Rancho Car Wash on Jefferson Avenue and Winchester Road is celebrating 30 years in business. It was all started when Joe Kuzmanic, son of immigrant parents from Croatia, built his first car wash in the small town of San Pedro in 1959. In 1965, Joe’s San Pedro Car Wash was the first to become an automated car wash in Southern California. He realized that automation would benefit the industry which led him to become a distributor of Hanna Car Wash Systems in the late 60’s. Joe went on to facilitate renovation and development of over 150 car washes in California over the next two decades.
He also designed a system to recycle wash water saving operators and the environment water usage. Fresh water used to wash a car went from 150 gallons down to under 20 gallons. Joe’s design is still being used today at nearly all locations. He was recognized and received an award from Mayor Sam Yorty and the City of L.A. for saving billions of gallons of water by implementing his system.
In the early 60’s, Joe and a few other operators started the California Car Wash Association which enabled members to learn from each other and open a path of dialogue with regulatory agencies to help protect the environment’s water resources. That association now encompasses 12 western states with over 2,000 member car washes.
At one time, Joe and his partner owned and operated 7 car washes in Southern California. In 1978, Joe’s son Kirk joined his company. Kirk started as a line employee and eventually earned an Assistant Manager position which later led to a Manager position at one location.
Kirk eventually became responsible for 2 car washes and in 1983 became a part owner in the company. When Joe moved to the Temecula Valley in 1984 he was one of the founders of Bear Creek Golf Club and built his home in La Cresta.
In 1986, Joe asked Kirk to meet him in Temecula on the end of a small freeway off-ramp called Winchester Road. They met on the dirt corner with no development in sight other than a Jack in the Box, a small office building and a Stater Bros market off in the distance. Joe introduced Kirk to Jim Roberts of Rancon Real Estate and Mark Esbensen of Westmar Real Estate and together with his dad, Kirk decided to purchase the property at 27378 Jefferson Avenue with the intention to build the valley’s first Full Service Car Wash and offer gasoline, oil changes as well as auto detailing.
At the time, the area was called Rancho California. The small town had not yet become an incorporated City, so the County of Riverside was in control of development. Rancho Car Wash was the second car wash in all of Southern California with a double tunnel at the time. The first was Joe’s location in Artesia called Big Penny Car Wash.
Opening day of Rancho Car Wash in June of 1988 was the busiest start of any car wash Joe had previously developed. The demand for quality service, convenience, lowest gasoline prices in the valley and value was evident from day one! That opening month, Rancho Car Wash washed over 13,000 cars and sold nearly 150,000 gallons of fuel. Joe’s insight and belief in his staff and product was a success!
A developer noticed the success of Rancho Car Wash and built another full-service car wash on Rancho California Road at Moraga Road in 1990. In April 1991, Joe and Kirk purchased that location from the struggling operator. The local economy went through some tough times for the next 5 years and so did the car wash industry. Teamwork and dedication to the core beliefs that the company was built on got the company through those tough years.
In 1994, Joe was in an auto accident which left him a quadriplegic confined to a wheel chair.
But, that did not stop Joe from pursuing his love of the business and life. In the year’s that followed, Joe traveled to Europe, fished in Alaska with his sons and grandsons and married a lovely woman. He eventually made Palm Springs his permanent residents in 1998.
In 2007, with a strong urging from Joe, Kirk and Joe purchased a failing full service car wash in Palm Springs called Airport Car Wash. Under Joe’s direction, Airport Car Wash became success.
In 2002, Joe’s grandson, Kirk’s son Kirk Jr. joined the family business. “Junior’s” passion for the business is as strong as his father and grandfather’s. A third generation “bumper wiper”!
This past year, Joe’s health began to suffer which led to his peaceful death on April 9th of this year. In celebration of Joe’s love of his business and 30 years of gratitude to Temecula and Murrieta residents patronage, Kirk is rolling back the price of a FULL-SERVICE CAR WASH to what it was in 1988! For the entire month of June, Rancho and Temecula Car Wash locations will provide FULL-SERVICE CAR WASHES FOR $6.99.
Let the Kuzmanic Family thank you for all the years of service to you. Let our friendly staff serve you! Some of our staff have been with us the entire 30 years, others 25 years, and some 20 years. Let us clean your windows inside and out. Let us wipe your car dry. All this while you relax in our air conditioned, comfortable lobby. For those of you that have been coming over the years, THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOYALTY. For those of you that don’t know us, please come by and meet us! We guarantee your complete satisfaction. Join our Loyalty Club for just $34.99 per month and get UNLIMITED FULL- SERVICE CAR WASHES. We plan to be here another 30 years to serve you!