News from the Industry
Grace for Vets releases final tally
Grace for Vets, the program that honors all veterans and military personnel by giving them a free carwash on Veterans Day, has released its final numbers for 2011, and it looks like 119,317 free washes were given away. The total is up by about 18,000 washes compared to the previous year.
In an email sent to participants, it stated that plans are already underway for 2012. The Grace for Vets headquarters already have their promotional materials ready and are hoping to break the 2011 number with help from participants in Australia and New Zealand.
Grace for Vets was created by Mike Mountz, CEO of Cloister Carwash & Lube (Ephrata, PA) and a U.S. service veteran. During the Vietnam War, Mountz was injured and ended up at a military hospital in Valley Forge, PA. Not injured to the extent of the men and women around him, he was personally and profoundly moved by what he saw. He vowed to one day help veterans in some way. He started Grace for Vets in 2004, and since then, hundreds of carwashes have participated, and even more veterans have benefited from the program.
Town bans driveway washing for entire summer
Stage 2 watering restrictions began in Lubbock, TX, on April 1, and home carwashing will be restricted until September 30.
The water ban has led to an increase in business for mobile carwashes in the area. Uneeda Car Wash owner, Alan Lee, said the drought is unfortunate, but now his business is booming.
Uneeda is a mobile wash that tries to conserve water as much as possible. Each wash uses about seven gallons of water, and the business also conserves water by catching wash water and taking it to be recycled.
Owner nets $3.5 million from loan, mortgage fraud
Joseph N. Gagliano, 43, the owner of several carwashes in Chandler, AZ, has been accused of fraudulently obtaining $3.5 million in small business loans and of mortgage fraud.
Gagliano pleaded not guilty to the federal charges including bank fraud, wire fraud and false loan and credit applications.
The indictment states that Gagliano sought Small Business Administration loans for Fast Lane Car Wash, LLC and Fast Lane Auto Spa using his father's name and misrepresenting his father's ownership interests in the washes.
Also, Gagliano falsely represented his father when applying for loans and loan modifications for two homes.
A jury trial will begin this month, and there is a maximum penalty of 30 years for each count.
NY protests begin: Carwashing compared to slavery
Protests have gotten underway over unfair working conditions for carwash workers in New York, and employees are coming forward, proclaiming they were not only treated unfairly, but also put in danger.
One protester and carwash worker, Nelson Hernandez, said his eyes would burn for hours after he left work. Raul Perez said the soap he was forced to use would burn the hair off of his legs. Carlos Garcia also said that he asked if he could have some gloves and a mask to wear, but was ignored. All three men said they were afraid to report the claims because they feared they would lose their jobs. But, now, saying that they feel they have suffered enough, all are proud to be a part of the protests against unfair employee situations in and throughout New York City.
As PC&D previously reported, a coalition of community and labor organizations started a campaign meant to reform illegal practices within the carwash business. Dan Morris, communications director for the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, said that workers from across the city are meeting to discuss their concerns and share their interest in transforming the carwash industry.
A similar campaign in Los Angeles resulted in agreements between a few California carwashes and their workers.
Drums were played and signs were hoisted by former and current workers outside of the Metro Car Wash in Forest Hills, NY. Ana Maria Archila, executive director of Make the Road New York, thanked those who attended the rally and compared the conditions to slavery.
Queens Councilman James Sanders, chairman of the Council's civil service and labor committee, said that he would push to set up a hearing to hear testimony on how employees were unfairly treated.
Three washes sued by CA for over $2 million
Two lawsuits were filed against three carwashes in Los Angeles by the California Labor Commissioner. The lawsuits are for unpaid wages, penalties and damages, and they total in excess of $2 million. Labor Standards Enforcement conducted investigations and found that Rosencrans King Car Wash, Wilshire Car Wash and Vermont Auto Spa all violated state laws.
The lawsuits allege violations of minimum wage, overtime and record keeping laws as well as failure to issue itemized wage deduction statements. Further, Vermont Auto Spa was also found in violation of meal and rest period requirements.
The complaint against Rosencrans King Car Wash alleges that the wash did not pay workers for all the hours they worked, and the suit seeks almost $1.7 million in minimum wage, overtime, penalties and attorney fees.
7 Flags Car Wash now runs on solar power
The 7 Flags Car Wash in Vallejo, CA, is now running on solar power, thanks to a newly installed 58KW Solar Power System. The wash will now use 40 percent less energy from the state's electrical grid.
Jack Anthony III, president and CEO of 7 Flags Car Wash, said in a statement, "Our continual effort in protecting and preserving the environment by using renewable energy has led us to this [58KW Solar Power System] next step."
Anthony hopes other companies will make similar strides towards saving the environment. In 2009, 7 Flags because the first "Green Certified" carwash in Solano County, CA.