Breaking News
More () »

Prominent St. Louis car wash operator sells most locations to Travis Kelce-backed company

Club Car Wash last month closed a deal to acquire eight Tidal Wave Express locations throughout the St. Louis region, in both Missouri and Illinois.
Credit: Gloria Lloyd
An existing car wash in Collinsville, along with seven other locations, will soon operate under a different name.

ST. LOUIS — A Columbia, Missouri-based car wash chain partly owned by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has acquired most of the locations of one of St. Louis’ most prominent car wash operators, in a deal that paid more than $5 million each for some sites.

Club Car Wash last month closed a deal to acquire eight Tidal Wave Express locations throughout the St. Louis region, in both Missouri and Illinois, the company said in a news release. The eight car washes were owned by Chesterfield-based Tidal Wave, which started in Chesterfield in 2016. Over the past 18 months, Tidal Wave rapidly expanded from five locations to 11, including three luxury car washes and eight express locations.

The Tidal Wave Express sites will be rebranded as Club Car Wash, bringing the Columbia company to 23 locations in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The car wash operator, which started as Tiger Express Car Wash in 2006 and rebranded in 2019, currently has 109 total locations in eight central states.

Club Car Wash CEO Roland Bartels is the majority owner of the company, and Kelce acquired a stake in December 2020, ahead of plans to expand with seven locations in Kansas City and elsewhere, Bartels said last year.

The car wash company said it plans to expand to nearly 140 locations this year by scaling rapidly to four more states through acquisitions and new developments, mirroring its expansion in cities like Wichita, Kansas, in 2021.

The acquisition did not include three full-service Tidal Wave Wash Centers, luxury car washes that operate with convenience stores and gas stations in Sunset Hills, Chesterfield and Ellisville, Club Car Wash said.

Two of the Express sites purchased — Maplewood and Lake St. Louis — opened this year. Several more locations are in the works for Tidal Wave, but the status of those was unclear. Sites are in various stages of development in Edwardsville; Belleville; Fairview Heights; Town and Country; Butler Hill Road in south St. Louis County; Bridgeton; St. Charles; St. Peters; O'Fallon, Missouri; Chippewa/Dutchtown; Troy, Missouri; Lake of the Ozarks; and 20 more locations throughout Missouri and Illinois, according to Tidal Wave's website.

Club Car Wash and Tidal Wave did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Tidal Wave CEO Mace Nosovitch said in a statement, “Partnering with the Wildcat Capital Management team and Club Car Wash felt like the right next step in the evolution of Tidal Wave Express Car Wash – it pairs our premier locations and expansive pipeline of future locations with Club’s best-in-class operational model and provides tremendous career growth opportunities for our employees. We are excited to join the team and grow the St. Louis market and beyond.”

No details were available on any financial stake in Club Car Wash by Wildcat, a New York-based private equity and real investment firm with a multibillion-dollar portfolio that invests in car washes.

Some of the Tidal Wave Express sites sold for millions of dollars, although sale details are not yet available for all locations. At least one of the sites, in Maplewood, was leased by Tidal Wave from Kroenke Group, according to past Business Journal reporting.

Read the rest of the story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

Before You Leave, Check This Out