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Carla Miller of Marengo and Deborah Crawford of Lagrange, Ky., opened Carefree Truck Wash, below, May 12. It is the latest new business to come to Carefree, following Pilot Travel Center and Subway, above left, and Country Style Restaurant, above right. Photo by Chris Adams

Truck wash latest addition for revitalized Carefree


More growth may be on horizon


May 27, 2009
Traffic in Carefree has picked up in the past several months, with the opening of Pilot Travel Center and Subway and Small Brothers Truck and Auto Repair relocating to a new building, and Carla Miller and Deborah Crawford want to do their part to keep it clean.

The women opened Carefree Tuck Wash a couple of weeks ago, along S.R. 66 south of Interstate 64 across from Pilot and in front of Small Brothers. The truck wash — they also wash cars and passenger trucks — occupies a 7,500-square-foot, two-bay, brick building on three acres.

Miller and Crawford chose to construct a new building, instead of moving into an existing structure, because they knew exactly what they wanted in their business and decided it would be easier to tailor a building to fit those needs.

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Photo Courtesy of Carefree Truck Wash
Having visited other truck washes in the region, the women, who received financial assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration, designed a symmetrical building that features a huge bay on both its north and south sides, separated by office space and a chemical and equipment area.

Miller and Crawford planned the business for more than a year. The two worked together at a scrap metal shop — Miller was the accounting and administration officer manager, while Crawford worked in marketing — and early last year decided they wanted to start their own business.

"We had talked for years about doing a car wash, a business of our own that wouldn't require us giving 24 hours, seven days a week," Miller said.

From talking with truck drivers at the scrap metal shop, they decided a truck wash fit the bill. However, they didn't have a location.

Miller and Crawford looked north of Louisville, off of I-71, near Crawford's home in La Grange, Ky., but soon decided the Crawford County site, just off of I-64, made more sense.

"Because it's on sewer, close to the interstate across from the truck stop, and it happened to be on a piece of land that was for sale," Crawford said, adding there isn't another truck wash within 60 miles.

Another plus for Crawford County was the fact that Miller, who moved from the Okolona neighborhood in Louisville to Marengo in 2001 with husband Mike, was familiar with the Carefree area and its recent revitalization.

Since Pilot Travel Center came to the area and Country Style Restaurant re-opened, traffic along the S.R. 66 corridor just south of I-64 has picked up considerably, with estimates of close to 1,000 trucks passing through each day.

The truck wash, which opened May 12, has 11 employees, who will be full time once a steady customer base is developed, Miller said, adding the facility is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

"Within the next year, we hope to be 24/7 with a staff of 25 to 30 people," she said.

Miller said she and Crawford interviewed more than 50 people within eight hours for the current 11 positions.

"So, we are providing a much-needed economic boost to Crawford County," she said, adding employee pay is competitive to other facilities in the county.

Crawford County Eco-nomic Development Exec-utive Director Don DuBois said Miller and Crawford did not ask for a property tax abatement or other incentives, and added Carefree likely isn't finished growing.

"We have other things that we are looking at to improve the entire area," he said.

Days Inn is expected to re-open by mid-summer, and interest has been expressed in opening a restaurant at the former Kathy's Kitchen site adjacent to the truck wash, DuBois said. In addition, on the other side of I-64, the county secured "shovel-ready" status at the industrial park, making it much easier for a plant to locate there, he said.

"A couple of years ago, it was kind of pronounced dead," DuBois said of Carefree, adding the area has rebounded and then some despite the bad economy. "Crawford is really making some progress in some very tough times."

To wash a full-size tractor and trailer takes employees about 20 minutes and costs $61, Crawford said. Cars and passenger trucks also are washed by employees and only take about five minutes, she said, adding the cost for cars is $10, while that for SUVs is $12. Payment methods accepted include cash and credit and debit cards.

Each wash is a four-step process: hot water spray and soap, brush, rinse and spot-free rinse. To ensure the latter is truly spot-free, Miller and Crawford purchased a reverse osmosis water machine that purifies the water.

The women plan to open a couple more truck washes. They haven't chosen locations, but said they would be at least an hour away, so to not take away business from Carefree.

To contact the truck wash, call 739-2032. A Web site — www.carefreetruckwash.com — is under construction.

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