A Family Business That Shines

by Reema Abi-Akar

Deeply rooted in family and the community, Red Carpet Car Wash brings a memorable experience to all of its customers.

Walt Disney believed that “a man should never neglect his family for business,” a notion Roger and Rose Seghetti took to heart when they started their own business 46 years ago. Today, the Seghettis, along with their children, grandchildren and other family members, work hard to embody Disney’s principles at Red Carpet Car Wash with a commitment to full service and attention to detail that sets the business apart.

Taking a Risk
Roger Seghetti had a dream. During his time at Bradley University, he and a friend saw a great opportunity in the car wash business, as Peoria didn’t have its own full-service station at the time. “[My friend] married into a family that manufactured brushes for the car wash industry, so he had insights to that,” he recalls. So when Seghetti graduated with a business degree, he and his partner were ready to jump into their new project.

But just as the men began to put their strategy into action, they hit a roadblock. “After we committed to a real estate lease and decided that we were going to go in as partners, he backed out on his part of the arrangement,” Seghetti recalls. “So I leaned on [my wife] Rose; she said she would be a cashier. We decided to try it on our own, and we ventured out and took a chance by starting the first [location] on that kind of shaky basis... in 1967.”

Seghetti had been working at LeTourneau-Westinghouse, the earthmoving and construction company, and Red Carpet was initially intended to be a side business that he would tend to in his spare time. “We only thought that through hard work and a side business, we would be able to fund education for our children,” he says.

Despite these modest aspirations, the business was wildly successful, and after opening their first establishment on Jefferson Street, the Seghettis eventually expanded to two additional locations: at the corner of Glen and Sheridan in 1991, and on North Knoxville in 2006. Since its precarious inception, Red Carpet Car Wash has become one of the most successful and iconic businesses in central Illinois.

All in the Family
When the company expanded at Glen and Sheridan, Seghetti’s son-in-law joined the Red Carpet team. Freshly graduated from Bradley University with a degree in business marketing, Dan Maloof had married Seghetti’s daughter, Kathy, in 1989, and was working for Foster and Gallagher in Peoria. “Roger and I carried on… a six-month conversation on whether I should come on full-time or not,” he explains. “The timing was good… my coming on board helped Roger and the managers basically operate both locations.” Today, Maloof serves as a vice president and general manager of the company.

About a decade later, in the early 2000s, Seghetti’s son also joined the team.

 Having grown up around the family business, David Seghetti was already well-versed in its workings. “I started when I was eight, washing towels for a quarter an hour,” he remembers. “I worked all the way through high school… and then went to law school and practiced in Chicago for 15 years doing corporate law.” But he was looking for a career change, and with Red Carpet ready to expand to a third location, it was yet another case of good timing. “And that’s when … I decided to come back [to Peoria].”

In addition to blood relatives, the business has developed a large “family” ofemployees over time, some of whom have worked there for more than four decades. “We’ve had good people working for us, and we trained them well,” explains Roger Seghetti. “We were able to run these businesses with good employees and good managers, well-trained, but with family oversight.”

The Disney Experience
Always seeking to improve their business by finding unique approaches to management, the Seghettis turned to an equally unique source: the well-known film producer, entrepreneur and showman, Walt Disney. Though he passed away in 1966, Disney’s renowned approach to business and customer service lived on at the Walt Disney Company, and 20 years after his death, the Disney Institute was founded to pass those unique methodologies, best practices and business lessons on to other professionals.

Looking to pick up on these time-tested tips, Red Carpet has sent a number of employees to these programs over the years. “[Disney’s objective] is creating a show and an experience… for the customer,” says Maloof. “So we try to emulate some of the things they do.” For example, one of Disney’s philosophies—“Keep it clean, keep it friendly”—was taken and adapted by the company. “We added ‘keep it fast,’ because people don’t like to wait… Getting the car washed is one part of it; giving them a show and an experience as they come through is another part.”

Likewise, another aspect of the Red Carpet experience is right out of the Disney playbook. “Our idea of the ‘experience’ was something we thought everybody would have an interest in,” explains Roger Seghetti. “We started with the Jefferson Street location—acquiring old black-and-white [photographs] of the history of Peoria… [It’s] an experience for the customer, a way of passing the time while they’re getting their car washed.” Similarly, at the Glen and Knoxville locations, shots of the region by local photographers are on display and available for sale, offering a picturesque slice of Peoria with each visit.

Serving the Community
For many years, car washes were predominantly full-service—with employees scrubbing and polishing the inside and outside of your car to a glossy finish. Today, however, full service is quite nearly a thing of the past… but not at Red Carpet. “We offer what is now considered a unique service,” says Maloof. “We vacuum the inside of the vehicle, wipe down the dash [and] console, do the windows inside and out, anything the customer wants.”

With prices to serve all budgets, Red Carpet offers a range of services, from do-it-yourself washes to in-depth, detailed cleaning. The business’ success is reflected in a myriad of awards and recognitions, including Keep Peoria Beautiful’s Orchid Award, the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award, and industry recognition by the International Car Wash Association. “The awards are an acknowledgement of that… philosophy—to keep everything looking nice,” explains David Seghetti. “It’s an extension of our image. Our service is cleanliness, and well-manicured landscaping areas are an extension of cleanliness.”

Deeply rooted in the community, the family-run business also contributes to a variety of charities and not-for-profit organizations. “All of our customers participate in various charitable… organizations,” adds David. “It’s just part of knowing our customers [and] being involved locally.”

Indeed, Red Carpet Car Wash is run with the values of community and family in mind. “Of all the things I’ve done,” Walt Disney once said, “the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” After nearly half a century, the owners, management and employees of Red Carpet continue to exemplify that legacy, taking great pride in their community and their business. iBi

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