Business Matters: McKinley Car Wash

Business Matters

If you live on Oahu, it’s a place you’ve probably driven past countless times, and there’s always a lineup of cars there. 

But at McKinley car wash, customers get much more than just a clean car. 

They get a level of service established more than half a century ago and passed down over three generations. 

Pretty much every minute of every day the process is repeated, over and over again. Lather, rinse and sparkle, shine, and smile.

Started on a small loan, and a huge leap of faith McKinley car wash today is much more than just a place to spiff your ride, it’s a testament to a work ethic not often seen in today’s world.

“That’s how we were raised by my dad and our uncles,” said Craig Yoshikawa. “They were always involved in operations of the business, and we still run a business like a small family business.”

For Craig Yoshikawa and his brother Max, that level of service is the only way they know.

Ingrained since childhood by their father, Yuki, who still watches over the family business he founded 56 years ago.

“My philosophy is if service is good, people will come back. If service bad, people don’t come back,” said Yuki Yoshikawa.

“Even at his age, now 94, he still comes in six days a week eight to nine hours a day,” said Kurt Yoshikawa. “Unfortunately, he can’t do what he used to do, but he’s here. Just his presence makes us better just him being here.”

What Yuki used to do is what his sons do now. Grab a towel, and pick a car. A work ethic now passed on to the next generation.

“Yeah, I am fortunate to have the family that I have put in so much work over the past 50 years. For me, it’s an honor to be a part of a business that’s loved by some many in the community and in the state. So, I am the fortunate one,” said Kurt.

The Yoshikawa’s admit there have been challenges over the years. From the gas shortage in the ’70s, to the ever-increasing competition.

“Competition continues to come and go, but we just continue to give a great product to take care of customers, and they appreciate that, so they keep on returning, so we’re very fortunate I have a very loyal customer base and it keeps us employed,” said Craig. 

Today, McKinley carwash services between 800 to a thousand customers each and every day. A level of success can be traced right back to the company’s founder.

“I’ve always respected his business acumen you’re such a gift to this island and a treasure to all of us other entrepreneurs,” said customer Courtney Jeter.

“You come to get your car washed but for you, it’s more than just that. Through him I know about his family, and he’s truly a gem for this community and there’s not a lot like him anymore,” said customer Terry O’Toole. 

“It’s inspiring to see him work. At 11, customers come up to him and say ‘you’re my hero, you inspire me. I want to be like you.’ When I tell him, ‘you get compliments just for coming to work every day, I wish I could get the same compliments you do,” said Max. 

“I’m old enough to be retired, I am 94. I have no problem. I’m not worried. I know this car wash will last for many, many years,” said Yuki. 

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