Big changes are underway at the local Kemna automotive campus. As part of a major expansion of the company's presence in Fort Dodge, Carey Kemna has launched Express Lube of Fort Dodge on the corner of First Avenue South and 25th Street.
The enterprise is part of the huge nationwide network of 850 Valvoline franchises. Carey Kemna owns the Fort Dodge outlet.
This new local service venue, which opened its doors March 28, has a straightforward mission.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Carey Kemna, owner of the Express Lube of Fort Dodge, poses in front of the newly opened business at South 25th Street and First Avenue South. The franchise features Valvoline brand products.
"We sell convenience," said Brandon Bartolo, who manages the facility. "That's our main thing here. We are an oil change quick lube with a car wash. It's 15 minutes for a full-service oil change."
Bartolo brings five years of Valvoline experience to the Fort Dodge operation. He managed a Valvoline store in Aberdeen, S.D., before being recruited by the Kemnas to join their world just over a year ago.
Speed is a key part of the Valvoline experience, but there's more to the story.
"It includes our checking all the fluids, checking the tires, checking the lights, differential boxes down underneath," Bartolo said. "All within 15 minutes. No appointment is necessary."
The decision to become part of the Valvoline system was based on a careful evaluation of options, Carey Kemna said.
"They are a proven leader in quick service," he explained. "Obviously, Valvoline Oil has been around for a long time. It's a quality oil with some of the best warranty coverages in the business. They are a proven leader in their process with training and development and customer service. We really bought into the entire business model Valvoline offers for making that whole process convenient and efficient."
The Valvoline approach is designed to make the service encounter easy for the customer.
"You can stay in your car to get your vehicle serviced," Kemna said. "You pull in, stay in your car, play with your iPhone or whatever."
Having the customer remain in the vehicle is in sync with Valvoline's emphasis on vehicle maintenance that is fully aboveboard.
"It's 100 percent transparent," Kemna said. "When we go through your vehicle, you see everything we do. It kind of takes me back to my grandfather's days in Bancroft when people would stand by their vehicle and talk to the mechanics when they serviced the vehicle. Here, literally, you are talking to the mechanics. They are showing you the air filter. They are showing you the oil that is going into your vehicle. They are showing you the serpentine belt. There's nothing that we are ever going to pull over your eyes."
He said this approach addresses the reservations some potential clients have about fast-service outlets.
"I think a lot of times that's a real big question that people have with quick services - that they are going to get taken," Kemna said. "We're 100 percent transparent."
Express Lube of Fort Dodge features three service bays for oil changes and tire rotations. Kemna said the eight-person staff can process a large number of clients in a short time. That means little or no time spent waiting to be served.
"We can do up to 15 oil changes an hour," he said. "Fifteen quick services an hour.
"We do a lot more services than oil changes," Bartolo said. "We'll do transmission flushes, coolant flushes, power steering flushes, wiper blades, air filters - pretty much any light maintenance."
The facility also features a speedy car wash.
"The No. 1 complaint on a car wash is it takes too long to wait in line," Kemna said. "Especially when it's a nice day, everybody wants to wash their car. The thing that is spectacular about our car wash is you are not going to wait in line. You might see six or seven vehicles out there, but in five minutes six or seven vehicles are going to be through there. It is extremely quick."
Some folks are intimidated by unmanned automated car washes. Kemna said his establishment addresses that concern.
"This place is manned when the car wash is open. They are going to guide you in. They are going to show you where to pay and they are going to help you get through it. They are going to take care of you."
Kemna said car wash passports are being marketed. He described the passports as a subscription service that allows unlimited washes per month for a set fee.
For anyone who still has unused coupons from Ron's Car Wash, a longtime local business purchased by the Kemnas in 2013, those coupons will be honored at this car wash, Carey Kemna said.
Express Lube of Fort Dodge is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. In addition to providing an array of options for individuals it has an assortment of service plans for businesses with vehicle fleets.
Kemna has a succinct message for potential customers.
"We're honest," he said. "We're hard-working. We're fast. We're thorough and very well-trained."
Bartolo echoed that sentiment.
"We are professional, friendly and courteous," he said noting also that prices of all the services his team provides are very competitive.