Business brings lube to the people

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Carson City resident Josh Stewart thought he had a unique business proposition with his roving automotive lube service. But even before starting, he has attracted competitors.

"Nobody heard of this three months ago," he said. "Now everybody wants to do it."

Stewart's newfangled business -- aptly named Oil Express -- opens at the beginning of next month. Instead of a storefront like Jiffy Lube or Lube Express, everything Stewart needs to perform lube services for customers' cars is self contained in his van, from an oil-sucking pump to a cellular-powered credit card reader.

The idea, he said, is to take away the inconvenience of waiting at lube shops and garages by bringing the oil service to the customers' homes or businesses.

"I was thinking with my roommate, 'What would be a great idea for this area? Something reusable, something everybody needs to get done on a regular basis," he said. "I thought 'You know what? An oil changing business that comes to you -- nobody does it in Carson City.'"

With a little research, Stewart realized the idea was actually fairly popular on the East Coast. The oil-sucking pump he invested in is built specifically for mobile applications. And locally, he started to see business licenses pop up for similar entrepreneurial ventures in Carson City and Reno.

"I have to get the word out fast," he said, eluding to the potential competition. "I didn't think other people would try to do this."

Stewart's operating philosophy is to keep the business simple. While he will offer other services like transmission and power steering fluid service, the bulk of his jobs will be oil-lube service.

He said pricing will be flexible depending on the customers. Most will be charged $39.95 for a Valvoline oil and filter change. Seniors get a discounted price of $34.95 and he will also offer group discounts for fleet vehicles. A customer with 10 vehicles, for example, will be discounted up to $10 off the base price. With four oil-lube services, the fifth is free within 13 months, he said.

"My research pretty much inspired me to accept credit cards, Mastercard, Visa, and ATM debit cards," he said. "It can all be done with a cellular card reader."

The service takes approximately a half hour. Oil express' hours will be Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays by appointment. Stewart said he will also offer a scheduling service for repeat customers.

"Right now it is a sole proprietorship," Stewart said. "Depending on the outcome, my goal is to have three service vehicles in Carson City. If I can get an eighth of the oil-changing service in town, it would be enough work for three vehicles."

For information on Oil Express call Stewart at 232-1755.


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