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News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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OC Choppers honors PDQ with customized bike
Orange County Choppers (OCC), the motorcycle customization business run by the father and son team of Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr., are honoring PDQ Manufacturing with a custom designed motorcycle.

The Rock Tavern, NY-based duo named the custom chopper, “LaserWash Spirit of Innovation,” to celebrate PDQ’s long-standing innovation offered to the carwash industry.

OCC designs and builds distinctive one-of-a-kind motorcycles for celebrities and major corporations. Their endeavors are chronicled on the popular television show, American Choppers, which airs weekly on The Discovery Channel.

The PDQ chopper will be personally delivered to the show floor of the International Carwash Association’s (ICA) Car Care World Expo 2005, in San Antonio by OCC founder, Teutul Sr.

Mark Van Pay, PDQ’s director of marketing, told Professional Carwashing & Detailing that the collaboration of the two groups has been in the works for the past six months, and PDQ is excited to have an Orange County attraction as part of their booth at the ICA show.

Teutul Sr. and his son Mikey Teutul will greet attendees and sign autographs in PDQ’s booth following the presentation.

“The delivery of the chopper is just part of a long list of activities going on in the PDQ display,” Mike Savignac, PDQ’s executive vice president said. “We are going to be introducing several exciting new products and innovations at Car Care World Expo.”

Post-sale Hanna announces program for creditors
In the wake of Jim Coleman Company’s acquisition of all assets and branding for Hanna Car Wash Systems International, the former owners of Hanna have entered into an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC) program, which tends to be faster and better for creditors than a bankruptcy filing.

Through a very common and legal acquisition structure, Jim Coleman Co. has acquired Hanna’s assets but not its debt, which essentially leaves Hanna as a company with only liabilities.

Hanna’s main secured debt will total $5 million after Hanna’s secured lender applies the sales proceeds to its debt, implying that secured creditors will incur a $5 million loss as a result of the sale.

Unsecured creditors of Hanna have been asked to submit a proof of claim form. The unsecured creditors now have 45 days to file claims for part of a $250,000 fund allotted to partially pay unsecured debt.

The debt is completely the responsibility of the old Hanna corporation and is not in any way affiliated with the Jim Coleman Co.

Wal-Mart workers nix unionization attempt
In a 17-1 vote, Wal-Mart Tire & Lube workers in Loveland, CO., rejected efforts to establish what would have been the first union inside any Wal-Mart store in the United States.

Dave Minshall, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union that initiated the vote, said that the group will ask the National Labor Relations Board to throw the results out because allegedly no union member was allowed to observe the election.

UFCW also claims that Wal-Mart added employees to the unit to dilute the strength of the union supporters, however, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman said that any workers added to the operation were a response to business needs and not part of an anti-union effort.

Minshall said that employees had been subjected to intimidation and harassment prior to the vote, including one worker who claimed he had been harassed by other Wal-Mart employees and that managers essentially failed to react when he reported the incident.

In 2000 meat-cutters at a Texas Wal-Mart voted in favor of a union; shortly afterward, Wal-Mart eliminated the position companywide.

Carwash deal raises questions in NFL Vikings sale
The National Football League’s (NFL) Finance Committee plans to review all career and business dealings of Minnesota Vikings’ bid winner Reggie Fowler, particularly his financial involvement with a chain of carwash locations.

Part of Fowler’s controversial business dealings concern his ownership in property which houses four Arizona carwashes operated by Joseph Gagliano, who was once sentenced to federal prison for his role in a college basketball point-shaving scandal.

CNN/SI first reported the scandal on June 30, 1998, when Gagliano pleaded guilty to his role in the Arizona State snafu.

When the NFL analyzes Fowler’s ability to come up with $150 million — the 30 percent share he would need as general partner under NFL rules — his alliances with Gagliano may create a snag for his ownership of the team.

Fowler owns the land under the carwash and his lawyer, Kevin Warren said the two men simply have a tenant-landlord relationship.

Fowler said he plans to sell the land on which the carwashes sit because he plans to move to Minnesota and focus on the Vikings.

Proposed SBA cuts could hurt new car-care businesses
A proposed Small Business Association (SBA) budget cut has many business owners, including carwash operators, wondering what affect this might have on the creation of new businesses.

Many carwashes — particularly new washes — are financed through an SBA loan program each year because many small business owners are denied loans from secured banks because they are unwilling to risk capital on new ventures.

US Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Chair of the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, criticized President Bush’s proposed budget cuts for the SBA in Fiscal Year 2006.

According to Snowe, small businesses continue to lead US economic growth, generating two-thirds of new private sector jobs and employing more than half of all workers.

“I am disappointed that this budget disproportionately cuts essential SBA programs — continuing a trend in cuts that is more pronounced than other agencies have experienced,” Snowe said.

Snowe’s committee is concerned that the SBA’s budget would eliminate or no longer support several programs that provide needed services to small businesses.

According to Snowe, the proposed SBA budget is $85 million less than the administration requested for the agency last year. Her committee is saying that this signifies a continuation of a trend of decreasing SBA budgets over the last five years, but the committee still plans to push for increases to the program’s strength.

Carwash system featured in hit movie
A cash register system made by DRB Systems was featured in “A Cinderella Story,” a movie starring teen idols Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray.

The SiteWatch Cash Register at Jerzy Boy’z Carwash in San Pedro, CA, appeared several times in the hit film’s carwash scenes.

The movie is a twisted and hilarious update of the classic fairy tale with Duff starring as Sam Montgomery, a high school senior and Murray playing the role of Austin Ames, a popular quarterback and Sam’s cyber soul mate.

SiteWatch is used at many exterior-only and full-service carwashes across the nation, including sites owned by many large carwash chains.

SoCal rains hurt business
Carwash owners and employees in Southern California are feeling financial strains after excessive rain storms pounded the area.

Ernie Martinez has made minimum wage at Karim Car Wash for the past five years and said he’s been waiting for about six weeks to get a full week of work in — which, he said, is 40-48 hours, not the 18-20 hours he’s been working.

Many operators said they had no other choice but to close for the time being.

Luxury Car Wash stopped operation for two weeks last month. The manager said the storms cost the business approximately $15,000.

Jose Briones, manager at Bear Valley Hand Car Wash, said that this year has been especially difficult. He estimated that Bear Valley’s business has fallen about 50 percent during the rains, washing an estimated 2,100 fewer cars than they typically do.

MI area carwashers disagree with water fee hikes
Chesaning village officials approved plans to boost water and sewer fees, making some Michigan carwash operators protest.

Businesses that rely heavily on water, such as carwashes, may seriously be affected by the proposed increases on water rates.

At Bay Wash Plus, the owners may have to pay an extra $4,770 annually. The new rates would boost a typical water bill to $34,685 a year from $29,915.

The State Department of Environmental Quality has imposed a fine of $1,500 per day — retrospective of Feb. 1 — on the town if it doesn’t create new regulations and fees for users.

Village President E. Douglas Corwin Jr. vowed that Chesaning won’t pay the fine, which amounts to $25,500 as of today. Instead, officials are asking for an extension to draw up a plan, citing unforeseen circumstances that made their original proposal useless.

Delta Sonic location closure stirs public outcry
A popular carwash in Tinley Park, IL, was recently closed by Delta Sonic Car Wash Systems.

Minuteman Car Wash, formerly owned by John Shullman, was purchased by Delta Sonic and then abruptly closed following the sale.

Delta Sonic purchased the land next to the carwash in 2001 to keep the wash from expanding and made increasingly higher offers to Shullman for his property.

Minuteman was the only automatic carwash in the city, and officials said that they are upset that the city will be without an automatic carwash.

Delta Sonic is weighing its options for the site — reopening a carwash or demolishing the building and selling the land to a developer.

Water ordinance limits charity washing
The San Antonio city water authority announced that it has cracked down on charity carwashing conducted in unregulated parking lots and areas without water reclaim devices.

In recent years, officials from the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) have worked to conserve water to combat drought. SAWS is now enacting a strict water conservation ordinance for the city which will require charity carwashes to work with professional carwash operations participating with SAWS.

“Many carwash events have already been adapted to working with carwash owners,” Ruby Perez, SAWS conservation planner, said. “The only slight drawback is that these church groups and high school clubs need to plan at least two weeks in advance and contact the owners directly.”

SAWS has been working closely with business owners in the Southwest Car Wash Association (SCWA) to provide options for nonprofit groups.

The water authority has compiled a list of certified carwash operations that are included in the SAWS Vehicle Wash Conservation program, which requires the wash to host a charity wash at least three times a year.