Blue Equity recently announced it has formalized an investment and partnership with Cheetah Clean Auto Wash, a Bowling Green, Kentucky-based chain of car washes.

The Louisville-based independent private equity firm, led by Chairman Jonathan Blue, will provide Cheetah Clean Auto Wash with additional growth capital, human capital, back-office support, advisement on geographic expansion, involvement in governmental affairs, marketing support as well as many other items, according to a news release.

Details about how much the firm is investing were not disclosed, but the release did note it was “significant.”

In a phone interview Friday, Edward Harrison, executive vice president of business development at Blue Equity, told me the company had been looking to make an investment in the car wash sector for some time.

“The unit economics, macroeconomics all make a lot of sense,” he said. “There’s a lack of optionality within Kentucky, and we’re excited to hopefully bring additional units to the state that provide premium service for many years to come.”

Cheetah Clean has five locations in Bowling Green, Owensboro and Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The acquisition will significantly accelerate Cheetah Clean Auto Wash’s expansion in Kentucky and elsewhere and will provide both capital and significant resources to the existing team, the release continued.

“We are excited to team up with such experienced and savvy local Kentucky based business leaders like Jonathan Blue, Edward Harrison and the Blue Equity team,” said Jeff Fields, founder and CEO of Cheetah Clean Auto Wash. “This newly formed partnership not only strengthens our balance sheet but also brings adept skillsets, alliances, and legitimacy for our growth initiatives to take place.”

Harrison said Blue was also drawn to Fields, noting that it was apparent from the start that Fields and his team were running a high-quality operation with professional business services.

“We are excited to partner with Jeff Fields and Cheetah Clean Auto Wash,” Blue said in the release. “The company is led by a tremendously experienced CEO and offers best-in-class service that we are thrilled to bring to new, existing and future customers across Kentucky and beyond.

“Our goal will be to assist in growing the brands footprint while supporting the existing team with their needs going forward. With multiple future sites already under contract, we anticipate significant growth within our footprint in the near future.”

Harrison said the company is negotiating on a few greenfield sites and other sites-by-acquisition, but didn’t offer any specifics on when we might see a Cheetah Clean location in Louisville.

“We will look to continue to expand over the next couple of years, but all over the state — not just Louisville and Lexington or Bowling Green where [Cheetah Clean’s] headquarters is. Just like Liquor Barn, we hope to be able to serve all Kentucky.”

In 2021, Blue Equity sold Liquor Barn and Party Mart to online retailer GoPuff, which sells and delivers numerous products to consumers. That deal, for which the two parties declined to disclose the value, helped expand the retailer’s footprint in Kentucky and Blue still involved with the company.

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