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News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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Carwash OEM files Chapter 7

Arborlodge, Inc., of Auburn, NY, which did business as original carwash equipment manufacturer Monorail Car Wash Systems, has filed for Chapter 7 in an attempt to liquidate its assets to free itself from debt.

The liquidation is still in its earliest stages, but all unsecured creditors have been contacted as of the company's official filing through US Bankruptcy Court Northern District of New York.

The company's bank, HSBC, currently is in control of all outstanding loans previously issued to the carwash OEM. The company's attorney, Ross Tisci, has confirmed that all of the company's assets are in fact covered by the bank's security interests.

The total amount recorded for unsecured, non-priority claims exceeds $528,000.

Premier Drying Systems, Industrial Vacuums Systems and Huron Valley Sales are among the car-care vendors affected most by Monorail's debt, but representatives for the company have yet to report who may takeover the company's clients for future business.

Rápido Rabbit celebrates first opening

Investor Keith Gibson, of GN Investment Group, Fort Smith, AR, celebrated the grand opening of his new carwash site, marking his first franchise endeavor with the Rápido Rabbit carwash chain.

The first Rápido Rabbit began operation early last month in Oklahoma City, and Gibson said he'll be breaking ground this week on his next Rápido location in Edmond, OK, targeting the Oklahoma carwash market.

"I met with Steve Gaudreau and discussed this extensively with him a little more than a year ago," said Gibson. "I liked (Rápido's) concept, their ideas, and I liked their expertise in this area."

The Beverly, MA-based Rápido Rabbit franchise was officially launched last year by franchise President Steve Gaudreau, owner of POWER, Inc.'s Car Wash Institute.

Rápido's format features a three to five minute express wash, with price offerings ranging from $3 to $10.

Gibson has opened the first Rápido in conjunction with Arkansas Carwash Systems (ACS), an area developer for Rápido. According to ACS President Paul Stagg, it took roughly seven months to build the 120-foot tunnel wash which sits on one acre of property.

"A lot of people in the industry underestimate what it takes to run a high-profile operation, and [the franchise] has helped support us in that sense," said ACS President Paul Stagg. "They offered us extensive training and materials for employees as well as help with site selection."

"We are very excited about our first unit opening up, and we appreciate the relationship that we've had with ACS to make this happen," Gaudreau said.

Southern wash chain announces franchising endeavor

The Cactus Car Wash chain, Atlanta, of full-service washes announced that it is now offering a franchise program to interested operators.

The chain currently has four locations in Atlanta and Charleston, SC, and features tunnel washing with equipment designed for high volume.

The chain recently adopted a flex-serve model, and detailing services are also part of the company's structured franchise services.

The company plans to target cities across the southeastern United States in an effort to grow in their core market of Atlanta.

NY program helps lower carwash utility bills

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) an-nounced that they have developed a program to help carwashes and other businesses reduce energy costs.

The New York Energy $mart Program will provide funds to carwashes and equip them with variable speed drives (VSD) that reduce motor speed on drying fans and pump motors when not in use, thereby cutting electricity consumption.

Hoffman Development Corporation utilized the state's program when it constructed a new wash in Wilton, NY.

Hoffman received $37,000 for VSDs, and the new facility is saving nearly $10,000 in annual energy costs.

Under the New York Energy $mart Program, NYSERDA provides financial and technical assistance to replace outdated lighting, motors, and other equipment that consumes unnecessary amounts of electricity.

Financial incentive options include funding for pre-qualified energy-efficient equipment, low-interest financing and cost-shared technical assistance.

Carwash sues equipment supplier

Wash Barn, Alton, IL, has filed suit against Advanced Cleaning Technologies of Missouri in Madison County Circuit Court.

Wash Barn allegedly invested $123,000 in machinery and is suing Advanced for $70,000 because the parts didn't work properly after installation.

Wash Barn claims that on Aug. 28, 2002, it entered in a contract with Advanced for equipment and supervision, expertise, and assistance on installing and operating the carwash equipment.

Wash Barn alleges that the plumbing and heating equipment was improperly arranged, placed and located, and because of the poor workmanship, Wash Barn was forced to temporarily close, thereby losing profits and revenue.

The carwash claims that Advanced refused to fix the equipment and substantial expense has been incurred by Wash Barn in an effort to repair the alleged faulty equipment.

Carwash investigation targets employee theft

News investigators in Denver went undercover at several carwashes and caught employees doing more than just cleaning — they caught employees stealing.

The news channel went undercover at 15 local carwashes to do this report. They placed $240 of bait money, three hidden cameras inside a vehicle and a large camera across the street.

Only nine of the 15 washes the news team tested cleaned the cars without taking any of the money in the vehicles.

Because the employees all stole less than $500, these cases are only considered misdemeanors. Most carwash thefts are difficult to prove because they are not caught on camera and are therefore rarely prosecuted.

Management at every carwash where money was taken is taking a proactive role in fixing the problem by changing policies and procedures to try and prevent this from happening in the future.