In beautiful Heerjansdam, I met Raymond Lagendijk, owner of Auto Beauty Center Larocar. In the eighties, Larocar was the first brushless car wash in the Netherlands. What they do now you can read here.
Family business from Rockanje
Larocar stands for LAgendijk and ROckanje, the place where it all started almost fifty years ago. Raymond’s father started a car company in 1974. After a few years, it became more of a Tectyl company. Treating cars against rust was the core business. At the end of the seventies, the company moved to Heerjansdam.Larocar stands for LAgendijk and ROckanje, the place where it all started almost fifty years ago. Raymond’s father started a car company in 1974. After a few years, it became more of a Tectyl company. Treating cars against rust was the core business. At the end of the seventies, the company moved to Heerjansdam.
From anti-corrosion treatment to cleaning company
When in the eighties cars already received an anti-rust treatment in the factory, the tectyling became more and more obsolete. Consequently, Larocar gradually became more of a car cleaning company. Since 1997, the company has been based in its current premises. With this transition, a gas station was also added. And so did the shop, which Raymond’s mother kept running.
Crisis at the gas station
Ten years later, the fuel world was in crisis. At the time, Raymond was working for another employer where he was doing well. In 2008, Raymond made the step and took over his father’s company. He soon found out that the fuel market did not appeal to him. He was not able to put his commercial drive to good use there. This was one of the reasons why he closed the gas station and the shop a few years later. This enabled him to focus completely on washing and polishing and to take those services to a higher level.
Cartec products in Heerjansdam
Of course I am curious how Raymond came to discover Cartec and he tells me: “In the beginning, I was not so tied to suppliers. In my first years, a lot of attention was paid to the shop. Cleaning was not a high priority, so we used and tried out many brands.”
Raymond started with the Cartec Glass Cleaner and the Cartec All Purpose Cleaner. “One day, a salesman walked in and did his job properly. Someone from Cartec had taken the plunge. There was a match and he came up with good products. One thing led to another and now almost everything we use comes from Cartec’s laboratory.”
With Marcel, the Cartec dealer of Auto Beauty Center
Coating, glass coating and nanocoating at Larocar
The entrepreneur knows very well the benefits of Cartec:“The support is excellent. Always accessible, the communication lines are short and a solution is always sought if necessary. I am happy with the look of the marketing items and of course with the products.”
At Auto Beauty Center, coatings have been used for a long time.“At first, we used another brand. But there we had to figure everything out ourselves. In the end, we followed a training course at Cartec and switched to Ceramic Guard. I think it’s a beautiful product.”
Cars protected with paraffin
Raymond grew up in the trade. In the old days, the cars that came out of the factory were covered with a protective layer: paraffin. This had to be removed before the car was sold.“I spent whole days rinsing the cars with hot water and petrol. Then they were polished. I did this for about ten years during my studies, from the age of twelve.” explains Raymond.
Brushless car wash in Heerjansdam
In the meantime, it has grown into a beautiful company. The brushless car wash is still a hit in Heerjansdam and the surrounding area. The cars are rinsed, foamed up and thoroughly washed by hand. Then the car drives under the roll-over where it is rinsed with water and Royal Shine. After that, it is dried and, if necessary, driven on to the polishing centre for a beautiful treatment.
A working day at Auto Beauty Center Larocar
It soon becomes clear to me that this man is a hard worker. He is not bored for a day and lists his activities in a single breath;“I am in charge of the staff, purchasing and sales, marketing, administration and bookkeeping. And of course I also clean cars. Because that has always been my hobby.”
Most working days are pretty hectic. There are times when the phone is ringing off the hook. “This week, there was a customer who wanted a coating. And it had to be done in a couple of days. I work through the evenings. In one day, I polished the car with the Refinish 3000 and the Refinish 9000. Then I cleaned the interior, and then it was the turn of the Ceramic Guard coating. It dried overnight and was ready for delivery the next morning. Normally we do this in two or three day” It is therefore no surprise that Raymond is looking for young and dynamic cleaners to add to his team.
Working in the car wash
What makes Raymond’s work even more enjoyable besides cleaning is taking good care of his staff. “The boys have many privileges and fringe benefits. If you work well for me, I take good care of you. If it is in balance, it is good. And I like that ‘game’.”
Car polishers are critical of their work, and that is good and necessary.“It has to be perfect. If you open a clean car and see dirty pedals, that’s not okay. But being critical of yourself is perhaps a lesson for life, for everyone.”
That is why he wants young people in his team, whom he can teach.“Here you start and learn from scratch. First you wash the car, and if that goes well, you learn the next step. From flawlessly completing the S-treatment to a XXXL-treatment. And finally to the application of the Ceramic Guard coating.”
The wall with the various treatments offered by Larocar.
The future of Larocar
Raymond has been in the business, with a break, for almost thirty years. How does he see the future? “My dream is that this will continue. I would like to see more activity here and for people to find us even better.”
The company has a positive reputation in the area. Larocar is increasingly distinguishing itself in terms of quality.“It costs a little, but then it is good. And if something is not right, customers can always come back.”
With these wise words, we end our conversation. We do another round of car washes and then Raymond goes back to work. Painting the rims gold for a good customer. And I don’t think he’ll sleep until he’s finished.