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News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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Crime wave jolts carwash industry
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the economy, maybe it was for no measurable reason, but carwashes across the nation were victimized in unusually high numbers during November and December.

In one comedic example, a man was spotted by police prying open the coin box to the vacuum machine at a self-serve carwash in Toledo, OH. The suspect took off in a dump truck, and police were forced to follow him as he weaved in and out of busy commuter traffic.

In California, the scene was much uglier when a customer at Middletown Carwash was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to drive to a casino, where the suspect then forced the victim out of the car.

In Boyden, IA, the Lil’ Bugger Car Wash was vandalized for the third time in 11 years. While the only thing stolen from the carwash was about $20 in quarters, the owner of the wash estimated the damage at $500.

Other burglaries occurred in Kansas City, KS; Manitowac, WI; Columbia, SC; and Duncan, KS. One international case involved teenage vandals in Scotland who set fire to an in-bay automatic carwash.

In Kansas City, MO, two men were charged with rape and kidnapping after they abducted a woman from Big Bay Car Wash and assaulted her.

The report did not specify if Big Bay Car Wash is self-serve, automatic or full-serve, or if the wash was equipped with its own surveillance system.

In a similar case, a man was sentenced to 45 years in jail for a sexual assault that occurred after he kidnapped a 16-year-old girl from a Rock Hill, SC, self-serve carwash that was located across from her high school.

In that case, the victim was forced into the trunk of the man’s car and driven to a neighboring county, where she was sexually assaulted. Her attacker was found after DNA matched him to another rape.

Mace sells washes, releases 4th quarter results
Mace Security International, Inc. has signed two agreements to sell three carwashes in Pennsylvania and one carwash in New Jersey for a total of $7,770,000 in cash.

The washes are located in Bryn Mawr, Norristown, and Flourtown, PA and Cherry Hill, NJ, and are all full-service locations.

Last month, Mace sold a wash in Dallas, TX, for $1.85 million. The company is still seeking to sell its remaining carwashes, several of which are located in the Northeast.

The four Northeast carwashes being sold are at a price approximately $1.57 million above the recorded net book value of approximately $6.2 million.

The transactions are expected to close within approximately three months. Earlier this year, Mace cancelled a deal to sell its Arizona carwashes, after the company it was selling the washes to was unable to raise funding.

Mace again posted losses in its carwash and truck wash segments for the third quarter of the year. Total revenues for Mace’s third quarter were down by $4 million, primarily due to a decrease in revenues from the company’s car and truck washes.

Revenues from those businesses were down 11 percent, or $2.8 million in the first nine months of 2006 compared to the first nine months of 2005.

Minimum wage hikes across the nation
Anna and Rob Farringtown, owners of Whitehall Custom Car Wash, estimate they’ll have to raise the price of a wash by 50 cents in order to pay their 10 employees higher wages after Ohio voters raised the state’s minimum wage during the most recent election cycle.

Carwashes in six states were affected by increases to the federal minimum wage. Those states were Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio, which join 23 other states that currently have minimum wages set above the federal minimum, $5.15.

In Ohio, the measure was approved to raise the minimum wage to between $6.15 and $6.85 per hour.

Rob Farrington said the increases won’t be good for his carwash business. “A lot of people already are broke by the time they put the gas in,” he said.

However, the minimum wage increases across the country may be dwarfed by an expected proposal from the new Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives. The Democrats hope to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Goo Goo carwashes spreading fast
The first Goo Goo Car Wash in TN should be completed in the next three months, and the company said three more express carwash sites will follow in 2007.

Currently, the company has over 35 carwashes in 10 states, 21 of which are part of its express carwash franchise.

Memphis Express Wash LLC was approved in October for a $2.2 million loan to purchase 1.34 acres on a corner lot. Construction on the 3-minute express exterior is almost complete.

Goo Goo, based in Columbus, GA, is rapidly expanding, according to a company representative who spoke with Professional Car Care Online at a recent carwash convention. More than ten express carwash sites are planned in the next six months.

While the company operates carwashes of every type — self-serve, in-bay automatic, full-serve and express exterior — it only franchises its express brand.

Trouble ahead for P&G carwash?
Town leaders in Liberty Township, OH, plan to object to petitions trying to force a public vote on stricter development standards that might curtail a carwash being planned for Procter & Gamble.

Two months ago, a P&G spokesman confirmed to Professional Car Care Online that the company wants to build the carwash here to begin testing the idea of a national carwash chain.

Township trustees plan to ask the board of elections for a protest hearing.

Steve Miller, the developer working with P&G, filed petitions with 1,345 signatures against a building moratorium and the new building and zoning regulations which could prevent him from proceeding with the carwash.

Township officials said they have received dozens of e-mails from residents who claim the people asking them to sign the petitions misrepresented the intent of the new development standards.