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News from the Industry

March 08, 2011
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NASCAR signs agreement for 20-25 new tunnels
The NASCAR Car Wash Company (NCW) has entered into an agreement with Dow Jones, president and chief operating officer of Fire House Carwashes in Salt Lake Valley, to open 20-25 new express tunnel carwash locations under the NASCAR brand throughout Utah in the next several years.

Jones said he hopes to use the NASCAR brand to expand the express carwash market in Utah.

“NASCAR offers immediate brand recognition that I believe the local customers will identify with,” Jones explained. “I am thrilled to be associated with the NASCAR Car Wash executive team, they have a proven success record, financial strength and vision to really help me achieve my growth strategy of 20 or more carwashes.”

NASCAR Car Wash Company is an exclusive partner working with NASCAR to create a network of NASCAR branded carwashes. The first such locations are expected to open in early 2011.

Jeep suddenly accelerates, hits two at carwash
Two people were struck by a Jeep Commander that suddenly accelerated while exiting a bay at the Sonic Soft Carwash in Woodbridge, VA.

Witnesses said the Jeep pulled out of the bay on the morning of Aug. 29 and hit the two female workers who were waiting to hand dry the vehicle. One of the victims flew into the air as she was impacted.

The Jeep then went in a horseshoe pattern before stopping and allowing the 19-year-old carwash attendant who was driving the vehicle to flee the scene.

Miguel Aguirre-Casoverde returned less than an hour later and was then arrested and charged with a hit-and-run and reckless driving.

Police determined that Aguirre-Casoverde was in the country illegally and does not have a driver’s license. However, in the county where the carwash is based, you do not have to have a license to drive a car on private property.

The carwash’s general manager said he checks all the employees’ paperwork and said Aguirre-Casoverde gave him what appeared to be a legal Social Security number and driver’s license.

Mr. Clean carwashes profiled in Entrepreneur
Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) move into the carwash industry may have been a “massive leap,” but it’s a successful one so far, according to Entrepreneur.

A nearly 1,900-word profile about the company’s Mr. Clean Car Wash and Tide Dry Cleaners franchises found that the company has been cautiously optimistic with its plans for moving into the franchised service industry. Tide Dry Cleaners is a chain of three full-service dry cleaners opened in 2008 in Kansas City.

The company has chosen two industries without any strong national competitors; the carwash industry has only 10 carwash chains with more than 20 units, and its top 50 chains represent less than 10 percent of the market.

Entrepreneur said Mr. Clean also offers “technological tweaks and new services to differentiate its concepts,” such as proprietary computer-guided carwashing machinery, as well as Mr. Clean-branded cleaning chemicals for tire cleaning and interior services using Febreeze odor eliminators.

P&G was also careful to partner with industry leaders in order to “ease into the game.” The company acquired Carnetts Car Wash chain and franchise in 2009, as well as the company’s founder and senior executives Bruce Arnett Sr. and Bruce Arnett Jr.

“P&G has made few false moves with its core products over the last half century,” the article noted, “and the Tide and Mr. Clean rollouts are slow, small and calculated.”

Although the company already had P&G-designed sites in Ohio, it considers its newly opened site in Roundrock, TX, to be its prototype for “fresh builds throughout the country.”

The location was constructed without an official franchisee, although the company maintains hopes for future partnerships in Texas, New Jersey and Colorado, as well as Philadelphia and the Chicago area.

NYT probes push to unionize carwash workers
The New York Times detailed the movement attempting to unionize carwash workers in Los Angeles in a recent article.

According to The Times, most carwash operators are against unionization, although labor organizers remain committed to their cause. “Many of the estimated 10,000 workers in the business here are illegal immigrants, who are too scared to speak out or give their bosses any excuse to fire them,” the article noted.

California officials have estimated that two-thirds of the 500 carwashes in Los Angeles violate workplace laws. Most recently, the city was successful in sending carwash owners Benny and Nisan Pirian to jail for minimum-wage violations.

As Professional Carwashing & Detailing e-News has previously reported, the push to unionize was started by the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) under the umbrella of the United Steelworkers. So far the group has organized rallies, candlelight vigils, and pickets outside of carwash businesses.

As Randy Cressall, owner of Valencia AutoSpa in Valencia, CA, pointed out, many honest carwash operators are upset over the unionization movement, as well as the operators acting illegally.

“They’re a blight on our industry,” Cressall, a former president of the Western Carwash Association, said. “As good operators, we don’t like them to be on the same playing field as us.”

Cressall said he believed that 95 percent of California’s carwashes operate within the scope of the law and that unions within the industry would only hurt the workers.

“Having a union will mean higher wages, and that will lead to higher prices,” he said. “That will mean fewer consumers coming to carwashes, and fewer jobs for these workers.”

Autobell opens its 60th wash
Autobell Car Wash Inc., headquartered here, has opened its 60th wash at 2145 Main Street in Snellville, GA. This marks the company’s fifth location in the metro Atlanta area.

The location has the company’s Aqua Bio 100% water reclaim system.

“We are pleased and fortunate to be able to continue our growth during these challenging economic times,” stated owner Chuck Howard, Autobell’s president and CEO. “Our steady expansion is a testament to our employees, loyal customers, and our willingness to evolve while maintaining focus on our core mission:

To provide a fast, top-quality car wash at a reasonable price.”

Autobell Car Wash is America’s third largest conveyor carwash company, with locations in North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia. The company was founded in 1969 in Charlotte, NC, and remains privately held and family-operated. Autobell now employs approximately 1,900 people and washes over 3 million cars annually.

Alex Rivera is the store manager.

Aussie environmentalist: Home washing kills wildlife
The president of the Wildlife Preservation Society in Queensland, Australia, and the director of Zoom Carwash are speaking out on the harmful effect of at-home carwashing.

Simon Baltais, president of Wildlife Queensland, a community environmental organization with over 3,500 members, said “Contaminated waste from stormwater is a massive threat to marine environments and at the current rate the local dugong population could be severely compromised or potentially locally extinct by 2026.”

Zoom Carwash director Lance Woodrow said that pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbon, diesel and motor oil, dissolved copper, lead, zinc, nitrogen, phosphorous and surfactants from cleaning products are also getting washed into the waterways due to at-home washing.

Baltais added, “People believe that by using biodegradable detergents they are preventing this problem but unfortunately there are still an abundance of chemicals that are washed directly into stormwater systems. The best solution is to prevent any toxic substance from going down the stormwater drain at all.”

Recently, PC&D reported that the Australian Car Wash Industry Association joined forces with the Clean Up Australia to promote commercial carwashing as an eco-friendly industry. Their campaign aims to warn people about the dangers of at-home washing.