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Last year, the International Carwash Association (ICA) helped exhibitors unveil over 100 new products at Car Care World Expo, in Orlando, FL. Not too shabby for a show that included 364 carwash manufacturers and suppliers, but this year, the ICA wanted to give attendees a little more for their money at the 2009 show in Las Vegas from April 1-4.
Eric Wulf, executive director and chief executive officer of the ICA, said the Association has made significant investments in Car Care World Expo to ensure it remains the industry’s leading carwash product and idea marketplace. In addition to the new products showcased at the Expo, the ICA has also made major investments in its educational programming, including dedicated tracks for operators, site managers and distributors.
“The exhibitors want to have their products and services show as well as possible,” Wulf explained. “There are great opportunities these companies to display products and services that offer up cost-savings, greater efficiencies, ones that will save operators money that could improve marketing or a wash process.”
Wulf said the challenges of the economy this year mean exhibitors have adapted and changed their focus from past years. “What I’m hearing is that people are changing what they’re emphasizing,” he said.
New vocabulary, new products
Some key words you’ll be hearing in and around the expo floor are “economy,” “efficiency,” and “energy.” Carwash owners and operators are looking to save and also make more money, improve energy-usage and speed and be as green as possible.
Anthony Analetto, president of SONNY’S The Car Wash Factory Equipment Division, which will have eight new products on display, said, “Customers are telling us that they are looking for new product enhancements that can be easily added or retrofitted to their existing equipment. They’re looking to improve wash quality, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce labor for the smallest investment possible. In this economy they can’t justify waiting a year or more to recoup their investment, they need an immediate impact and a much faster return on their investment.”
SONNY’s will be showing a new Bison Brush, a free hand prep station, Octopus Mirror Blaster, a 3GPM manifold, Ram Jet Finishing Dryer, Side-to-Side mitter, a top brush and eco-tabs.
Jennifer Wilcox of WashGear said they appreciate the Expo because it lets their “customers experience our products hands on.” Her company will have the CMAE on display, which is its newest retrofit to facilitate credit, fleet and gift card acceptance on Hamilton and Unitec WashSelectII auto cashiers. It features a sunlight readable display and an integrated heater.
DRB Systems will have its SiteWatch Automatic Recharge Module (ARM) on the show floor, a device that sells and controls monthly passes without paperwork and automatically recharges monthly passes to customer credit cards. Passes can be unlimited or restricted to a specific number of washes.
Troy Wade, director of marketing for Oasis Car Wash Systems, Inc., said the company is “concerned with attendance due to the state of the economy, but feel it is a good opportunity to show people a whole new class of wash system.” The Eclipse by Oasis will be on display at the Expo, a product that combines the washing prowess of an in-bay automatic and an express tunnel.
Stephen J. Romero, with the Professional Car Care Products Division of U.S. PRODUCTS, echoed Wade’s statement, saying “2008 was down, but ended up strong. January 2009 was way off but things haven’t gotten a lot better since.” U.S. Products will have two products on display, the Oasis Plus ozone generator and the Cobra Advantage, a heated carpet extractor. Romero said that the Oasis Plus will also be featured in the Green Products Showcase.
Optimism and innovation rule the day
Steve Robinson, the marketing director of Mark VII Equipment Inc., said that the Expo is the “premier trade show and a great venue to launch” their two new products, a friction rollover and a touchless rollover.
Both of Mark VII’s SoftWash XT® and the AquaJet XT® feature a new controller and variable-speed drive system which can deliver cleaning results while consuming only 21 gallons of water and 5.2 ounces of chemical, thereby lowering operating costs. They also feature new energy-efficient contouring dryers.
George M. Pawlik of XpresSystems Inc., said he is optimistic about the new product his company will have on display at the Expo — a vehicle identification system.
Pawlik said, “The economy is always an issue, but people have to look deeper at their business and get added value when they make purchases, we believe we give them that.”
The system scans an RFID tag attached to a windshield and automatically purchasing and processing a carwash. It also processes vehicles in an efficient manner, which can speed up lines.
Bobby Jones of TSS Inc. said they recognize that the economy is in a pretty bad place right now, but that just pushes them to work harder. “Being a company that deals specifically with marketing, we know that our very existence depends on our customers’ continued success. We are doing everything in our power to aid that, and we are confident that not only are we going to pull through this economic crisis, we are going to pull all of our customers though with us.”
TSS will have on display their Arch Galore, which comes complete with application manifolds, built in flashing LED lights, illuminated sign fixtures, and choice of body color that is also customizable and made to order.
Improving products to improve prospects
Douglas A. Marquis, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Lustra™ Car Care Products, also recognizes that this is a difficult time for businesses. However, he said, “as consumers continue to hear discouraging news about the future and their finances, it becomes even more critical that we look at every aspect of the ‘product’ our industry offers and do everything we can to give them a great experience at the carwash.” He noted that the discretionary spending dollar is shrinking and the carwash industry needs to strengthen its position as a valuable service and an enjoyable experience in order to keep the consumers coming back for more.”
At the Lustra booth will be their water-based Spray-N-Shine™ Tire Dressing. The dressing is supposed to last longer, helping users to save money.