Around the Industry - February 2013
Cherry ceases all carwash operations
SAN FRANCISCO — Carwashing startup Cherry shut down its operations as of Dec. 23 so it could “pursue an exciting opportunity.” The company also claims to be looking at “alternate options for the Cherry carwash business.”
CEO Travis VanderZanden would not give out many details about the company’s new direction, but he clarified it would not be a revamped version of the carwash service.
The company raised $5.25 million from Shasta Ventures, Founders Fund and others. The company will refund everyone who prepaid for a carwash and will work with Groupon and LivingSocial to refund customers who paid through the group-buying services.
City rejects new wash due to noise report
WILMETTE, IL — Village trustees told a gas station’s owners that they can’t build a carwash because the noise would disturb nearby residents.
The trustees unanimously rejected zoning requests that the owners made. Sound levels projected by a consultant showed the trustees that the wash would generate enough noise to affect the quality of life for residents nearby.
Even promises that the carwash doors would be closed during operation did not sway the group. Yet, the trustees said they hoped the station could find a different additional use to add to the small lot.
Co-owner Mohammed Yagoob said the owners need an additional income source to make the operation profitable. Residents close to the gas station said they respected the owners’ request for a c-store and extra gas pump, but they opposed the carwash.
Original plans also called for the addition of a Dunkin Donuts location, but the franchise was left behind when the village officials told the owners to downsize the project.
Employees at two more washes join union
QUEENS, NY – Nine months after launching a campaign to battle unfair workplace treatment in the carwash industry, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) gained more carwash employees..
The union announced employees from Sutphin Carwash in Jamaica and Lage Car Wash in SoHo had joined the crusade to battle unfair wages and gain safer working conditions on Nov. 22.
“The old way of doing business at these establishments are over. Carwash workers across the city have had enough and are fighting back against abusive conditions,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement to the press. “The RWDSU is proud of these workers and will continue to support them — whether it be at the negotiation table or the picket line — as they stand up for a better future for their families.”
The campaign is part of a larger movement throughout New York City that seeks an end to workplace abuse. A recent survey determined that 71 percent of New York City’s carwash employees worked at least 60 hours per week, with some totaling 105 hours. About 75 percent of workers did not receive any overtime pay for time exceeding 40 hours per week.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is currently investigating the abuses in an attempt to bring New York City carwashes to compliance with New York State labor laws.
'Skimmer' problem plagues carwash owner
PLAINVIEW, TX ― A carwash owner is trying to figure out if "skimming" occurred at his business and whether his customers' credit card information has been compromised.
“Skimming" is when an object is placed on a card-reading machine, such as an ATM or pay station, allowing the user to steal debit and credit card information.
Express Care Car Wash owner Newt Harrell said he has hired a forensic investigator to look into the matter and his financial system is now being scanned on a daily basis to check for anything unusual.
Harrell said he is worried people will look at the wash negatively now and said he would never knowingly do anything to hurt anybody.
Owner adding solar technology to three washes
TILTON, IL — The owner of three Super Wash franchises here will add solar technology to all his locations.
Owner Richard Nevels said a solar voltaic system will be added to the wash in Tilton. In Catlin and Georgetown, the carwashes will have the solar voltaic and solar thermal systems installed.
The thermal systems will heat the floors, soap and polish as well as the overhead hose and rail to prevent freezing. The solar voltaic systems will collect solar energy and feed it into the Ameren Illinois network, thus cutting energy bills.
Nevels noted that the systems would trim 40 to 50 percent of his utility costs at the washes and his payback will be four to five years on the investment.
The project was made possible after Nevels won federal and state grants totaling approximately $100,000. In addition, Nevels expects to get a $50,000 federal tax credit for the project. Overall, the investment will require $200,000.
This is the second time Nevels has embarked on a solar project. The Tilton location had a solar thermal system installed in 2010.
Lawmakers make public pay for detailing, repairs
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, GA — Taxpayers here sank nearly $6,000 into a state senator’s provided vehicle right before he purchased it for personal use.
State-provided vehicle perks ended for CA senators a year ago, and many senators chose to purchase those vehicles for personal use. Bob Dutton, the former Senate minority leader, spent almost $6,000 of public funds on his provided vehicle before buying it.
Dutton spent $5,984 of state money on four new tires, various repairs and a full detail of the 2005 Chevy Tahoe. The state then sold the vehicle to a private dealer for $11,000, and Dutton bought it for $12,681.
The vehicle perk ended after a commission decided it was an unwarranted benefit. But, 36 lawmakers opted to have work done using taxpayer money in the final months before the perk ended. Then, they purchased the vehicles.
Man charged with stealing drain grates
ROGERSVILLE, TN ― Joel Brian Morelock, 26, has been charged with stealing metal drain grates from multiple area carwashes.
Morelock stole $2,300 worth of grates. He was arrested on Saturday. He allegedly stole grates from the Quick Car Wash and the Rub A Dub carwash.
All of the stolen grates were found in Morelock's truck.
CHPD Chief Johnson said the thefts created a dangerous situation as the grates left large openings in the grounds of the carwashes which were also at least 2 feet deep.
Update: Manager fined for exploiting employees
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The former manager of a carwash here who underpaid young foreign workers has been fined $9,000 AUS.
The Federal Magistrate Court ruled Elliot Ban acted with “gross irresponsibility” by exploiting vulnerable employees. The magistrate found that Ban underpaid 62 casual workers a total of $99,646 AUS between December 2009 and July 2010.
The workers were mainly young Asians on student or working holiday visas who spoke little English. Fair Work inspectors discovered the underpayments when they investigated an employee complaint.
On the eve of the prosecution, Ban paid $27,715 AUS in back pay to six workers he was able to locate.
Ban leased the carwash from the Crystal Car Wash Café Pty Ltd and its director and part-owner Anthony Sahade. The Fair Work Ombudsman announced in November it would prosecute that company and Sahade as well for underpayment of 359 workers.