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Troy Montpetit has car wash soap suds running through his veins and his DNA. 

Montpetit moved his family’s Downtowner car wash empire from Cape Coral to Collier County last year and now is expanding to southern Lee County.  

The company will begin construction in the fall of an express car wash on Three Oaks Parkway about halfway between Alico and Corkscrew roads. The goal is to open by the third quarter of 2024. 

Montpetit purchased two express car washes in eastern Collier County—one at Berkshire Commons near the northwest corner of Radio Road and Santa Barbara Boulevard and another at 5080 Tamiami Trail E. near Shops at Hammock Cove—not long after selling his five Cape Coral facilities and two properties they had planned to build on, in late 2021.

“I joke around that I retired for one full week,” Montpetit, 45, said. “We sold them, and a week later we closed on the two car washes.” 

Montpetit is the third generation of his family’s car wash business. 

His grandfather was the first to own a Downtowner Car Wash. He opened it in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1978. Montpetit’s father, Jay, bought the family business in 1983 and expanded it. 

Montpetit’s dad, who owned a vacation home in Cape Coral, purchased a full-service car wash there in 2006. Montpetit decided to move to Cape Coral and partner with his dad. 

They added an express car wash in 2013, and by the time they sold the business they had five locations and were ready to build two more. 

His father, for the most part, stepped away from the business when they sold the Cape Coral stores.  

“I learned a lot from him,” Montpetit said. 

An express car wash is different from full service because drivers don’t leave their cars going through the tunnel and then they vacuum and clean their own interiors.  

Taking over the two car washes was a “unique challenge,” said Thomas Halvorsen, vice president of operations. 

They didn’t know the equipment or the customer base as they did at their Cape Coral stores.  

“We think we’ve taken our worst punches there and are well on our way,” said Halvorsen, who has worked for the Montpetits for 13 years.  

Downtowner is busy building its customer base, getting ready for the winter season and planning the Three Oaks location, said Halvorsen, who has a small equity stake in the company. 

The summer months tend to be much slower. Business is down about 40% from what it was between October and May, Halvorsen said.  

Montpetit likes the Three Oaks location because of the growth in that area, and it will be next to a 7-Eleven. 

“It’s always nice to be next to a gas station,” he said. “So, they can fill up their car and just zip over and get a wash right next to it.” 

The goal is to expand to five or six car washes, Montpetit said. 

Each new car wash is between a $5 million and $6 million investment, he said.  

The Three Oaks car wash will have something neither Naples business has, a dog wash. The Montpetits built dog washes at their Cape locations. 

“The dog washes are wildly popular,” Halvorsen said. “I’m actually looking forward to those again.” 

Montpetit said his son gave him the idea. 

The Three Oaks location will have two air-conditioned bays to wash dogs. 

The Montpetits looked at a couple of locations in Orlando that had dog-washing bays, but they noticed how the bays smelled like wet dog.  

They added air conditioning to each bay and workers clean up after every dog wash.  

“You walk around town and people say, ‘Do you have a dog wash car wash?’” Montpetit said. 

“They mentioned the dog first. What about the nice car wash with the 130-foot tunnel and all the lights and show in there, but they love the dog wash.” 

The bays cost $5 for 7 minutes of time and $10 for 15 minutes, Halvorsen said.  

The dog wash sets Downtowner apart from other express car washes, but the competition keeps growing. Another express car wash is planned two miles away from the Three Oaks site. Another is open less than three miles away. 

Montpetit acknowledges the competition. 

“There’s a ton of them going up,” he said. “There’s a lot of them going up, but there’s a lot of growth in this area.” 

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