American car wash legend William ‘Red’ Lewis passed away

William ‘Red’ Lewis was a legend in the car wash industry and not only in America. He is considered to be the inventor of the car wash where contactless washing was done. Lewis was 78 years old.

William ‘Red’ Lewis was a legend of the car wash industry. His company, PDQ Carwash, was in the top 20 of best car washes in America. With the invention of the Laserwash 4000 system, Lewis started his success story of contactless car washing.

Impressive life

After a difficult time at school, William Lewis, born in 1942, began his professional life on a PDQ car wash in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1967 he worked his way up to manager of the factory and in 1974 he bought the company. With great personal commitment, innovative ideas and a passion for customer service, he built eight full-service car washes in Northeast Wisconsin, eventually placing his company in the top 20 car washes in the US.

An obituary from the local Green Bay press shows how his path to contactless car washing began. One day, Lewis would have looked through the bills for broken antennas and scratched mirrors. It was then that he came up with the idea of ​​no longer washing by hand or with rotating brushes. In 1984 he founded PDQ Manufacturing Inc. and together with a New Zealand company he developed the contactless car wash system Laserwash 4000. In the years that followed, PDQ Manufacturing became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of car wash systems with customers in more than 30 countries. In 2000, William ‘Red’ Lewis was inducted into the International Car Wash Association (ICA) Car Wash Hall of Fame.

Lifelong dream

In addition to his business success, he was devoted to the young people of his home country and to charities. His greatest dream was to create something that would last his life. He succeeded in this in 2016 with the opening of the Automobile Gallery & Event Center, a high-quality car showroom in Green Bay.

The Laserwash 4000 has retired. The machine has been succeeded by the Laserwash 360 (see photo).

Author: Rieneke Kok

Rieneke is editor for She also writes for the Dutch version,

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