Lonnie and Chris Folsom have worked together to build a collection of west Fort Worth businesses.
Fort Worth is kind to local business owners. Despite its distinction as the 16th-largest city in the country, Fort Worth has maintained a widespread fidelity to homegrown businesses that one typically only finds in smaller communities. Whether this is due to local pride or the persistence of the communal spirit, one thing is certain: many people choose their neighbor’s businesses simply because they present the highest level of goods and services.
All of these traits come together in the multiple businesses of one Fort Worth couple: Lonnie and Chris Folsom, whose entrepreneurship sets the standard for eclecticism. The couple has two primary businesses, Q Speed Wash and You Name It Design & Embroidery, along with a sign rental business (TexasSignRentals.com) and a mobile photo booth (SnapshotParties.com).
The secret of their success — along with their ability to juggle so many balls — hinges on one source: a loving and committed partnership. A chance encounter made it all possible:
“A friend of mine had a sign shop,” says Lonnie, “and I happened to be there one day when Chris came in. She was assisting him with some embroidery. The two of us met, and the rest is history.”
Lonnie got his start while living in Minnesota, where he also first gained exposure to the car wash business. A lucrative patent turned into a manufacturing company, the sale of which led to an early — and brief — retirement.
“I had patented the fluorescent letter black sign back in 1995,” says Lonnie. “I sold my manufacturing company in 2008, then moved down to Texas and briefly retired.”
Not content to sit idle, Lonnie accepted a position as general manager for a local car wash. An encounter with another businessman, Viran Nana, led to the creation of the first Q Speed Wash at 9521 Clifford Street in Fort Worth. A second location followed in Benbrook, while a third is forthcoming at the intersection of Alta Mere and Elizabeth.
Of course, nothing is one-sided in marriage, and Lonnie’s wife has had her own success. Chris Folsom first picked up embroidery two decades ago. Little did she expect that her hobby would one day turn into Fort Worth’s premier custom embroidery design business.
“I first started doing embroidery out of my home,” says Chris. “I did it just for families and friends, and it grew from there. I was having too many people come to the house, so I decided to get a storefront.”
The sale of a horse funded the purchase of her first machine, and Chris opened her studio in 2008. Her work expanded from embroidery to include screen printing and rhinestone work, and clients can now get custom designs on everything from t-shirts and shorts, to bags, caps and workwear.
Hard work, dedication and partnership have provided the fuel to build the Folsom’s businesses; but the couple credits the community around them for their overall success. When asked about Fort Worth’s support of local business, Lonnie does not hesitate with his answer.
“I would describe it as exceptional, the Fort Worth community and economy both,” he says. “When I moved here, the economy elsewhere had been hit very hard, but here things were vibrant. What’s impressed me the most about Fort Worth is the dedication of customers who return to local businesses.”
Lonnie uses the success of Q Speed Wash to illustrate this fact.
“We average thousands of cars a month,” says Lonnie, “because of repeat business. I think it’s because we do a great job and have great service, but the loyalty of customers here is unbelievable. Chris also has many customers that return again and again.”
To Chris, the loyalty of those who live in Fort Worth comes as no surprise. She’s lived here all of her life, and cites Fort Worth’s “down-home feeling” as representative of the city’s character and source of appeal to transplants.
“Fort Worth isn’t fast-paced unless you want it to be,” says Chris. “That’s what has kept me here: if you want the faster pace, you can get plugged into the right circles, and still not lose that down-home feel.”