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Business Operations

News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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California carwashes hit with legislative double whammy
California carwash operators are planning not only a minimum wage increase in 2007, but also new stringent employment laws directly pertaining to washes.

The Car Wash Worker Law will set standards for pay, hours and working conditions. According to state lawmakers, it protects more than 10,000 carwash workers statewide from dangerous working conditions and underpayment of wages.

The law requires registration for carwash owners and the creation of a Car Wash Worker Restitution Fund and the Car Wash Worker Fund.

California already has a law on the books which intends the same things, but the provisions were never enforced and the legislation will expire at the end of this year. This new law would be in effect for three years and is expected to be finalized this month.

Carwash operators also expect an increase in the minimum hourly wage by 75 cents, to $7.50, in January and an additional 50 cents on Jan. 1, 2008.

Paul Canepa, a carwash operator in Stockton, said he would pay $6 a day more in 2007 for each employee working an eight-hour shift under the increased minimum. With 20 employees on staff at his full-serve carwash each day, that equates to a daily increase of $120 in labor costs.

Carwash worker killed in SUV accident
A man accidentally killed his co-worker at Miracle Car Wash, a full-service wash, when he ran him over with a customer’s 2007 Mercedes SUV.

Reinaldo De Marios, 57, a dryer at the wash, was killed only two months before he was scheduled to return home to his wife and son in Brazil.

Gildasio Santos, 35, also from Brazil, was driving the vehicle when De Marios walked in front of the car.

DeMarios’ body was under the car for hours while police processed the scene. Firefighters took Santos to Boca Raton Community Hospital for mental trauma.

Police are investigating the accident.

From Alaska on down, WashUSA was a successful event
This year’s WashUSA event raised about $100,000, bringing the charity event’s total to more than $800,000 since its inception in 2002.

More than 400 carwashes, both large and small, raised money for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Scott Goodreau of the Golden Nozzle carwash chain in Springfield, MA, said he was able to wash more than 1,600 cars and donate $800 to the effort.

Smaller washes, like Splash & Dash Car Wash in Fairbanks, AK, were able to raise money, as well. “We were very excited about being able to run the fundraiser,” said Estelle Blalock of Splash & Dash.

For more information about WashUSA, visit the web page at

MasterCard promises card fee reforms
A move by MasterCard, which the company says will put a ceiling on fees gasoline retailers pay, has been met by cautious optimism by some in the industry. MasterCard said it would revamp some of the fees paid by banks and by merchants.

Many operators said MasterCard’s revisions probably wouldn’t help them much, since the ceiling would be on gasoline purchases of $50 or more and with retail gas prices dropping, customers would seldom reach that mark.

MasterCard, like other credit card services, charges merchants a fee based on the amount on the credit card. As gasoline prices shot up over the past year, retailers were forced to pay higher credit card fees, further eroding profit margins.

MasterCard is facing a lawsuit over some of its fees, and industry experts and advocates, such as the National Association of Convenience Stores, have appeared at Congressional hearings on the matter.

Powerain gets U.S. Air Force contract for carwash
Powerain Car Wash Systems has received a $300,000 contract to build a car and large vehicle wash for Minot Air Force Base, ND.

Powerain is owned by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.

The contract calls for the company to refurbish an existing facility to handle a wide range of vehicles and sizes and gives Powerain a first step into the government market.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Home Depot moves in on GA market
The Home Depot has opened its first Home Depot Fuel convenience store, gas station and carwash in Georgia. The newest Home Depot Fuel location boasts a 2,700-square-foot convenience store, a filling station and a carwash. It is the third Fuel site for the company.

The in-bay automatic carwash at the Acworth site was designed to handle large pickup trucks and vans. The carwash, like the convenience store, is supposed to appeal to contractors.

The Acworth location and two Tennessee sites are part of a new concept being tested by the company. Based on their success, the company will decide whether to expand the c-store concept to new markets.

The Home Depot projects that each Fuel location, including the new Acworth store, will have revenue of $5 million to $7 million per year.