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News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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Car-care defendant in contempt of court

A recent hearing prompted by detailing clay maker Auto Wax Co., Inc. in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois has found that John Kucala, Kucala Enterprises, is in contempt of court for violating the court's preliminary injunction.

The two companies are engaged in a long-running intellectual property lawsuit.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine's previous articles concerning this lawsuit show that the disputing companies last met when Federal Judge Joan H. Lefkow issued a preliminary injunction against Kucala Enterprises, prohibiting the company from selling the detailing clay in question.

Kucala allegedly violated that order and continued selling clay. Recent court records show that Kucala now must file and serve his response to the order. The clay debate is set for a ruling by the court in the near future.

Police: No driver in fatal carwash accident

Officials are continuing to release details concerning a recent accident at a carwash in Tampa, FL, that resulted in the death of a customer.

Authorities now believe there wasn't actually anyone driving the Isuzu Rodeo when it struck Brenda Lee Brown, who was walking across the property toward her serviced vehicle. Brown later died in an area hospital due to head injuries.

Town 'N Country Carwash worker Densil Blake told deputies he was wiping the interior of the SUV when he accidentally knocked the gearshift from neutral into drive as the vehicle left the dryer bay.

The SUV jumped out of the bay and struck Brown as she pushed her 18- month-old son, Darnell, in a stroller across the parking lot. The child was unharmed, and is in the care of his father McNeil Brown.

Detectives were unable to determine whether Blake has a current driver's license. They know he doesn't have a Florida license and are checking to see if one has been issued in another state.

Sheriff's Cpl. Donald Morris said that it is not likely that Blake will face criminal charges. "There was no criminal intent to hit this woman, " Morris said. "He was not driving recklessly, and he was not impaired. It's just a tragedy all the way around. "

Howard Hogan, who manages the nearby Waters Car Spa, said that not all employees of carwashes have driver's licenses, but added that it is a good practice to require licenses of employees who often drive customers' vehicles on a carwash lot.

Carwashing may see immigrant worker regulations

Los Angeles officials are calling for tougher regulations to be set for employers, including carwash owners, who may see an influx in immigrant workers with counterfeit work papers.

George Garcia, owner of the local Car Wash on Sunset, insists that new hires provide proof, such as Social Security or green cards, that they are authorized to work. However, Garcia said that there needs to be tighter borders in order to keep immigrant workers out.

Garcia said that, even if federal agents did raid his carwash, it wouldn't take long to replace immigrant workers with new ones.

Many government officials are beginning to recognize that when authorities crack down on employers, it often is to stop terrorism, human smuggling or large-scale criminal operations, and that penalties for employers might be the next step.

Garcia said that he wouldn't object to more enforcement but that it should be across the board, targeting upscale businesses as well.

Extensive networks of counterfeiters have developed to provide fraudulent, inexpensive papers for illegal workers who use them to dupe employers eager to fill a position.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) proposed a bill that would establish strict new penalties for businesses that hired illegal employees. It also would establish a temporary worker program.

President Bush has said his proposed guest worker program would also include tough penalties for errant employers.

Car Brite brand sold to major chemical maker

Publicly traded chemical maker Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) has signed an agreement through its Valvoline division to purchase the car-care product brand Car Brite from E & A Industries of Indianapolis.

The deal would be carried out by a cash transaction, but the purchase price has not been disclosed by either company involved. Ashland, through its Valvoline division, is the parent owner of the Eagle One brand of carwash soap and wax products. "This acquisition will help Valvoline expand its customer base and help us achieve our aggressive growth plans, " Valvoline President Samuel J. Mitchell said.

Car Brite President John Campbell commented that the sale will benefit both businesses and their customers by allowing distributors of Car Brite products to have a greater opportunity to grow because of Valvoline's current marketing.

The Car Brite name includes a broad array of interior and exterior cleaners, paint restorers and protectants and final detail dressings, paints and dyes that are sold through more than 100 distributors.

Cleveland's fleet washing stirs controversy

A recent investigative report showed that the city of Cleveland has been spending tens of thousands of dollars for publicly-owned vehicles to be washed at commercial carwashes.

The Cleveland Police Department is one of the biggest spenders of taxpayer's money for carwashing, which has sparked an outcry from residents who hope to stop such public departments from spending general funds to wash their vehicles.

Deputy Police Chief Lester Foltz said that, in their defense, it's very important that the city's vehicles look good, because they represent the city itself.

Hanna establishes new headquarters

Jim Coleman Company, which recently acquired the Hanna brand, announced that Hanna equipment manufacturing has moved into a new facility in Houston.

Hanna equipment manufacturing will take place in the new 50,000 square-foot building, and all materials have been moved from Portland, OR, and production has now begun in its new site.

The new facility houses all Hanna equipment manufacturing, assembly, parts department, engineering, purchasing, and quality control.

Jim Coleman Company will manage Hanna's regional and international sales through its Hanna Sales Office in Portland, OR.

Carwash camera catches staged accident

Video cameras at a Camden, NJ self-serve carwash caught a self-proclaimed hit and run victim inflicting the injury upon himself.

Charles Mcternan initially told local police he was vacuuming his vehicle one morning when two young men in a dark-colored car whipped through the property, struck his leg and sped off.

However, an on-site surveillance camera caught Mcternan hitting himself repeatedly in the leg with a mallet and then rubbing his leg with sandpaper.

Mcternan, who intends to get a lawyer, was charged with filing a false police report and was released on a summons pending a court date; he said he'd been going through a traumatic period in his life and used terrible judgment.

National Car Wash adapts with new offerings

National Car Wash (NCW), based in Nashville, TN, one of carwashing's top self-serve chains, announced that it has sold three franchises that will incorporate the express tunnel concept.

The Tennessee locations in Shelbyville, Gallatin, and Ashland City will have free vacuum services for its customers, and the location in Gallatin will also offer four self-serve bays.

The tunnels will be 100-foot conveyors utilizing Sonny's equipment and state-of-the-art technology. NCW is also planning to convert its touch-free tunnel at its office location to the express wash concept.

Check out Professional Carwashing & Detailing's Touch-Up section this month to read a one-on-one interview with NCW co-owner, Tim Jones.