoming Richmond-area locations are new-construction facilities offering drive-thru automated car washes and self-service vacuum stations and floor-mat cleaning machines. Each location features a wash tunnel between 80 and 120 feet long.

An LLC tied to the North Carolina-based company acquired the Midlothian Turnpike site, a less-than-an-acre property, for $1.4 million in November 2021, according to county property records.

Other entities affiliated with Whistle closed on acquisitions of the Hanover location in July 2022 and the Powhatan spot in December 2021. The 1.4-acre Hanover property was purchased for $1.5 million, and the 2-acre Powhatan site acquired for $1.1 million, according to online land records.

Whistle’s plan is to eventually sell the properties as a revenue-generating strategy and lease back those sites, said Jose Costa, CEO of Whistle’s parent company, Magnolia Wash Holdings.

Costa declined to share Whistle’s specific investment in each location, but said that the industry standard for express washes such as Whistle’s is $5 million to $7 million per location, which includes land acquisition, construction, equipment and other expenses.

Whistle offers a monthly membership program, which runs between about $33 to about $50 a month at the local outposts. A one-off wash ranges in price from about $11 to about $30 locally, according to the company’s website.

The company said in a news release that it anticipates that the Powhatan outpost will be its 100th location. The Powhatan location’s grand opening, which will feature free washes and giveaways, is scheduled for Nov. 3. The other two locations also are planned to have grand openings in November and December.

whistle car wash 2

A Whistle Express Car Wash location in Charleston, South Carolina.

Whistle says it is the 11th-largest car wash chain in the United States. It has locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Ohio. The company expects to have more than 130 locations open by the end of the year.

Whistle’s parent company, Magnolia, is rebranding itself and several other car wash brands it owns, none of which has a presence in the Richmond region, to the Whistle brand in a process expected to wrap up in early December.

In July, Magnolia announced that global investment manager Oaktree Capital Management acquired a majority stake in the company, providing a capital infusion to fuel the firm’s growth.

A&M Capital Opportunities Fund, which is affiliated with private equity firm Alvarez & Marsal Capital, has a minority ownership stake in Magnolia.

Whistle is the latest private equity-backed car wash chain to plot a multi-location expansion plan in the Richmond market. Home-grown Flagstop Car Wash has been on a building spree in recent years, as have out-of-town competitors such as Tommy’s Express.

whistle car wash 1 scaled

Whistle Express Car Wash offers automated drive-thru service, as well as self-service interior cleaning equipment. (Photos courtesy Whistle Express Car Wash)

A growing chain of car washes is looking to clean up in the Richmond region.

Charlotte-based Whistle Express Car Wash is planning to open three local outposts in Chesterfield, Hanover and Powhatan counties.

Its first to open will be the Powhatan location at 1880 Stavemill Crossing Lane, with a soft opening Monday.

Another at 7419 Pole Green Road in Hanover is expected to have its own soft opening later next week. The third, at 10300 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield, is scheduled to open in late November.

Each of the upcoming Richmond-area locations are new-construction facilities offering drive-thru automated car washes and self-service vacuum stations and floor-mat cleaning machines. Each location features a wash tunnel between 80 and 120 feet long.

An LLC tied to the North Carolina-based company acquired the Midlothian Turnpike site, a less-than-an-acre property, for $1.4 million in November 2021, according to county property records.

Other entities affiliated with Whistle closed on acquisitions of the Hanover location in July 2022 and the Powhatan spot in December 2021. The 1.4-acre Hanover property was purchased for $1.5 million, and the 2-acre Powhatan site acquired for $1.1 million, according to online land records.

Whistle’s plan is to eventually sell the properties as a revenue-generating strategy and lease back those sites, said Jose Costa, CEO of Whistle’s parent company, Magnolia Wash Holdings.

Costa declined to share Whistle’s specific investment in each location, but said that the industry standard for express washes such as Whistle’s is $5 million to $7 million per location, which includes land acquisition, construction, equipment and other expenses.

Whistle offers a monthly membership program, which runs between about $33 to about $50 a month at the local outposts. A one-off wash ranges in price from about $11 to about $30 locally, according to the company’s website.

The company said in a news release that it anticipates that the Powhatan outpost will be its 100th location. The Powhatan location’s grand opening, which will feature free washes and giveaways, is scheduled for Nov. 3. The other two locations also are planned to have grand openings in November and December.

whistle car wash 2

A Whistle Express Car Wash location in Charleston, South Carolina.

Whistle says it is the 11th-largest car wash chain in the United States. It has locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Ohio. The company expects to have more than 130 locations open by the end of the year.

Whistle’s parent company, Magnolia, is rebranding itself and several other car wash brands it owns, none of which has a presence in the Richmond region, to the Whistle brand in a process expected to wrap up in early December.

In July, Magnolia announced that global investment manager Oaktree Capital Management acquired a majority stake in the company, providing a capital infusion to fuel the firm’s growth.

A&M Capital Opportunities Fund, which is affiliated with private equity firm Alvarez & Marsal Capital, has a minority ownership stake in Magnolia.

Whistle is the latest private equity-backed car wash chain to plot a multi-location expansion plan in the Richmond market. Home-grown Flagstop Car Wash has been on a building spree in recent years, as have out-of-town competitors such as Tommy’s Express.

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Toby Blatt
Toby Blatt
5 months ago

These car washes are going up everywhere. It’s going to be hard for them to compete with Flagstop all over the place now at $24.99 per month.

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
5 months ago
Reply to  Toby Blatt

Agreed and Flagstop’s level of service is also hard to beat. They’ve always been friendly there.