Picture a manager for a car wash location, and this might not be the image that comes to mind.
But these five women – and many of their colleagues – prove that with the right mindset and culture, females are just as likely to grow into outstanding leaders in this industry.
Currently, five women hold the role of site manager at Sioux Falls Silverstar Car Wash locations.
And while their backgrounds vary, their bottom line is the same: This is the place to work for women seeking leadership opportunities.
“I think I’ve hit every single role here,” said Erika Bamsey, who leads the location at 69th Street and Louise Avenue.
She began in 2020 as a part-time cashier after leaving a career as a bartender and bar manager.
“A Silverstar site manager came into the bar and grill I was managing and said if I ever get sick of working until 2 a.m., here’s my card,” she said. “So I just thought about it and did it.”
Within a short time, she’d been promoted – repeatedly.
“If you want to grow and better yourself within the company, they see that, and they’ll work with you to get you there,” Bamsey said. “If you have the right mindset, you realize as a site manager you’re running a multimillion-dollar establishment, and there’s a lot of responsibility. We oversee the equipment and the staffing. There’s a lot that goes into it, but I love the people I work with.”
That’s a common theme too.
“It’s a family-like atmosphere at each location. We work closely with our team and are very tight knit. It’s never felt like working for a big corporation, and I really enjoy that,” said Natalie Strobel, who manages the 41st Street and Ellis Road location and joined Silverstar more than three years ago after responding to a hiring ad following a career in everything from warehousing to office work and retail.
“I was the best decision I could have made,” she said. “When I came on board, I knew I wanted to move up within the company, so I worked hard to prove myself to my site manager.”
Two months into her career, she was promoted to assistant manager. One week before her one-year anniversary, she became a site manager.
“I also love being able to learn so many new things,” Strobel said. Before Silverstar, I was never one to fix things or be remotely interested in anything mechanical. While I am far from a maintenance pro, I definitely take pride in all of the repairs I have learnt how to do. Working here has really helped push me to break the mold I set for myself before.”
The Silverstar career path also delivered multiple promotions for Katie Swenson, who began as a cashier and now is the site manager at 57th Street and Marion Road.
“I’ve been promoted three times in the last two years, and it’s really motivated me to do my best,” she said. “Not only have I expanded my knowledge of the car wash industry and management skills, but I’ve matured personally, and that’s really helped me get where I am today – along with training and the mentors I’ve had within the company.”
Dajana Cicvara, who came to Silverstar last year with prior management experience, is a multisite manager leading locations on 12th Street and on Graystone Avenue. She recently was promoted to district manager.
“I joined as an external site manager and had to learn a lot,” she said.
“All the managers here taught me things mechanically, and I discovered a lot about myself as a person and grew myself as a manager. Being an external hire, I also brought ideas that had worked for me at other companies, and the amazing thing at Silverstar is that they want to hear your ideas. It’s a company that listens and hears the employees out and makes changes where needed and adapts well to changes.”
Growing into leadership
All Silverstar, site managers have a family-like dynamic, but the women are especially close, Bamsey said.
“We always have each others’ backs,” she said. “If something at one of their sites has an issue, we have a group text, and we can help each other. We really, really support each other. And while it’s not super common in this industry for women to be car wash managers, being a female site manager at Silverstar is not anything anyone wouldn’t be able to handle. They don’t treat you any different, and they create a close environment right at the beginning.”
The atmosphere at Silverstar is empowering, Strobel added.
“It’s a company that constantly pushes you to challenge and better yourself, personally and professionally,” she said. “As a woman working at a car wash, I’ve always felt nothing but support from my colleagues and higher-ups. The opportunities here are endless. Not only do we have full benefits, we have amazing team members that make the day go by with a breeze.”
Cicvara remembers her regional manager encouraging her to step up working on a project shortly after she was hired.
“She made me feel really comfortable,” she said. “She really empowers the women at this company to do everything the guys do, and that’s important. Everyone here is seen as an equal, and it’s such a diverse workplace. This company believes anyone can make it as long as you put in the effort and dedication.”
There are no stereotypes here, Swenson added.
“It’s very comforting that Silverstar is able to see people for their true potential,” she said “The people in this company are some of the hardest-working, most loyal people I’ve met in my life. The atmosphere they’ve created here at Silverstar is phenomenal. They welcomed me in with open arms on my first day, and I’ve felt comfortable ever since.”
It’s a culture that’s firm, fair and a lot of fun, Bamsey added.
“That’s what brought me here and kept me here. I don’t think I could go anywhere else and literally just have fun at work. It doesn’t feel like work.”
Are you ready to make this the year you grow your career at Silverstar? Click here to learn more about current opportunities.