Hamilton carwash up for sale
The popular, family-run Bull’s Head Car Wash is going up for sale 15 years after its launch.
Co-owner and manager Art Riviere, 78, has admitted it is finally time for him to retire and take some time for himself and his family.
The land and building located at 5 Jackson’s Way, Hamilton, are being sold as a package and Mr Riviere has offered his services in training anyone who may decide to keep the business running. Its services include interior and exterior cleaning, tyre purchasing and tyre rotating.
When he opened the automated drive-through carwash in December 2004 on family owned land, it was so popular that vehicles would be lined up on the street, sometimes to the point that they blocked the roundabout on Dundonald Street as they waited to be serviced.
Mr Riviere recalled: “Police used to come and try to tell us we were blocking the roundabout and customers refused to move. We said we can’t do anything about that. It was very successful at first. I think a lot of Bermudians just wanted the experience of using a carwash.
“We washed 217 cars in one day — that was our record.”
Mr Riviere, who is originally from Dominica and married his Bermudian wife, Sharon, in 1967, always had an interest in mechanics and saw a gap in the market in Bermuda.
The family had run a Chinese restaurant in Hamilton, initially as part of a consortium, for close to a decade but once the supermarkets started to offer buffet service the business was impacted and that led him to explore new ideas.
The property on Jackson’s Way was available and he seized the opportunity to launch the new business.
“We didn’t have a drive-through carwash or any carwash in Bermuda back then,” he recalled.
“They did try one where Bermy Cuisine is but it was a manual wash not automated.
“So knowing the need for the service I thought let’s give this a shot. This was family property which helped to keep the cost down.
“We had to prepare the land to accommodate it and I went to the States to one of the companies that build car washes. I went around to different car washes to see how they operated. We decided on this, because of the size of the lot, and we started on the plans.”
The early years were booming for the business which employed about 12 staff members including his daughters Danielle, Denise and wife Sharon.
However, when Bermuda was hit by the recession in around 2009, the carwash took a hit.
Denise Riviere, who takes care of administration, recalled: “We had a lot of expats leave the island and that was a good chunk of our volume.
“Bermuda saw a little bit of an increase after the really bad part of the recession, but because of the exodus, we don’t have that population any more.
“We are also not the only drive-through any more, but we still have a large number of loyal customers who have been coming to us since the beginning and we are very appreciative of their support.
“In an effort to be creative in a harder economy, we have supported a lot of programmes over the years through charities and schools.
“A lot of people know the family and so it’s become an extended family.”
Many of those customers, as well as staff members, will particularly miss Art Riviere whom they affectionately call “Papa”. Over the years, they brought him treats including cookies and cakes as a thank you for his impeccable service which included rides to their destination when they left their cars behind.
Mr Riviere says he will miss his customers and staff too.
“I am very conscious of making the customer feel special,” he said. “I have a bond with a lot of our customers so I will miss that and being able to provide a service that is needed — we have a lot of customers who appreciate our service.
“I am 1½ years short of 80 and it is time for me to move on to the next stage of my life, which is to take it easy and not have to wake up to a clock.
“I am the Uber of the family so I will be spending time with my grandchildren.”
Bull’s Head Car Wash will be initiating a promotion later this month called “Wash It While You Work”, offering vehicle owners parked in Bull’s Head Car Park with a special valet service while they work.
The family’s goal is to sell the property and building as one, understanding that someone may decide to keep the business, repurpose the building or simply want the land.
Anyone interested can contact Mr Riviere on 335-4857, or the agent Keller Williams by calling 737-2355 or 707-1556
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