From combat to car wash: former military man fixes up local eyesore

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published July 29, 2015


FRASER — A long-defunct building on 14 Mile and Hayes roads has gotten a much-needed uplift, thanks to a local man in his post-military career.

Matthew Reiter, born and raised in Macomb County in a military family, has turned a former Fraser eyesore into Crystal Clean Car Wash.

He spent 11 1/2 years as an Army officer, serving in South Korea for a while before his tour of duty in Iraq as a commander. His journeys brought him back to where it all began, working border patrol at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in nearby Harrison Township.

The married father of four said his experience in the military prepared him for a career as an entrepreneur, using leadership and management to tackle whatever venture in life he decided to pursue.

“I guess I’m kind of predisposed to being in charge of whatever I’ve got my hands on,” Reiter said. “It kind of suits me; I’m drawn to it. If things are meant to be, it’s up to me to get them done.”

Crystal Clean, purchased in late March and opened in April, became a reality after Reiter began evaluating different types of businesses about nine months prior to his purchase. He hired a consultant and looked at any car wash that could have been purchased in Macomb County, using different criteria and various books and articles on the subject to help him better scope out a nice site.

When he discovered the building near 14 Mile Road and Hayes, he said it was head and shoulders above all the others he looked at. He also found that many people were less than enthused about the previous owners of the property, who had also run a car wash operation.

“It was not run well at all, and you could ask any Sterling Heights or Fraser resident how disappointing it was,” he said. “It was in a state of disrepair and all the customers kind of had the same story.”

Fraser Building Official Randy Warunek said the previous business slowed down plenty during the recession, and recalled how residents called his department and constantly complained about being treated poorly.

“(The previous owner) did not care, probably did it as some kind of investment,” Warunek said. “He was basically losing all the former customers because he didn’t care.”

Reiter admitted that customers were timid about returning to the location, but when he met and had conversations with them, they saw a revitalized business in the city ready to serve its residents.

“It’s convenient,” Reiter said. “It’s nice to have that local car wash that used to be great and is rejuvenated. I want it to be like how people remember, so that people can get over the bad experience they’ve had over the last three years.”

Reiter wants the business to be in tip-top shape. He estimated the business is somewhere between 85-95 percent ready in terms of where he wants it to be.

Reiter is replacing a lot of equipment that was in a state of disrepair.

He recently ran specials for members of the Facebook E.N.U.F.F. group that consists of many Fraser residents.

Reiter’s message is simple: He wants everyone to know that he has a business people can trust.

“We’re not going to stop until it’s great again,” he said.

The grand opening is Thursday, Aug. 6, from 4-6 p.m.

Those interested in the progress of the car wash or who want  more information, can visit the Crystal Clean Car Wash page on Facebook.