Best of friends, thrill seekers take on new business challengeTwo men, John Gramenz and Andrew Whitney, who have known each other for years, have recently taken ownership of the former Fast Lube in Prescott.
By: Tracy Webb , Pierce County Herald
PRESCOTT--Two men, John Gramenz and Andrew Whitney, who have known each other for years, have recently taken ownership of the former Fast Lube in Prescott.
With Andrew’s father, William, the crew initially was looking for a car wash to invest in, specifically a coin-operated car wash business. They looked as far as Pine City, Minn., and found several, Gramenz said, “but this was the best opportunity.”
Together, their short term goals include community involvement, especially with the school sports teams, and increasing car count at the business. Long-term goals are to expand, jointly and separately, into a few more acquisitions to include similar and other types of investment opportunities.
They have set out to clean up the current operation.
“We are the new broom,” Gramenz said, “the new broom that sweeps up clean--bringing in fresh ideas, new innovative products and services, and we’re bringing back the 300,000 mile engine warranty.”
Changing the name from Finish First Fast Lube to the fitting AJ’s Express Lube was first on the agenda. Next, they partnered with Valvoline Motor Oil to offer customers the 300,000 mile warranty. They are replacing the automated wash system in the car wash so customers can enjoy a fresh, but powerful, vehicle wash.
The new owner and operators both have express lube backgrounds, as well as car wash operation backgrounds. They met while working for AeroShine in the Twin Cities, washing airplanes for Northwest Airlines.
“That was the greatest job ever,” said Whitney, “there’s nothing comparable to being that close to an aircraft.” It was at AeroShine the two became best friends.
After the airline cutbacks, the two went to the Downtowner Car Wash in St. Paul, where Gramenz first became the detail manager and then Andrew joined the company a few years later.
Gramenz’s educational background also includes broadcast media and marketing. Using that knowledge, their plans to reach their goals seem attainable.
“This is exciting,” Gramenz said, “with AJ’s Express Lube, this will get us started.”
Both are thrill seekers, Whitney said.
“Next month I’m going sky diving,” he said.
And both are avid outdoorsmen, enjoying hiking, boating, canoeing and fishing, to name a few. Whitney has lived all over the country the past four years, but returned to Prescott near his family, who have been residents for nearly 35 years. Gramenz has two children, son Tracey, 19, living in the south metro area and daughter, McKayla, who will be attending sixth grade in Prescott this fall.
AJ’s Express Lube is offering all lubricants, synthetic and synthetic blends, as well as conventional oils and tires.
“Every customer will get a free wash with every oil change,” said Whitney, “or they can have a free tire rotation, which should be done with every third oil change anyway.”
“We’re here every day,” said Gramenz, “If you have any questions or ideas for us, let us know. And we’re excited to meet every single person in this community.”
For more information, contact AJ’s at (715) 262-5750. The business is located at 945 Canton St.