At the age of ten, Taylor Irwin had her first job at the family business that would one day become the cornerstone of her entrepreneurial journey. After school and on weekends, she and her brother would head to Rocky Mountain Car Wash in Pinedale, Wyoming, to count quarters and tokens and clean out the mud-caked bays. “It was like playing in the mud all the time,” she recalls. “I hated every second of it.”
Things have changed a lot since then. Rocky Mountain Car Wash has grown to encompass eight locations in Wyoming. Taylor, 27, is now the company’s COO, a position that she grew into after a summer working at the family business (as an adult!) turned into a full time gig. It’s a role that “I didn’t realize that I would become so invested and find something about the car washes that I loved,” she says.
Like many young entrepreneurs who take the lead in running a family operation, Taylor’s challenge was transforming an “old economy” business into one that takes full advantage of new technology, branding, and marketing — tasks that fellow YEC’ers have helped her accomplish.
“When I came back, in 2013, my parents had just purchased property for our seventh location, but Rocky Mountain Carwash didn’t even have a website,” Irwin recalls. The car washes were attracting everyone from drivers for big oil and gas companies to soccer moms, yet the company didn’t have an online presence or consistent branding, and wasn’t verified on Google.
Irwin set about fixing all that, but soon found that her father had other tasks for her as well, like streamlining the company’s inventory and managing the supply chain. Before she knew it, he was sending her out to spend some time managing each car wash location, so that she could get a feel for the business before she finally took over the operation in 2015.
Shortly after that, Taylor says, YEC came into play. “I started reaching out to other leaders and they said, ‘you really ought to join something like YEC.’”
When everything that happens within the business, whether it succeeds or fails, is entirely up to you, meeting other people who share that burden or that opportunity, was huge.
When she was considering buying the third party app that activates the car washes, Taylor turned to YEC’s online forum for advice. Several members, including Ian Blair (BuildFire) and Thomas Smale (FE International), weighed in on the pros and cons and in the end, she decided against the acquisition. Getting up to speed on an entirely new industry “would have probably taken a lot of time away from Rocky Mountain Car Wash and what we're building,” she says.
Other members have helped Taylor as well. “Dan Golden (BFO) taught me all about custom audiences on Facebook,” she says, “and Erik Huberman gave me some great marketing advice at Escape (the annual YEC retreat) and his company is now my outsourced CMO.”
Taylor envisions growing Rocky Mountain Car Wash to 20 locations and says she’ll tap into YEC for advice as she strives to reach that goal. “When I stepped into my new role of running operations, it was a bit lonely at times because I felt like no one in my inner circle really understood some of the things that I was going through, besides obviously my dad and mom. But sometimes you want to ask advice from someone who’s outside the business. So for me the value [of YEC] has been being connected with other like minded individuals who share the same type of mentality of growing, always learning, and constant progress.”