Andy Ryder (1992): From Ram to Mayor of Lacey
By Cortny Martin
Did you know that the Lacey Mayor and owner of Shur-Kleen Car Wash is a graduate of North Thurston High School? That’s right, we are talking about Andy Ryder. This North Thurston alumni also attended Lacey Elementary and Chinook Middle School where he gained skills in relationship building, politics and leadership all of which helped him become the person he is today.
Since Ryder was a young child he always wanted to be a leader. Politics were openly discussed in his family as his mother was a Republican and his father a Democrat. “This gave me a good spectrum of how politics worked as I got to hear from both sides,” explains Ryder. All through school Ryder took Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. In middle school he attended a career day where he met a local dentist who inspired him to go into dentistry. In high school Ryder was selected to attend The American Legion Evergreen Boys State. “This was a big honor for me to get selected,” said Ryder. “It gave me a chance to see how governance works.”
While attending North Thurston High School, Ryder participated in cross country, tennis, soccer, yearbook, was on the debate team and President of the ski club. The summer before his senior year, he attended a Jostens Yearbook Camp where he received first place on his theme, Around the World in 180 Days. “It was based off of this idea of each classroom being called a different country instead of just a number.” Due to his success at yearbook camp he was chosen to be Editor. A couple teachers stand out to Ryder as being very inspirational, Mrs. Dittrich who taught AP History and Mr. Booth who taught AP Physics. "Having teachers who believed in you and pushed you to your very best left a lasting impression that even though something might be difficult, accomplishing a challenging task makes it worth the struggle," said Ryder.
After high school Ryder attended Whitman College where he studied politics. He then decided to attend Creighton University School of Dentistry to become an Orthodontist. “I knew I wanted to go into some type of medical school and to help people,” explains Ryder. “I wanted to be an orthodontist because I enjoy seeing people happy and when they feel confident in their smile they can let that happiness shine through."
In 1985 the first Shur-Kleen Car Wash was opened by Andy’s mother and father, Shirley and Ron Ryder. This was the first car wash in Lacey and was family owned. When the business started to pick-up in the early 1990's and with more Shur-Kleen car washes opening in Olympia, Yelm and Bremerton, Andy was presented an opportunity in 1998 to either return to Dental School or purchase his own car wash in Lakewood, WA. "You never know when an amazing opportunity is going to show itself,” said Ryder. When the owner of a car wash in Lakewood offered to sell me his car wash directly without having to go to a bank for a loan, the ability to get into my first business at the age of 24 was just too good to pass up.” Now, Ryder owns 7 car washes throughout the South Puget Sound, including the first Public-Private Partnership on what is now Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Being the Mayor of Lacey, Ryder enjoys solving problems and helping people, “I hope that is why people get involved in politics to begin with,” Ryder states. “When I started, Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) seemed isolated from our community.” Ryder has been working rigorously on building that relationship between Lacey, JBLM, Nisqually Tribe, the Fire Districts and other jurisdictions. He wants to focus on the positive aspects Lacey has to offer such as family friendly amenities, North Thurston Public Schools Compassionate Community, being a great place to start a business and a plan to expand veteran services. “The key is building partnerships,” he adds.
In his “limited” free time, Ryder enjoys a good science fiction movie, frozen yogurt, skiing and taking family trips. He is also a big sports fan and has season tickets to the Seahawks, Sounders and many years with the Sonics and Mariners. He has a daughter, Josie who just turned 10 and his son Jesse graduated from North Thurston High School in 2012 making it the third generation to graduate from North Thurston after his mother Shirley in 1966 and Andy in 1992.
“Through all my experiences in school and life, my advice for future graduates of NTPS is to be confident and go after what you really want to do. Don’t be afraid of taking advantage of opportunities. Being the mayor and a business owner were all dreams I had. Believe you can achieve your dreams! And most importantly, give back to society when you can.”
Last Modified on Monday at 3:08 PM