Jim Belanger dies
James A. Belanger, founder of Belanger, Inc., passed away on May 1. He was 76.
Belanger is credited in the industry for having introduced soft cloth to carwashing and held dozens of industry-related patents.
He started Belanger Inc. in 1969 as a coated abrasives manufacturing company and later introduced a line of carwash equipment in the 1970s. Several family members, including his brother, Bud, joined him in the carwash business and the company is now run by the second-generation.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, brother, Bud, two sisters Gay and Michelle, as well as five children, Gigi, Lee, Jimmy, Richard and Julie, and nine grandchildren.
Study: Most Americans wash at home
A survey of over 2,500 American consumers seems to be at odds with the most recent research from the International Carwash Association (ICA), claiming that 62 percent of Americans are washing their vehicles at home to save money.
A similar ICA study found that only 38 percent of consumers were washing their vehicles at home in 2005. There are notable differences in the methodology of the two reports as Jeff Byma, marketing and communications director for the association, pointed out in an e-mail to Professional Carwashing & Detailing. The ICA’s survey is much more thorough, while a 3M study offered no estimates of theoretical sampling errors.
According to 3M Car Care’s “Elbow Grease Economics: A Study of American Driving Trends,” the dramatic shift towards “do-it-yourself” services, from carwashing to oil changes, is due to the rise in fuel prices.
The study also found:
- Nearly 70 percent of female baby boomers say they would wash their car at home to save money;
- Families making between $50,000 and $75,000 ranked highest (68 percent) in performing their carwashing at home to save money.
Other tasks car owners are doing at home include repairing or replacing windshield wipers or headlights (57 percent), using at-home tune-up kits instead of paying for tune-ups (16 percent), and making repairs to their car’s exterior (11 percent).
Mace subsidiary charged with conspiracy
A federal grand jury has charged Car Care Inc., a subsidiary of Mace Security International Inc., and five of its managers with conspiracy to defraud the government, to harbor undocumented workers and to commit identity theft.
Car Care Inc., which operated full-service carwashes in Norristown, Flourtown, Bryn Mawr and Cherry Hill, NJ, under the Super Bright name, engaged in a scheme from 2000 to March 2006 to hire undocumented workers by giving them false names and a way to cash their checks at local banks without showing identification.
Its corporate parent, Mace, was at one time the second largest conveyor carwash operator in the nation. The company has since sold most of its locations, including those mentioned in the indictment.
The indictment said Car Care managers are also alleged to have intentionally refrained from filing termination papers when undocumented workers quit so that the names of former employees could be given to new undocumented workers in order to keep the scheme going.
The government alleged that Mace was aware that many undocumented workers were employed at its carwashes but didn’t thoroughly investigate the matter. U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan said that on any given day, up to 90 percent of the workers at the four carwashes were undocumented workers and most were paid minimum wage or better.
In March 2006, Professional Carwashing & Detailing reported that federal agents arrested 57 undocumented workers at various Mace carwash locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Fourteen of those workers have already been deported.
Dilling-Harris sold to Grant Sales
Dilling-Harris, Inc. has sold its self-serve carwash manufacturing company to Grant Sales, Inc. in a deal that was completed April 7.
Dilling-Harris, founded in 1975, has worldwide distribution of carwash equipment, parts, service and supplies. Brad Harris and Bryan Harris, formerly the sole shareholders of Dilling-Harris, Inc., will remain with the company as financial and manufacturing consultants, respectively.
Grant Sales, Inc. was founded by Cindy and Harry Bauge in 1976 and grew to be one of the largest regional carwash distributors, manufacturers and operators in the Southwest. The company is headquartered in Plano, TX, and is currently managed by second-generation family members, Melissa and Tod Garrett.
Chris Woolsey has been named vice president of Dilling-Harris, Inc. where he will assume responsibility for the company’s manufacturing and technical support activities.
Charges filed in carwash union push
Charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Vermont Hand Wash after a worker said he was fired by owner Benny Pirian for speaking out about unfair conditions he witnessed at one carwash.
Jose Torres, the worker who said he was employed at a Pirian family carwash for more than three years and was paid between $35 and $40 for a 10-hour workday, joined the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in boycotting Pirian family carwashes in the Los Angeles area a few months ago.
Carwash workers and supporters, including the federation, have been campaigning against the Pirian-owned washes because they believe workers there were being treated unfairly. Boycotts of Los Angeles-based washes, including the Hollywood Car Wash, Vermont Hand Wash, and Celebrity Car Wash, were enacted as well as ones against the Five Star Car Wash in Northridge, CA, Lawndale Car Wash in Lawndale, CA, and Magic Wand Car Wash in Huntington Park, CA.
Mike’s will open 37th site this month
Mike’s Express Carwash, the fourth largest conveyor carwash chain in the nation, is hoping to double its size over the next seven to 10 years, and might expand into Kentucky and Illinois.
Family owned and operated Mike’s currently has 36 sites in Indiana and Ohio and is planning to open its 37th site some time this month. CEO Bill Dahm estimates each new site will cost around $3.5 million. Dahm said the plan is to add two to three sites a year, a “controlled and profitable growth.”
Currently, the company is focused on renovation, starting with the first Mike’s Express Carwash location, based in Fort Wayne, IN. The site is getting a $500,000 facelift, including a new building façade, technology, concrete, a new roof and signs.
Association will test reclaim water
The Australian Car Wash Association will be researching the efficiency of present and possible future water-saving technologies thanks to a $244,000 grant from the State Government’s Smart Water Fund.
ACWA manager Peter Maine said the research would focus on using recycled water for commercial carwashes. “There’s actually been no definitive study done by anybody on recycled water before,” he said.
The ACWA has commissioned environmental consultant Ecowise to conduct tests over the next 18 months on both potable and recycled water.
“The research is specifically geared to say, if you are using a particular type of recycling process, what’s the effect of using class A (recycled sewerage water) rather than town water through that process,” Maine explained.
The country, which has suffered drought for a number of years now, is also contending with a recent outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that was tied to a self-serve carwash in Hoppers Crossing, Australia. The ACWA has since said the self-serve carwash did not use a water reclaim system, but that the Legionella bacteria were found in the wash’s hot water holding tanks.
Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment, mainly in water and soil. Their existence can increase markedly in man-made aquatic environments with warm, circulating water, such as air-conditioning cooling towers. Symptoms of the potentially fatal disease include headaches, fever, chills, coughs and muscle aches and pains.
Most recently, in August 2007, PC&D reported a contaminated bus washing facility in Albany, NY, caused two workers to become infected with Legionnaires’ disease.
P&G: Third carwash will be different
Procter & Gamble (P&G) will open its third and most different carwash in downtown Cincinnati.
Pete McIndoe, the P&G executive overseeing the carwashes, said the newest wash will use a formula capable of cleaning a car with less water that what goes in a typical bottle of water.
The company's first carwash opened last June in Mason, OH, for $3.3 million and now has 50 employees. The second wash opened in October in Evendale, OH. Both feature carwashes that are more than 8,000-sq.-ft. with fully stocked gift shops and waiting lounges equipped with flat screen televisions, wireless Internet and coffee bars.