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News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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WashUSA cancelled
After two years of reduced participation, the founders of WashUSA National Car Wash Day have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2007 event.

“We empathize with carwashers across the country who have experienced a tough couple of years of weather and high gas prices,” Mark Curtis, founder of the wash charity day, said. “We believe that economic pressures may have kept several from participating.”

The annual carwash charity event, which began in 2001 as a way to raise funds for the American Red Cross, has since raised over $800,000 to benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation. This year’s event, held on June 17, raised nearly $140,000.

Despite that success, Curtis said the event’s founders were forced to realize that increased efforts were being met by “diminishing returns.” The event worked by uniting carwashers across the country to contribute a portion of a day’s proceeds to charity.

Curtis said he hopes carwash operators will continue to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on a local or regional basis, and he plans to run a statewide event in Connecticut and New York this June.

Co-founders of the annual event were Suzanne Stansbury, Bob Katseff, Frank Lash and Stu Levy. Curtis also thanked members of the fundraiser’s committee and regional directors: including Mike Hansen, Randy Cressall and Randy Coleman.

Three founding sponsors collectively contributed $90,000 to the cause, Curtis said. They were Simoniz, Dultmeier Sales and Service, and ICS. Sonny’s, CSI, Unitec, and PDQ Manufacturing, Inc. also were substantial and consistent contributors.

“The Jim Coleman Company’s generosity in both cash donation and the production of the signage for the event was simply unbelievable,” Curtis said.

“But my gratitude really extends to everyone who was involved in the effort, vendors and operators alike, who came together with the belief that we could make something better if we worked together,” said Curtis. “I believe we did and believe we will again if the need should arise.”

P&G breaks ground on carwash test site
Proctor & Gamble’s company spokesperson Glenn Williams said the zoning for the company’s first Mr. Clean Performance Car Wash has been approved in Deerfield Township, OH, and building permits are on the way.

The site will be testing grounds for Procter & Gamble’s national carwash chain, a concept that would focus on high-end full-service carwashing. Williams likened it to the “Starbucks” of the carwashing world.

The $3.3 million project will include an 8,900-square-foot carwash and gift shop with a living-room-like waiting lounge equipped with flat-screen televisions and wireless internet. The wash will sit on 2.6 acres in a popular shopping center.

Williams said construction will continue through February, and the wash is scheduled to be open by spring.

Originally, P&G said test site would be built in Liberty Township, also a Cincinatti suburb, but zoning issues prevented a smooth construction there.

Williams said he is unsure what will become of that project, although the company is looking at “other opportunities” for the site.

Williams added that there may be some additional test sites before the company launches a nationwide chain, but he was unable to comment about where and when.

P&G was not ready to divulge which equipment manufacturer(s) they have elected to work with, but earlier reports said the company will use SONNY’S equipment for the carwash tunnel.

Chrysler’s top execs to drive used Grand Cherokees
Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Tom LaSorda has ordered the top 250 executives at Chrysler to trade in their new models for a used fleet of Jeep Grand Cherokees, Chrysler Town & Country minivans, Chrysler Pacifica crossovers and Dodge Ram pickups for two 10-day periods to test reliability and the consumer experience.

Because executives are not used to driving high-mileage cars, the test drive will focus on first impressions and an overall evaluation of the trial period.

Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Grand Cherokees have been blamed for many injuries and some deaths at carwashes, the most recent at a Splash Car Wash location in late February. Typically, sudden unintended acceleration has been to blame for these incidents, although some cite operator error.

In June of 2006, DaimlerChrysler said publicly that several studies have concluded “driver error is the only plausible explanation for sudden acceleration.”

Doug Newman, a former International Carwash Association (ICA) board member and owner of five washes in Connecticut, said he has been keeping track of incidents with Jeep Grand Cherokees. “So far this year, it looks like there’s been an average of one every 19 days,” he said in an earlier interview this year.

In an Aug. media blog, Jason Vines, Daimler’s VP of Communications, lashed back at the reports, stating, “If a vehicle suddenly accelerates in a carwash, it’s generally because some dude ‘workin’ at the carwash baby’ is dancing with two left feet — stepping on the gas pedal instead of the brake.”

Mace sells Arizona washes — again
Mace Security International, Inc. has signed an agreement to sell its Arizona Car Wash Region for $19,250,000. The recorded net book value of the washes is approximately $17 million.

This is the second time Mace has sold the twelve carwashes that create its Arizona market, dba Weiss Guys. A deal earlier this year turned sour after the buyer was forced to pull out over lack of funds.

According to Eduardo Nieves, Mace’s vice president of marketing and investor relations, the company is not naming the buyer in the current transaction, but it is a different purchaser than from before.

Emily Graham, real estate broker for the transaction, said the new buyer hopes to quickly expand its carwash business in the Southwest.

“They sold their business from an unrelated industry and they’ve always been passionate about carwashing,” Graham said. “They have aggressive expansion plans for the Southwest.”

Originally, Graham said she was working with the buyers to purchase a single carwash, but when the possibility of Weiss Guys opened up, they pushed ahead.

Graham said she believes the buyers intend to create their own brand for the chain and spread it throughout the Southwest market.

Mace continues to actively search for buyers for its other carwashes, Nieves said.

Last November, the company announced it had sold four carwashes in its Pennsylvania and New Jersey markets. That deal closed in January.

“All of the other washes are still up for sale,” Nieves said. “When we have a deal, we announce it pretty quickly, and besides that I really can’t talk about it.”

Nieves said the company hopes to be out of the carwash business as soon as possible, but the process has taken longer than the company anticipated back in 2004 when it first announced it was leaving the industry.

According to Nieves and Graham, the new buyer placed $500,000 in escrow for the Arizona sale this December. The transaction was expected to close during press time.

Rapido Rabbit spin-off continues steady growth
Boomerang Carwash, which was born out of the ashes of the failed Rapido Rabbit franchise, opened its 16th location in Tulsa, OK.

The carwash was developed by Arkansas Carwash Systems Inc. (ACS), which was the first company to open a Rapido Rabbit carwash back in December 2004. After that venture failed in September 2005, the group re-branded the carwashes under the Boomerang banner.

The company now operates over 15 express carwashes in four states, with two more planned for the Oklahoma City area in the next few months.

In March of 2006, ACS President Paul Stagg said the company plans to build about 10-20 Boomerang sites each year. The company had 14 sites at this time last year.

Still, Stagg maintained the company does not have any national goals. “I do not believe that this concept [national franchising] is developed enough to hand a franchise to someone. I know we would not consider it for a couple of years,” Stagg said.

This latest Boomerang carwash is much like the others in the 16-location chain. It features an express tunnel with a 120-foot-long conveyor that can clean up to seven cars at one time, and about 120 cars per hour..

The carwash has set its prices at $5, $8 and $10, with free use of self-serve vacuums after purchase.

The wash has four employees and hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and from noon to 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Corrections
Professional Carwashing & Detailing® would like to acknowledge the following corrections:

In its December 2006 issue, the information included in the 2006 Conveyorized Industry Leaders Review concerning Country Club Car Wash of Chesterfield, MO, should be omitted.

In its January 2006 issue, in the profile of Ray Holley, PC&D’s Distributor of the Year, the man sitting in the chair to Holley’s left is incorrectly captioned. It is Bob McQuage, president of Holley Distributors. Our apologies to Mr. McQuage!