New owners plan on offering same exemplary customer service at Diane’s Car Wash
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling businesswoman, who owned and operated a car wash in the community for nearly four decades, said she would miss interacting with customers as she passes torch to new owners.
Diane Burtch recently sold Diane’s Car Wash, located at 5605 M-72 West, to Matt and Christine LaFontaine, the owners of Matt LaFontaine Automotive. The business will now be known as the MLA Auto Spa.
The car wash was built on a vacant lot and opened in January 1981 by Diane’s former husband, the late Lee Tompkins.
“He studied this for a year and a half and he was instrumental in finally having the whole thing built,” Diane said.
The business started with a five-bay car wash. A drive through car wash was added later.
“The technology changed for the car wash business and drive throughs became important,” Diane said.
In later years, soft cloth equipment was installed for the drive through car wash, causing less impact on the vehicles as they went through the drive through.
“Nothing but the high pressure water would hit the vehicle,” Diane said.
Diane said she would miss interacting with loyal customers and people who visit the community.
“You meet a lot of nice people and just the satisfaction of doing a good job for them and seeing them happy with your product,” she said. “It’s very satisfying.”
Diane will continue hosting the cherry stand, a tradition she has carried on for 22 years, in July.
Diane approached the LaFontaines about buying the business three years ago, when they purchased Scheer Motors.
“We just established a friendship,” she said. “They are very nice people and they’re community minded.”
Diane said it was time to move on with other endeavors.
“Thirty-eight years in business is a long time,” she said.
In conjunction with selling the car wash, the JD Car Wash, located at 2250 S. I-75 Business Loop, which Diane owns with her husband, Jim Burtch, will close this week. The equipment was purchased by the LaFontaines. The building is owned by John Cherven, who manages the Grayling Mini Mall property on behalf of his family.
“As this stage of my life, I didn’t want to get into that business again,” Diane said.
At its main dealership, located at 829 South I-75 Business Loop, Matt LaFontaine Automotive has a GM campus, featuring Chevrolet, Buick and GMC models. A second campus, located at 5850 West M-72, is a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram showroom.
“The car wash and its location between both of our dealerships will fit perfect with our business, having the ability to market washes to our customers as well as use the wash for our daily car wash needs,” Matt said.
The LaFontaines take pride in bringing another long-standing business in the community into the fold.
“We are honored as we were with the Scheer family,” Matt said. “We take pride in upholding the heritage and the long-standing reputation and good will that Diane has invested in Grayling over the past 30 plus years.”
Upgrades are already being made at the car wash.
“We will be enhancing the location over time, starting with paint and signage and lighting, and we will evaluate long term equipment upgrades,” Matt said.
Down the road, the LaFontaines would like to offer some detailing at the car wash.
“Overall, my wife Christine and I believe in investing in our community and we will operate the car wash with the same pride and passion as we put into our dealership operations,” Matt said.