A Q&A with the managing director of Blendco Systems
Debra Gorgos: What are operators and owners looking and asking for right now with chemicals?
Brent McCurdy: Operators and owners want products that are a solid value and deliver performance. Most smart operators learn quickly if they buy just based on price that quality slips — quality of their cars and quality of their service. Times can change and costs can drive operators to look for new answers but one thing doesn’t change — if you can find a supplier with amazing knowledge and skills in the art of getting a clean, dry, vehicle there is no savings that makes that worth sacrificing because the costs will outweigh the benefits.
Debra Gorgos: Is being eco-friendly still important?
Brent McCurdy: The real question isn’t whether it was still important the question is was it ever important? The reality is that the industry is for the most part environmentally responsible enough that this eco-friendly question which seems so important never really was for most operators. Let me clarify some more: If you asked a supplier if five or 10 years ago whether the average operator purchased based on the environment the answer would have to be no. Yes, some operators it was very important for — was that 5 percent? Maybe. The assumption is and was and still is that suppliers are supplying solutions that are environmentally acceptable, and carwash customers for the most part like to assume the same, and so the industry never was and isn’t driven by the need for more environmentally or eco-friendly products.
Is it nice to see a green leaf or a sign that says this customer recycles its water? YES. Does this make customers feel good? YES. But it is and was and will be most important whether those eco-friendly options save money. If recycling water saves money, it's something we do. If buying eco-friendly products work and don’t cost much more — we buy them…but the industry wont pay more because it's eco-friendly.
Debra Gorgos: What is the biggest mistake that owners and operators make with chemicals?
Brent McCurdy: The biggest mistake they make is buying based on price per drum. Most operators accept a certain cost/gallon range for products. If $16 a gallon is what they hear a lot they accept that range, but if someone was selling something for $30 a gallon they assume its expensive. It's hard for many operators to really understand that a product that is twice as much could cost half as much to use for the same results. Because they don’t have the tools to look inside that container and see the actual activity they often resort to their gut or common sense them that one is more expensive if it costs more per gallon but this often just isn’t the case.
Debra Gorgos: What advice do you have for new owners starting out, when it comes to choosing their chemicals?
Brent McCurdy: My advice is not just to blindly trust your distributor and to really shop around for what separates chemical suppliers from one another. Find someone who acts and sells like a consultant not like a soap jocky. Ask for a cost per car comparison. Ask for how the chemical compares verses the industry standard in terms of usage and strength. Make chemicals something you are more than casually informed about. The spectrum of what is possible with chemistry is wider than most operators imagine it is. Not only are not all chemical suppliers the same, they are not even close to offering the same level of knowledge, service or innovation.
Brent McCurdy is the managing director of Blendco Systems, a manufacturer and supplier of a full line of vehicle cleaning products, based out of Bristol, PA.