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Carwashes in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey are as diverse as Giants and Jets fans, but there is one woman working hard to make sure all are represented, respected and ready to succeed. That woman, Suzanne Stansbury, is the executive director of the New York State Car Wash Association (NYSCWA), the Connecticut Car Wash Association (CCA) and the Car Wash Operators of New Jersey (CWONJ). On top of that, she’s also the editor and publisher of The Northeast Carwasher magazine. In between planning expos and other events, she recently let us in on what’s going on with all three associations.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: Please tell us about the CCA’s 21st Annual Mini Expo that went on last March?
Suzanne Stansbury: It’s a challenging time to have a small state expo, especially when the state in question has fewer than 200 washes, but we were able to get a decent turn out and several vendors saw real positive energy on the floor.
We are the longest-running tabletop expo on the East Coast and very proud of the product we produce. It’s always a struggle; however, to get new faces to the floor and with more washes being owned by fewer operators, it will continue to be a challenge. The purpose is to bring members together with local vendors in an intimate setting. It’s a real social event that with any luck will pay off for everyone.
Our committee is exploring some new and exciting options for 2011 that we will reveal at a later date.
PC&D: What is happening with Connecticut’s stance on reinstating the sales tax on carwashes, a big issue for the CCA last year?
SS: The CCA has spent a lot of money over the last 20 years employing a professional lobbyist who helped us win the repeal of sales tax on both the self-service and tunnel segments of the industry.
Last year the reinstatement of a sales tax was a very real possibility, but thanks to a strong grassroots effort by our board and members we were able to keep that tax at bay.
With the huge deficit in the state again this year we are on guard and prepared to fight to keep the tax off. We are already working on meetings at the Capitol and with key legislators. It’s critical for a state association to work closely with a professional lobbyist. It’s a huge benefit to our members.
PC&D: What is currently happening with the NYSCWA?
SS: The NYSCWA is working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection to educate consumers on the merits of professional carwashing, much like the CWONJ has done. We have met with the state DEP commissioner and hope to kick off an educational campaign. It’s hard to do that without seeming self-serving, but it can be done.
We are also gearing up for our annual trip to CitiField on June 22. The event attracts 100+ and is a great day of carwash camaraderie and baseball. The Mets take on the Detroit Tigers and we enjoy food and drink in the Empire Party Suite. All associations are welcome to attend. Readers can visit our website for more information at nyscwa.com.
PC&D: A “virtual meeting” was held for the CWONJ in February. How did that go?
SS: It was a huge success and I just tried it in New York State where it was also very well received. It’s a way to save on airfare if a speaker is from outside the region, and using media like Skype enables you to see and hear your presenter, even if he’s from Minnesota! I plan on using more of it with my three associations.
PC&D: What are association members looking for now that is different from 10 years ago?
SS: As anyone who has ever run an association or sat on a board knows, you get your biggest turnouts when there is a crisis or political issue brewing.
That being said, it’s a struggle today to attract members to events with them being pulled in so many directions at home and work. You just have to keep trying new things and make them more social and something a spouse or whole family can also attend.
PC&D: Are plans underway for the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention?
SS: We have been planning for the 21st NRCC since early winter. The Mid-Atlantic Carwash Association is this year’s host and has been working hard to create their own unique programming. Our keynote, Captain Scott Shields, has an incredible story to share. He and his rescue dog Bear were two of the first at Ground Zero. His keynote may be the most memorable in our show’s history.
There are also great seminars planned and the new venue, The Trump Taj Mahal, will put all vendors on the same show floor for the first time in years. The hotel itself has been remodeled and looks great. This venue will also enable attendees to bring more of their staff since the pricing is more reasonable than it was at the Borgata. We will also be on the boardwalk so you can take full advantage of Atlantic City.
The board is very excited about the move. You can check out more at nrccshow.com.