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News from the Industry

October 11, 2010
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Procter & Gamble acquires Carnett’s
Procter & Gamble (P&G) has acquired the assets of Carnett’s carwash franchise company, a well-known Atlanta-based chain with 15 locations.

As Professional Carwashing & Detailing® earlier reported, P&G hopes to launch its Mr. Clean Car Wash franchise nationally and has been seeking franchisees since August.

P&G formed Agile Pursuits Franchising, Inc. last year in order to acquire the assets of Carnett’s this past December. The new subsidiary will be led by Carnett’s founders Bruce Arnett Sr. and Bruce Arnett Jr., CEO and COO respectively.

The Arnetts will report to a board of executives and external franchising experts who will oversee the franchising efforts. Jim Amos, chairman and CEO of Tasti D-Lite, former chairman and CEO of Mail Boxes, Etc. (now the UPS Store), and past chairman of the International Franchise Association (IFA), will be chairman of the franchising board.

The total number of carwashes operating under the Mr. Clean Car Wash brand is now 16, including the two P&G-owned carwashes that opened in 2007. Three other franchise carwashes are under development.

Carnett’s, founded in 1987, has franchises throughout Georgia and one in development in North Carolina. Most of those carwashes will be branded as Mr. Clean Car Washes by summer 2009.

Carwash employee almost choked to death
A Golden Nozzle carwash employee was almost choked to death after her scarf got caught in a spinning scrubber, but a quick-thinking customer saved her life.

“I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do. I was just so scared,” said the carwash employee, Stephanie Carpluk. She tried to free herself, but was losing consciousness.

John O’Leary, a customer in line for the conveyor, got out of his car and cut her free from the machinery with a pocketknife. He then admitted CPR.

A news station’s coverage of the story made it an immediate Internet sensation this February. Within a week, it had over 2,200 views. It also made national headlines, with CNN, MSNBC and the Associated Press all reporting on the incident.

A day later, the regional director for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) branch said the agency is probing the accident, but declined to reveal any other details.

PC&D spoke with Steven Roberts, co-owner of F.L. Roberts, the company that owns the carwash, who said the carwash is cooperating with OSHA and he’s just thankful that that everything played out the way it did.

“It was an extremely unfortunate freak accident,” he said, “[but we are] incredibly thankful our employee was not hurt any worse.” Roberts said he has spoken to Stephanie, her mother and O’Leary whom he said displayed “exceptional courage and quick thinking.”

Roberts said that in the more than 30 years in the business, nothing like this has ever happened before and the company will do all they can to see that it doesn’t happen again. He said the carwash offers an extensive safety and training program that has been developed over the years.

Criminal charges filed against Pirian brothers and carwash manager
Los Angeles City Attorney Rock Delgadillo has filed criminal charges against carwash owners and brothers Benny and Nisan Pirian, and the manager of one of their four carwash locations.

The brothers and Manuel Reyes, manager of their Vermont Hand Wash location, face 176 counts of criminal misconduct.

The charges stem from an earlier effort by the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) Carwash Campaign and include conspiracy, witness intimidation, grand theft, brandishing a deadly weapon, failure to pay wages, and failure to comply with wage orders of the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission regulating workplace conditions.

As PC&D previously reported, starting in March with an investigative report in The Los Angeles Times, carwash workers and their supporters have been coming together to support union movements and to encourage the local government to take action against unsavory carwash operators.

If convicted, the Pirian brothers each could receive a maximum of 86 years in jail. The brothers also face more than $800,000 in fines against themselves and four of their carwashes — Celebrity Car Wash, Five Star Car Wash, Hollywood Car Wash and Vermont Hand Wash. The city prosecutor received evidence from 37 current and former employees from the four carwashes.

Within a day of the charges being announced, the story had become national news. For six hours, the story was a “Top Pick” on the MSN home page.

NY carwash owes workers $219,985 in back wages
Phenomena Wash LTD, dba Savvy Car Wash in Brooklyn, NY, and Glen Oak Enterprises, dba Hand Car Wash 2000 in Queens, NY, owe and will pay 58 carwash workers a total of $219,985 in back wages. Corporate officer Arthur Stein has also agreed to pay the workers.

The workers are owed for overtime back wages and interest. The U.S. Department of Labor filed the lawsuit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the period between June 1, 2005, and March 31, 2008. An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division showed overtime and recordkeeping provisions had taken place at both carwashes.

The defendants also have to pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $8,134.

The Wage and Hour Division is still trying to track down employees who are owed money.

‘World’s largest’ truck wash opens in Africa
InterClean Equipment, Inc., a manufacturer of bus and truck wash equipment and member of Tammermatic InterClean Group, recently completed the installation and start-up of a super-sized vehicle wash system in one of the most remote locations for any size carwash — the Kalahari Desert in South Africa near the Botswana border.

The world’s largest truck wash was installed at the new Khumani Mine that is owned by Assmang Ltd.

Previously, the 200 and 400-ton haul trucks carrying ore from open pit mine to the processing facility were washed by manual labor, requiring hours and sometimes even days to complete a single wash, and risking injury to the workers who could fall from scaffolds and ladders used to reach the tops of the 30-foot high trucks.

According to the company, the wash system breaks many of the records in the vehicle wash industry. It is similar in design to a regular in-bay automatic, only it has the pumping and recycling capacity reaching nearly 10,000 gallons per minute (GPM). A typical carwash facility barely reaches 300 GPM.