Plano-Based Zips Car Wash Soaks Up $70M Investment From New York PE Firm

Zips, the "largest privately held car wash operator in the U.S.," moved its corporate office to Plano in 2020 to better support its expansion. Today, it boasts 280 locations across 25 states.

Plano-based Zips Car Wash has secured a $70 million investment from Atlantic Street Capital, a private equity firm known for its hands-on approach with lower middle-market companies. The capital infusion aims to support Zips’ operating strategy, enhance member experience, and improve wash quality, according to Atlantic Street Capital (ASC).

Zips describes itself as the “largest privately held car wash operator in the U.S.”

Andy Wilkins, ASC

The company, which operates about 280 locations across 25 states under its Zips Car Wash, Rocket Express Car Wash, and Jet Brite Car Wash brands, has seen most of its growth in the past eight years through acquisitions and development, according to ASC. Zips partnered with PE firm in 2020, moving its corporate office to Plano to better support its growing portfolio and facilitate easier access to its expanding network of car washes.

“Express-only car wash chains are a great place to invest, yet face challenging consumer trends that need to be addressed by Zips and the industry at large,” ASC Managing Partner Andy Wilkins said in a statement. “This capital is critical for Zips’ efforts to think beyond existing industry strategies to accelerate growth, define membership experience, and capture retail attention.”

After its initial investment in 2020, Atlantic Street increased its investment in 2022 by acquiring additional equity from founding shareholders through a continuation fund, ASC noted. 

Driving innovation under new leadership

Since Gene Dinkens was promoted to CEO of Zips Car Wash in October 2021, the company has been on an aggressive growth track. Dinkens, who joined Zips in May 2020 with over 30 years of experience in other industries, has leveraged best practices to significantly improve Zips’ business model and daily operations, according to CIOViews.

“We feel like we are in an excellent place right now to grow our brand exponentially with our newest technologies in place, to help us scale in size quickly and efficiently,” said Dinkens, as reported by CIOViews in 2022. Dinkens was one of the publication’s 10 “Most Innovative CEOs to Watch” that year. 

Under his leadership, Zips has focused on innovation, including implementing advanced communication tools and industry-leading technology to enhance customer experience. Zips has standardized the look and feel of its car washes and added ceramic products to all sites in 2021, ensuring a consistent and high-quality experience across all locations whether in New Mexico or North Carolina, per CIOViews.

Celebrating two decades of suds and service

As Zips Car Wash marks its 20th anniversary this month, the company is launching several community initiatives. Customers can contribute to Folds of Honor, a charity supporting military families, by adding a donation to their car wash purchases. On key military holidays, Zips will donate an additional $1 for every new app download, according to a Zips news release.

Founded in 2004 with just two locations in rural Arkansas, Zips has grown exponentially, making it a dominant force in the car wash industry, according to the company. The company’s growth has been largely fueled by strategic acquisitions and development, making it a dominant force in the car wash industry. As a nod to its beginnings, Zips has “extended its anniversary celebration” with a $5 “Light Wash” wash at nearly all locations.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report. 

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