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Spend any time discussing carwash innovators and one family name is sure to come up: Hanna. The late Dan Hanna Sr. is credited with pioneering the carwash industry as we know it. Today, his children, nephews and nieces continue to carry the torch.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing recently caught up with one of those torch-bearers, Hanna’s nephew Joey, owner of the Eco Car Wash chain with his brother Mark.
PC&D: Tell me a little bit about how you and your brother ended up in the carwash business.
Joey Hanna: Well, I started out in the nursery landscape business, and I was looking for a business that was kind of recession-proof. My brothers and sisters and I are very close, and Mark and I actually live right next door to each other.
We started purchasing carwashes about three years ago. It’s been the business of my family, my cousins, for years. Part of it, I guess, was my roots calling. I just love the business. I’ve loved learning all about it and being a part of it.
PC&D: Describe for me the idea behind Eco Car Wash.
JH: We’re exterior-only and we have vending and vacuuming at all of our facilities. It’s a no-prep wash; we just spray down the cars and we use all soft-cloth carwashes.
Eco offers two prices; I have a five dollar wash and a nine dollar wash. We’ve got 42 employees and we dress our guys in ties and full uniforms.
PC&D: How many Eco Car Wash sites are there currently, and what is the company’s goal?
JH: Currently there are six. My goals are to expand the business; I’d really like to get to 50+.
I’ve learned one thing; I don’t want to grow too fast. A couple of other companies have made that mistake. Eco’s goal is to grow, but to have very calculated growth.
PC&D: What sort of hurdles do you see for the industry and how do you suggest operators jump those?
JH: I think the hurdles are gas prices that have affected the industry. I’ve taken a stance that my product just has to be that much better. I’m adding fifteen dryers to my facilities to get all of my stores up to an 8 -dryer package. I feel that if I put out a consistent product, and a better product than my competitors, I won’t lose some customers because they will see the value in the wash.
PC&D: You and your cousins are technically competitors, what is that like?
JH: Well, Mark and Kirk’s washes (the Washman Auto Spa chain) are full-service. They’re a little bit of a different animal than ours.
I buy, as do my cousins, all of my chemicals from Kaady Chemical. Chuck Kaady is my cousin, as well as my friend.
I will say that I do think I’m going to look at expanding into different markets, like northern California, instead of filling up the area with Hanna washes. Otherwise, family get-togethers are going to get a bit crowded. (Laughter.)