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HomeBusiness & CommunityLocal Family Is All About Military, Community and Car Washes

Local Family Is All About Military, Community and Car Washes

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When the Navarros opened the doors of their first Tommy’s Express Car Wash at Mariner and Northcliffe in November of 2020, it was a trying time for everyone. After three-plus years of hard work, the family was able to open their second location on Cortez in March of 2024 (13406 Cortez Blvd in Brooksville). While Joe Navarro spearheaded the establishment of the Mariner location, his son Jesse would lead the charge on car wash number two. Jesse and his three brothers all invested as franchisees in the Cortez establishment, and Matthew and Michael Navarro will join Jesse and Benjamin in the business once they complete the final years of their military service.

“We are all retired military family here […] in 2017, [my father] retired from the automotive business, then decided he wanted to get into something else,” Jesse said. “We were looking around and we found the car wash business. We have been in business together as a family since I was eight years old. So, we enjoy being in business together and working and being part of our community. That is something that we wanted to continue.”

Due to the family’s automotive background and mechanical aptitude, it made perfect sense for the Navarros to go into the car wash business. They are a tight-knit family that looks to offer high-quality service with a welcoming atmosphere.

One of the biggest challenges the Navarros face is combatting private equity. With companies like Black Rock owning Take Five and other such businesses, fewer and fewer places that offer similar services are locally owned. The family is one of the very few in an ever-shrinking pool of family-owned businesses in their field. Joe, Jesse, and the Navarro siblings became Tommy’s franchisees to “fight those big private equity companies but yet still provide a family service to our community,” said Jesse.

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Jesse Navarro visits other car washes as a customer to observe how those businesses operate in comparison to his own. One difference he noted was the lack of military discounts by some of his competitors. While every business operates differently, the Navarros’ locations will always offer cost-saving measures for military and first responders. They also hold monthly fundraisers for citizens like the Batman of Spring Hill and local sports teams.

“We have done hundreds of fundraisers for soccer teams, wrestling teams, and sponsoring all their [local] teams and also fundraisers to help them buy more equipment and travel […] I had a lady come in here the other day; we wanted to do a fundraiser for her softball team,” Jesse stated. “I gave her like 100 free wash cards so they could go around and try to sell them […] [Military veterans] get an unlimited discount that is continuing for life. If they want to become a member, they get a discount every month off of their membership.”

The other major way Tommy’s and its franchisees differentiate themselves from their competitors is in their technology. Thanks to a forward-thinking owner, the car wash is advanced beyond other businesses due to its conveyor belts, pulse sensors, plate-reading tech, and vacuums.

“Every other wash has a chain and roller system where your wheels sit in between bars,” noted Navarro. “Our whole floor moves and the conveyor takes the car with it.” The biggest advantage of this system is that it allows Tommy’s franchisees to wash dualies as well as cars that sit low to the ground. This includes vehicles like Corvettes, whose ground clearance can be as low as two inches from the earth.
They can control everything through iPads and the car wash uses pulse sensors to measure the lengths of vehicles to evenly apply water and cleaning detergents. Instead of needing stickers or decals that clutter their windshields, Tommy’s customers merely need an easily readable license plate (minimal scratches or coverings) to be identified as a member upon driving in.

Another aspect that drew the Navarros to Tommy’s was the suction system. The business’s vacuums all operate on separate motors as opposed to a central system. This gives their customers the highest quality experience by ensuring there is no loss of suction for those who are cleaning their vehicles.
Tommy’s Express is also “truly unlimited” in the number of times members can wash their cars per day – another rarity among their contemporaries. “People [can] keep going around in circles ten times if they want,” said Navarro.

The business offers four packages of varying coverage: Quality, Super, Ultimate, and The Works. Quality is a simple exterior wash, while The Works includes an underbody flush and tire gloss, among other perks.

The car wash is also one of the few military veteran-owned express car washes, and the Navarros have been happy with how the community has responded to the family’s efforts. With their children attending local schools and participating in county sports, Jesse and company will be there for the community however they can.

“We are here every day,” said Jesse. “If you have some reason you have an issue or something needs to be taken care of, we are here to help you […] The owner of the wash is always going to be here.”

New location for Tommy's Express Car Wash at 13406 Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
New location for Tommy’s Express Car Wash at 13406 Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Tommy's Express Car Wash uses conveyor belts to carry customers' cars through the wash. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Tommy’s Express Car Wash uses conveyor belts to carry customers’ cars through the wash. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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