New Car Wash Owner Turns Business into Place of Opportunity for Youth

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Oscar Cota along with his family, employees and representatives of the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. Cota bought Rick's Car Wash in May. (Photos by Michael Kane)

Most of us would look at Rick’s Car Wash in Hermiston as a place to wash your vehicle.

But for new owner Oscar Cota, it’s much more than that.

“It’s a place of opportunity,” he said. Cota and his wife, Allainna Abbott, purchased the car wash, located on the east side of Main Street, in May from Rick Jewett. Since then, Cota has given jobs to numerous young people for whom finding work can be a challenge.

“They’re just kids who need some guidance,” Cota said. “Maybe they come from a troubled home or a broken family. I just started talking to them and seeing if I could steer them in the right direction.”

Hard-working Oscar Cota wipes down a customer’s car Thursday morning.

Cota, 43, has a history of working with young kids. He’s coached Grid Kids football, Little League as well as high school students. He said everybody, regardless of their past, deserves a chance.

“Just because a kid gets in some trouble doesn’t mean they are bad kids,” he said. “Everyone is subject to change.”

During the hot summer months, Cota hires about a dozen kids – including his own – to work at the car wash, some as young as 15. Now that the weather is cooling, he cuts it back to about five or six youth.

“A lot of kids come by and make this their first job,” he said.

As a kid, Cota remembers seeing the car wash when he would hang out at a nearby baseball field. Later on, he got a job at the car wash.

“I said to myself that some day it was going to be mine,” he said. “Sure enough, I worked hard and when the opportunity came along, I jumped on it.”

He and his wife are both the first people in their families to own a business. On Thursday, Cota and Abbott proudly welcomed friends and family to a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.

Cota said he never considered changing the name to Oscar’s Car Wash.

“Everybody knows it as Rick’s Car Wash,” Cota said. “It’s a piece of Hermiston history.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Right on nephew congratulations yes you are the first one in our family to own their own business. Proud of you nephew. I know you’re dad would of been proud of you too.

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