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Crew Carwash, a popular chain in Indianapolis that was formerly known as Mike's Carwash, plans to open its first Northwest Indiana location next week in Merrillville, but is looking to make an even bigger splash across the Region.

The car wash chain, known around central Indiana for its coupon booklets and consistent rankings as a top workplace, is opening a $4.5 million car wash at 501 W. 81st Ave. in Merrillville, in front of Meijer.

The facility will employ 20 people, have an eco-friendly water reclamation system that reuses water while washing cars, and have 12 self-serve vacuum stalls.

"We look at traffic counts, and Merrillville had exactly what we we're looking for," Crew Carwash Executive Vice President Sally Grant said. "We look for cars, because that means a lot of dirty vehicles."

The 68-year-old company was founded in Fort Wayne, but most of its 27 locations are now in Central Indiana. Crew Carwash is in the process of adding new locations in Avon and Bloomington and has big expansion plans in Northwest Indiana. 

Crew Carwash is actively looking for sites across Northwest Indiana, including in Schererville, Hammond, Highland and Valparaiso.

"We rely a lot on traffic counts and households," Grant said.

"We also like to be by big box retailers. Getting your car washed is more of an impulse, something you do while shopping. You don't necessarily set out of your house looking to wash your car."

The newcomer will face a lot of competition in the Northwest Indiana market, with many rivals that hone in on low price points.

Hobart-based gas station chain Luke Oil has $5 car washes, while Valparaiso-based convenience store chain Family Express has $4 car washes. There also are established local chains such as Soft Touch, Drive & Shine, East Clean, and Aqua Express, formerly $3 Car Wash.

Crew Carwash seeks to differentiate itself by being fast and convenient, and offering friendly customer service, Grant said. The chain also has buy-four-get-one-free car washes, and a program where people can get unlimited car washes for $19 a month.

"We use the highest quality soaps and detergents," she said. "We leave cars spotless and dry with our 4 million BTU heaters. The wait is minimal, we get customers in and out fast."

Prices range from $9 to $20 for car washes.

"We will be flooding the area with free car washes next week," Grant said. "When customers try our services, we get repeat business."

Crew Car Wash will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

For more information visit crewcarwash.com or call (219) 525-6694.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.