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Gentle Wash cleans up in West Haven

Back in the mid-1990s, Delashone White made money washing and detailing cars from the back of his apartment. Then he moved to Dallas and discovered mobile wash services were popular there. “I went to visit some friends and learned about the whole mobile thing,” he said. “It’s a really big thing down south.”

After a year in Dallas, he was struggling to raise his daughters and run a business. The mobile wash concept had yet to hit Chicago, so he decided to move back home and bring the idea here. “I saw an opportunity,” he recalled. By August 1998 he had pulled together a van, equipment and a client base for Gentle Wash Mobile Detail. But he needed more capital to take his business to the next level.

Photo: Mike Quinlan

Gentle Wash Mobile Detail owner Delashone White obtained a $5,000 loan from the United Center Economic Development Fund.

With the help of Earnest Gates and NCP lead agency the Near West Side Community Development Corp., White obtained a $5,000 loan from the United Center Economic Development Fund, which he used for uniforms and advertising. That loan, combined with plenty of hustle, helped him grow.

“I would hit anywhere that had a fleet of cars – just start handing out fliers and putting them on cars in the neighborhoods,” he said. “People were impressed with my work and referred me to their friends.”

To build a year-round business, White has added snow removal and minor road repairs like battery jumps to his repertoire of services. “I’m usually busy,” he said. “There’s always something that needs to be done.”

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