Eduardo Nieves is the vice president of marketing and investor relations of Mace Security International, Inc., of Mount Laurel, NJ, a company that manufactures security and surveillance products (such as pepper spray) and at one time owned 55 carwashes throughout the United States. In 2004, the company announced it would be selling its washes to focus on growing its security business. The carwashes have been selling and as it stands, they have 16 more to sell.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: Why did Mace decide to get involved with the carwash industry?
Eduardo Nieves: In 1999 a new management team lead by our current CEO Louis D. Paolino invested in Mace and implemented a new business strategy of acquiring carwashes nationwide. Lou had seen similarities between carwashes and the business he had been working in, which was the waste management business. He had also owned a few carwashes, and thought that it was a good industry to get involved with that had growth potential.
PC&D: What is the current relationship between Mace and the carwash industry?
EN: We still own 16 washes, 15 in Texas and one in Florida. They are still up for sale.
PC&D: Why has Mace decided to descend from the carwash industry?
EN: In 2002, we began to grow our security business and started making small acquisitions of electronic surveillance companies. As that sector started growing in 2003 and 2004, the company decided to go in that direction and to sell its carwashes. Its still a great industry.
PC&D: How are those sales coming along?
EN: I cannot get into the details, but we’re working on selling them.
PC&D: Is selling a carwash difficult?
EN: We had some difficulties in trying to sell all of the carwashes as an entire deal at first. Then, we decided to sell them individually or by region and that worked and there were more people interested.
PC&D: How do you market a carwash that’s for sale?
EN: We used all of the traditional methods. We announced the sale with a press release, put ads in the local newspapers, posted signs outside of the carwashes, used the internet and worked with the industry magazines. We did not use any local real estate brokers, although we were approached.
PC&D: What does the future hold for the carwashes that are still for sale?
EN: We are operating them and treat them as an active business. We have kept all of the personnel at the carwash site level, and still have regional managers. We still advertise and market their services, but are still actively trying to sell them at the same time.