In an era marked by distance, automation, and impersonality, it is comforting to know that, despite common misconceptions, family owned and operated businesses have not gone entirely the way of the dodo.
Founded in Philadelphia in 1970 by brothers-in-law John Terrizzi and Vincent Pinto, Pit Stop Car Wash began operations as an exterior-only car wash and gas station. Located on Cottman Avenue, right on the border between Northeast Philadelphia and Cheltenham Township, it has no doubt become (if nothing else) a visual staple for commuters coming into and going out of the city via Route 73. For many others it has become a regular stop, an inviting and reliable place to get their cars washed.
Years after its founding, Terrizzi, who had previously run an auto-repair shop in South Philadelphia, passed the business on to his son, John Jr. Wanting his son to build his own legacy at the wash, he made John Jr. promise that he would work to expand the business. He made good on that promise, fully renovating the wash and adding a bank of self-serve stations on one side of the building. In addition to the self-serve option, Pit Stop now offers both exterior and full-service washes.
John Jr. has since handed the reins over to his own son Tim, who is committed to maintaining the integrity of the family business.
Raised in Huntingdon Valley, Tim Terrizzi attended Abington Senior High School and graduated from Temple University in 2020 with a degree in education. During his adolescence, he spent his weekends at Pit Stop with his father, working part-time and learning the ins and outs of the wash. He considered pursuing a teaching career, but ultimately decided to work with his family.
“I was born into [the business], and I’ve always looked up to my dad and my grandfather,” said Tim. “I’ve really marveled at their work ethic and their ability to reach people, and to mold the lives of the people that came through the place, and to provide people opportunity and respect that they maybe hadn’t received in other places. I always wanted to be like that.”
Now in a managerial position, Tim has had the chance to emulate his predecessors. He seems to have risen to the task. He is on site six days a week and tries to make himself available for his employees and his customers in whatever way he can. He understands that business is not just about numbers, but about real flesh-and-blood people.
“For me, as a family business owner, I want to make sure that people get that family touch,” Tim said. “When they come to my wash, I want to make sure that someone greets them with a smile…and that a car is never left for a customer to get into without someone saying goodbye and wishing the person a good day and thanking them for coming.”
John Terrizzi Sr., now eighty-seven, still handles the car wash’s books. Tim’s sister, Sarah, manages the social media and marketing aspects of the business. John Jr. and his other son, John III, run three MAACO auto-body shops outside the city.
Pit Stop Car Wash partnered with EverWash in July 2017. At the time, it was one of only thirty-eight washes on the platform. (EverWash is now partnered with well over six hundred locations across the United States.)
Despite the challenges over the last eighteen months brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tim, his family, and his employees have persevered, and have in fact witnessed some sizable growth in their membership base. As of the publication of this article, Pit Stop Car Wash has over six hundred EverWash members. Tim hopes he can double that number by next year.
Tim Terrizzi is ambitious, intelligent, and self-assured. He is also willing to acknowledge his limitations as he tries to discern the best way to integrate the EverWash program into a larger professional framework. He has commended the EverWash team for their commitment to maintaining real and intimate relationships with their partners, in spite of EverWash’s transition from a mere start-up to an established business in the car wash industry.
“It’s a great comfort to me that I can reach any of the executives whenever I’d like to, honestly,” Tim said. “If I’ve struggled, I could reach out to anyone for advice, resources, whatever, and there’s a dialogue…I appreciate that aspect of [EverWash] probably above anything else.”