Car wash sold

By on December 12, 2012

Cloister Wash & Lube, the iconic Ephrata-based company known for its local philanthropic efforts, has been sold. As a result, one percent of its more than 400 employees will be laid off.

Word got out Tuesday that Mike Mountz, Cloister’s founder and CEO, sold the business for an undisclosed price to Mister Car Wash, a Tucson-based chain. The purchase gives Mister, the largest chain of its kind in the nation, its first Northeast locations.

The sale was reportedly finalized Dec. 4, at which time Mountz officially retired.

"This was one of the most difficult decisions of his life," said Sharon Ramp, director of marketing for Cloister, said in a business article published by the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era.

The Lancaster newspaper also reported that as part of the acquisition, one percent of Cloister’s 400-plus employees will be laid off.

The Cloister name will be retained at all four locations.

The following background comes from the Intel/New Era article:

Mountz, an Ephrata resident, started Cloister in 1984 when he purchased a small carwash in Ephrata. In the decades that followed, he turned it into a regional business. He started broadening its reach by purchasing a carwash in York in 1994, razing and replacing it with an improved facility the following year. He came to Lancaster by opening a carwash and lube shop on Manheim Pike in 1999 on the former Kerek Air Freight site. He developed a carwash, pet wash, motorcycle wash and lube shop in Reading in 2006.

Meanwhile, he expanded his original Ephrata location on West Main Street several times, adding features such as a lube shop and recon shop.

Its headquarters are on Dawn Avenue in Ephrata.

Mountz, who was inducted into the International Carwash Association’s Hall of Fame in 2010, is renowned in the industry for his numerous innovations. These include having vehicles travel on a moving belt through a carwash and using a lift to raise motorcycles for easier self-service washing.

Mountz’s operational breakthroughs were so creative that his carwashes were featured on the History Channel’s "Modern Marvels" series.

Cloister also has been honored by the industry association with awards for its community service and leadership in innovation.

Including the Cloister deal, Mister Car Wash now has 103 carwashes and 33 lube shops in 11 states.

Before the Cloister transaction, Mister Car Wash’s locations closest to Pennsylvania were in North Carolina.

Mister Car Wash was founded in 1969 in Houston. It’s been owned by ONCAP, a private equity firm, since 2007.

Mister Car Wash has been on an acquisition spree in 2012. Including the Cloister deal, it’s added 32 locations via 10 acquisitions this year. More CAR WASH, page A18

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