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News from the Industry

October 11, 2010
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CA shuts down nine carwashes
Nine carwashes face closure after California Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet filed lawsuits to shut them down for failing to register with the state.

California carwashes are required to register with the state as part of the California Carwash Worker Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004 when AB 1688 was passed in the aftermath of a television station’s undercover investigation of Los Angeles-based carwashes.

Under the law, carwashes are required to register with the state and to document their payroll, and workers may file wage and/or retaliation claims with the Labor Commissioner when their employers violate employment laws. The law was extended in 2007 when SB 1468 was passed.

The operators and carwashes are:

  • Jose Orlando Benitez, dba Galaxy Detailing Hand Car Wash, Los Angeles County;
  • Francisco Ramirez, dba Javi’s Car Wash, Los Angeles County;
  • Trimax Melrose Inc. dba Melrose Car Wash, Los Angeles County;
  • Auto Spa Express Inc. dba Sunset Car Wash, Los Angeles County;
  • Sahara Car Wash, Los Angeles County;
  • Neo Brothers Inc. dba Lynwood Car Wash, Los Angeles County;
  • Zobeida Cabellero Zepeda, dba A & F Auto Detail, Santa Clara County;
  • Harvey Corral and Lorena Corral, dba Corral’s Auto Detail, Santa Clara County; and
  • San Francisco Car Wash LLC, dba Winning Finish Car Wash, San Francisco County.

Guinness World Record recognizes “world’s largest carwash”
CarStar, a chain of collision repair shops throughout the United States and Canada, now holds the Guinness World Record for the “world’s largest carwash.”

On June 20, 150 CarStar locations participated in an all-day carwash fundraiser as part of its Soaps It Up National Car Wash event to raise money for various charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation® and Cystic Fibrosis. Over 4,000 cars were washed within eight hours at the various sites, setting a new world record. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to the charities.

CarStar did not specify if measures were taken to ensure the parking lot carwashes were conducted in an environmentally friendly and safe manner. Previously, 3M had announced it would offer car care tips to those who brought their cars in for a wash.

CARSTAR is the largest group of branded collision repair centers in North America with over 400 locally owned and operated locations in 27 states and 10 Canadian provinces.

Pirian brothers will pay fines in OSHA lawsuit
Benny and Nisan Pirian, operators of Vermont Car Wash and Hollywood Car Wash, agreed at a Cal/OSHA Appeals Board hearing to pay $20,000 in fines to settle citations for health and safety violations.

The agreement was made at the May 26 meeting where carwash workers were represented by the CLEAN Carwash Campaign.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing has followed the Pirian case for over a year now. In an earlier story, Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh said, “Carwashes and other operations using energized machinery and hazardous chemicals have specific requirements they must meet to control exposure and prevent accidents. Serious injuries or even fatal accidents can be caused by this kind of work if employers fail to protect employees from the types of hazards we found.”

The Pirians will also withdraw their appeal of the citations and will now hire a health and safety consultant and will implement a training program to keep workers aware of the hazardous chemicals found at washes.

Henry Huerta, CLEAN Carwash Campaign director said, "We applaud Cal/OSHA for their defense of these citations. There are many other carwash operators in the L.A. area with similar safety problems and we hope that Cal/OSHA will take strong action against those as well.”

GA drought is over
State officials have relaxed water restrictions throughout Georgia and Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has announced “The drought is over.”

However, there are a few lingering restrictions in place and the state is still urging residents to maintain conservation habits which have cut water use by 15 percent over the past two and a half years. Home carwashing is now allowed under the non-drought water rules.

“We were faced with the drought,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said during a press conference about the relaxed rules, “which, I think, was a wake-up call. I would hope that Georgia would continue, on a continuing basis, to educate itself and hold each other accountable.

“I liken it, frankly, to seatbelts,” he said. “This is a generational, educational issue.”

Ceccato and MacNeil team up
Ceccato S.p.A. (Italy) and MacNeil Wash Systems Limited (Canada), both manufacturers of carwash equipment, have entered into a strategic cooperation agreement where Ceccato will market, sell and support MacNeil tunnel systems through the Ceccato distributor network in Europe as well as certain other international markets.

As earlier reported, the new relationship was launched at the Autopromotec carwash exhibition held in Bologna, Italy, at the end of May.

The companies said in a joint release, “The large range of cleaning solutions manufactured and distributed by the Ceccato Group will be enhanced by the introduction of heavy-duty and high productivity tunnel wash systems designed and manufactured by MacNeil in North America.”

The alliance foresees the marketing of MacNeil products through the Ceccato distribution network, and provides, among Ceccato's other tunnel washing systems, a new level of offering for the market. The MacNeil carwash systems will be branded MacNeil-Ceccato for the European market.

Future of the world’s largest carwash chain is still uncertain
Senior and junior lenders may face off in court now that an attempted sale and restructuring bid have failed for the world’s largest known carwash chain, IMO Car Wash.

IMO has 900 carwash sites in 14 countries, and washes more than 33 million vehicles a year across Europe. It operates 300 sites across the United Kingdom under the name Arc Clean Car Centres, but its biggest presence is in Germany where it has 335 IMO sites.

Senior lenders have proposed a debt-for-equity swap where they would seize control of the company from present owner Carlyle Group in exchange for a big cut in the value of its debts. Junior lenders would see their debts written off, left only with warrants to be used in the case of a stock sale or flotation, and a share in the company's future profits.

Senior lenders are arguing the value of IMO is now less than the amount it owes them, meaning they have control of the company’s future and junior debt holders have no economic interest left in the company. The senior lenders arrived to this conclusion after a failed sales process and an earlier restructuring bid from present owner Carlyle Group helped establish a market price for the company.

Junior lenders have countered that the amount is higher and valuations are more difficult in the present market because of a lack of buyers and credit.