By Thembelani Mkhize
American humourist Josh Billings once said, “There are people who mistake their imagination for their memory”. I’m not really sure how that quote relates to my next article but I always like picking people’s brains with a little witty borrowed intelligence.
I’ve been going up and down the R103 past Midmar Dam and Reserve and Fern Hill Hotel for more than 20 years now and never once did I imagine someone opening a car wash right there. The Farm Fresh Car Wash, owned by Henry Ngcobo, is a perfect example of how far a little imagination can go.
It is nestled between Fern Hill and a local petrol station and store which is affectionately known as the Everything Shop. The property belongs to Henry’s father, Vava Ngcobo, who was happy to hear that both he and I were from Impendle.
Vava let Henry use the plot to open the small business there in February this year. The Farm Fresh car wash is open daily from Monday to Friday, from 8am till 6pm, depending on how busy it is.
The first time we drove past and saw it, I thought to myself, ‘who uses a car wash in this area’; but when I arrived at Lion’s River at Thokan’s garage and saw a dirty Hilux, I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe there is a market for a place to get your car cleaned around here”.
After a visit and look at their price list I discovered that double cabs were top of the list at R60 for a full wash. This made it clear that their main target was the nearby farmers and smallholders, followed by taxi drivers and commuters who use the R103, with prices from R50 for a small car.
Their other service includes a wash and go, interior vacuum cleaning and bakkie bin cleaning, which range from R20 to R30. Henry says, “unlike your conventional urban area car washes, ours takes into consideration that we are situated near the farms, so we offer a special for cars that allows drivers to come back for a free wash if they had used the car wash earlier that day”.
This is to ensure that the customers’ car stays clean throughout the day, even after travelling on dirt roads.
One of Henry’s employees, Mako, says the car wash is getting a good reaction, especially on weekends. We caught him in the middle of washing two cars for regular customers who were genuinely happy with the results they got from Mako’s services.
Keeping with the farm theme the car wash boasts a variety of aloe trees and other flowers which create a relaxing atmosphere. Apart from the car wash, Henry’s father keeps livestock on the same land and says he would love to encourage young people to learn how to work the land and sustain their families.
Henry is looking to grow his business one step at a time, and will gather the essentials, bit by bit, such as adding electricity and stalls for artists.
His story is a good example of a family which supports the dreams and aspirations of its youngsters, allowing them the opportunity to follow their imagination, no matter how old they are.
Future plans are to host arts and crafts stalls at the weekend and give local artists and craftsmen a chance to showcase their talents and sell products to passing drivers and car wash customers.
Email Thembelani Mkhize at: firstname.lastname@example.org