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Former missionaries launch jet carwash

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Removing the dirt: Ayo-Oluwa Salawu gives a car a “shampoo shower” at Budget-Jet Car Wash & Valet Services on North Shore Road, Pembroke (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A new jet carwash business is attracting customers on North Shore Road.

Owners David and Tracy Salawu set up the enterprise after being unable to find work since returning to Bermuda after 20 years of overseas missionary work.

Determined to find a way forward for their family, the couple first tested the jet carwash concept in Nigeria, near to their mission base. It was a success.

They then set to work on a Bermuda version. It has taken about six months to transform a vacant plot on North Shore Road, Pembroke, directly opposite Grace Methodist Church, into a jet carwash facility.

Last Friday the business welcomed its first customers, and the response since has been encouraging.

“We had a company executive who stopped by and said it was excellent and she was going to tell all her staff to come here,” Mrs Salawu said.

There has been positive feedback from other customers, including a car showroom operator and a truck driver whose vehicle was too large to be cleaned in an automated car wash.

Mrs Salawu said the business is still finding its feet, but early indications show it is on the right track.

The Salawus left Bermuda in 1989 to carry out missionary work in West Africa and England. When they came back three years ago they discovered the Island’s economic landscape had changed significantly, particularly on the work front.

Mrs Salawu said she previously worked for 18 years in the insurance industry and has a number of industry qualifications, but has been unable to find a new position since her return.

“I have the professional qualifications and I have applied for everything, but I have not been able to find work,” she said.

The couple came up with the idea of starting a jet-powered car wash venture that is solely hand operated to give greater attention to detail. They believe the concept is the first of its kind on the Island.

Budget-Jet Car Wash & Valet Services is a personalised “touchless” carwashing service that uses jet-wash appliances, blowers and vacuums. Unlike an automated carwash, the “touchless” service aims at avoiding the swirls often left behind on a car’s bodywork when they are hand-washed.

Before setting up Budget-Jet in Bermuda, the couple wanted to see if such a business idea would work.

Mr Salawu, who is a licensed minister of The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, returned to Nigeria last year to trial a jet carwash enterprise close to the couple’s mission base. It took off and is still in operation, serving a community of more than 50,000.

Although it is still early days for Budget-Jet on North Shore Road, the business is attracting attention and customers.

“We are proud of our service, and we use 100 per cent biodegradable and environmentally-friendly products,” Mrs Salawu said.

Vehicles are given a power-jet snow wash, which is a waxed shine shampoo, followed by a power dry treatment to leave cars shining and clean.

The range of services start at $35 for an exterior-only clean, and extend upwards to include interior steam cleaning, full detailing and a valet service.

Customers can stop by to have their car cleaned; alternatively they can call or book online. There is a pickup and drop-off service available, providing 24 hours’ notice is given.

Mrs Salawu said the Budget-Jet team are trained in car cleaning. Not only has the business given the couple work, it is providing jobs for a number of others who were previously unemployed.

Two of the couple’s teenage children, daughter Busayo and son Ayo-Oluwa, are also part of the team.

The business is open to offering discounted deals to companies that are looking for a place where they can have their fleet vehicles cleaned to a high standard.

Budget-Jet offers a 5 per cent discount for seniors, and a similar discount on Wednesdays for general customers. This Saturday there will be a Labour Day 5 per cent discount special between 8am and 1pm.

Although already operating from Tuesdays to Saturdays, an official grand opening is planned for 10am on Saturday, September 12.

• Budget-Jet Car Wash & Valet Services has a website at: www.budget-jet.com/index.php

Ready to shine: Budget-Jet Car Wash & Valet Services’ owners David Salawu, left, and Tracy Salawu, right, with their daughter Busayo and son Ayo-Oluwa, who are part of the team (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Attention to detail: Ayo-Oluwa Salawu preparing the interior of a car for a shampoo at Budget-Jet Car Wash & Valet Services on North Shore Road, Pembroke (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)