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Business Operations

News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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Charlie Lieb to retire this year
Charlie Lieb, president of PDQ Manufacturing, Inc., will retire at the end of this year. Executive Vice President Mike Savignac, who has served in that position for the past seven years, will assume the role of president on July 1.

The company plans no changes in strategy or operations as a result of Lieb’s retirement and there will be a seamless transition with Savignac.

Commenting on his decision, Lieb said, “I am extremely proud of our accomplishments over the past 17 years and I have full confidence in the leadership at PDQ. The time has come for me to spend more time with family and enjoying life.”

During his long tenure, Lieb inspired a spirit of innovation that allowed PDQ to become a leading manufacturer of in-bay automatic vehicle wash equipment. Acknowledged by his peers as an industry veteran and expert, Lieb is often called upon to be a speaker and has served on a number of association boards, including the International Carwash Association.

Lieb’s planned departure comes as PDQ Manufacturing is continuing to establish its world-wide leadership position in the vehicle wash industry.

Fatal accident at carwash involves Jeep
A worker at a Queens carwash was killed and another was injured when a co-worker lost control of the Jeep Grand Cherokee he was cleaning and plowed into them — and then took off.

Felipe Alvarenga was drying a car at the carwash at about 11:30 a.m. when the Jeep, driven by another worker, accelerated rapidly out of the carwash tunnel and slammed into the car he was cleaning.

“The car took off from out of the carwash and slammed into my vehicle and pinned the guy down under,” customer and witness Olston Kilkenny said. “It was a horrible accident,” he added.

The worker then fled in the Jeep before abandoning it at a gas station and fleeing on foot. He was not identified in the report, although police are said to be looking for him.

“I think he panicked,” Kilkenny said. “I don’t think he was trying to hurt those guys.”

Alvarenga was rushed to Franklin Hospital where he later died. Another worker, who was not identified, was also hurt in the collision and was in stable condition at a local hospital.

Although investigators did not indicate that this accident is being investigated as an instance of sudden unintended acceleration, such incidents involving Jeep Cherokees are nothing new to the carwash industry. Reports date back to the early 1990s, including a fatality in 2006.

Carwash boycott continues
A “Do Not Patronize” list is being published on the web, asking people to not give money to six carwashes, all owned by Benny Pirian.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing® has previously reported about boycotts and protests conducted outside carwashes, as well as a push to unionize carwash workers and about the charges filed on behalf of former employee Jose Torres with the National Labor Relations Board.

The carwashes listed in the announcement include Vermont Hand Wash, Hollywood Car Wash and Celebrity Car Wash, all three of which are in the Los Angeles area; Five Star Car Wash of Northridge, CA; Lawndale Car Wash of Lawndale, CA; and Magic Wand Car Wash of Huntington Park, CA.

The announcement states: “Please support these workers in their fight for good jobs by refusing to patronize” the aforementioned carwashes.

Drought declared in CA
It’s been happening in North Carolina, and now a drought has been declared for all of California.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed the drought-status following two years of low rainfall and snowmelt.

Home-based carwashing has already been banned in some areas, and in National City, CA, one councilman has called for stricter enforcement of a ban on charity carwashing in parking lots. The water districts in Long Beach and Oakland, have asked customers to cut down on water use by 10 to 20 percent.

Schwarzenegger has been proposing for years that the state borrow $11.9 billion for water-related projects including reservoirs, river restoration and improving water quality.

Aussie govt. reviews carwashes after outbreak
The Australian Department of Human Services is now reviewing the safety of all carwashes after an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease was traced to a self-serve location in Hoppers Crossing, Australia, but stressed customers not to boycott car care businesses.

Instead, the DHS is working with the carwash industry to develop a system for pointing out the potential risks that may exist.

“We need to talk more with the industry about developing a risk management approach for carwash operators. We don’t have all the answers as to what these measures might be, but we are coming up with them,” said DHS spokesman Bram Alexander.

The Grand Car Wash, the source of the outbreak, is still undertaking an overhaul of its plumbing and will face further tests before it is allowed to re-open.

“And our requirement on them before they would re-open for business would be a negative test result for Legionella bacteria…” said Alexander.

Earlier in the month, an ACWA representative said the carwash did not use a reclaim system and that the outbreak was instead related to the carwash’s hot water holding tanks.