Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Industry Watch

March 27, 2014

Association News

ICA announces Carwash Show Europe

CHICAGO — The International Carwash Association® (ICA) has announced plans for a new show: Carwash Show Europe, which will take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on Oct. 5-7, 2015, at the RAI Exhibition Center, according to a press release.

“We’re incredibly excited to be launching Carwash Show Europe,” Eric Wulf, the ICA CEO, stated in the press release. “While there are other events with a carwash subsection in Europe, this is the only event that is focused on the entire carwash business and the full European market.”

Carwash Show Europe “is a seminal event in our association’s history ICA Board Chairman, Gary Dennis, stated exclusively to PC&D. He added there is a need for an event focused in Europe, and there's no current event like the one that the ICA will provide.

Dennis sees this event as an evolution in the carwash industry. “Our industry benefits when carwashing becomes more professional around the world. Successful trade shows allow us to provide new and expanded products to our members,” he told PC&D.

The networking and educational experiences at the event will be greatly beneficial to members of the carwash industry, according to Dennis, and it is also a chance for ICA’s international members to finally attend a show. He said that “the response [to the show] thus far has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Dennis said more and more washes are doing business internationally, and this show will give a chance for an operator in Kansas to connect with a wash owner is England, for example.

Vendors in particular, are doing business internationally, with two-thirds of ICA vendors having some business outside of the U.S. This event will give them a chance to expand into new markets to an even greater degree. “A carwash show by the industry, for the industry is likely to draw the best quality attendance for vendor members giving them more direct access to compete internationally,” he said.

While the show is for the European market, Dennis expects the U.S. market to have a presence there as well. “We have already received interest from some of our U.S. based vendors, so I would expect a strong showing from any of our vendors who see the opportunity” in attending.

A main reason for the show in Europe is because of the changes to the European carwash market, Dennis told PC&D. “Like the U.S. in years past, many entrepreneurs are entering the business.” He said the trends are clear, and that there is a need for a show in the European market.

Dennis said the show will have a great impact, and bring in people from the carwash industry from all over. “We expect to attract attendees from a fairly wide geographic area” and Amsterdam, is a “world-class” exhibition city, according to Dennis.

The European show will include educational seminars, a trade fair and networking events. Partnering up with the European event are the German carwash association, BTB, PetrolWorld Magazine and others.

WCA joins the ICA in sponsoring The Car Wash Show™

In more ICA news, the Western Carwash Association will be a participant at the 2015 Car Wash Show™, and cease to run its own event, which for the past few years was held in San Diego. Wulf  said in a press release that the “WCA has been a valued partner in our WaterSavers®program since 2009, and this step further strengthens the relationship between our organizations.”

WCA President, Brad Hooper, said in the press release that this move is about more than just the tradeshow. “WCA is most impactful at the regional and local level, helping operators with networking, advocacy and learning opportunities,” he said. “Entering into this agreement with the ICA allows us to participate financially in The Carwash Show, which gives us additional opportunities to expand our focus locally and bring new added value to our members.”

By partnering up, Wulf said, “we can reduce a substantial amount of vendor's expenses in the form of marketing, planning, freight, drayage, travel, entertainment and exhibit space fees.”

Hooper told PC&D he believes the partnership will improve the 2014 WCA show, which takes place in Las Vegas on Oct. 28-30. “This will be the only carwash tradeshow out West this year. Because of that, our show will appeal to an even greater audience who have a pent up desire to interact with our vendor and supplier members who will be exhibiting all the latest in carwash technology and advancements.”

Hooper added that the 2014 show will have additional education components this year, and will have great networking opportunities for members.

The new partnership with the ICA will improve things at the local level for WCA members, Hooper added, and the WCA will be able to “reallocate resources to a multitude of issues facing our membership on a local level, including legislative/regularly, advocacy, drought/environmental education and avocation.”

There has been consolidation in the tradeshow industry for years, and Hooper said the time was right to partner with the ICA. He saw the two shows as running in similar territories before, with ICA doing shows in Las Vegas for many years, and thinks this will be a good thing for WCA members. “Our partnership with the ICA will allow us to continue to have an identify at The Carwash Show and focus more acutely on our members needs not only at the show, but year-round through more regional events.”

The new partnership will also help the WCA in putting more resources into different areas, Hooper said. “We envision our staff and board will be better resourced to taking on these issues more directly than if we were solely responsible for putting on a tradeshow each year.” He added that the WCA will be able to get pertinent information to its members more quickly under the new system. 

Hooper believes the WCA members will embrace the partnership, and it’ll be a win-win for everyone involved. “Remember,” he told PC&D, “the WCA show isn’t going away, we have simply chosen to come together as a partner and co-sponsor of an even larger show with the ICA starting in 2015.”

CA carwashes impacted by surety bond increase

FOLSOM, Calif. — On Jan. 1, California law changed from carwash owners needing to put down a $15,000 surety bond to one for the amount of $150,000, according to a press release.

Many carwashes, especially smaller ones, are having a difficult time coming up with the money for the bond.

In the release, the Western Carwash Association (WCA) states that it “is currently in the process of working with lawmakers and other stakeholders in Sacramento on legislation to reduce the bond requirement while increasing penalties for operating outside of the law.”

Sander Romick, chairperson of the legislative committee of the WCA agrees that employers who are not following the law in regards to worker treatment deserve to be punished. However, he thinks the law is punishing the wrong people. “Those that usually break labor laws and pay inadequate wages to their employees are unlikely to be bonded anyways,” he said in the release.

Romick doesn’t believe all washes deserve to be punished because of those that don't follow the law. “Increasing the surety bond does not get at the heart of the problem and winds up punishing legitimate carwash businesses,” he stated in the press release.

The organization is encouraging its members, and also non-members, to voice their opinions to lawmakers.

Below are some suggestions and talking points that the WCA encourages California carwash operators to use when contacting their representatives in both the California Assembly and Senate:

  • Introduce yourself as a constituent who has been affected by last year's legislation, AB 1387, which increased the surety bond requirements for carwashes by 1000%, from $15,000 to $150,000.
  • Feel free to share the impact this requirement has had on your business. Have you been able to secure a new bond? Has the premium increased? Has this affected any hiring decisions you’ve had to make thus far? Will this affect any decisions you need to make regarding current employees?
  • Let the office know that you support your employees and want bad-actors (carwashes that operate outside the law) penalized but that last year's legislation targets those who are licensed instead of those who are not.
  • Ask your legislator to contact Assemblyman Roger Hernandez regarding this issue and encourage him to work with the carwash industry on a new bill that makes sense for both workers and carwash operators.

Company News

A look back: The story behind the 66-year-old Erie Brush

Before car culture exploded in the U.S., 4-year old Dan Pecora got his start in the family business, making brushes by hand with his father in the basement of their Milwaukee, Wis., home.

By night Pecora’s father made brushes, and by day would sell them to anyone who would buy them. The year was 1948. Little did Pecora know that, over 60 years later, he would be the owner of one of the largest manufacturers of brush and vehicle detailing supplies to the international carwash industry, Chicago-Ill.-based Erie Brush.

The Pecora’s brush business grew along with 1950s car culture and the carwash industry, as America’s highways beckoned and hot rodders rebuilt their cars and raced them into the future.

“I’ve seen the carwash industry adapt car conveyors from Henry Ford’s Detroit auto plants, when dozens of men labored by hand to clean inside and outside the vehicles,” Pecora said. “I’ve seen the rise of exterior only washes in the early 1960s develop into the automated, express washes with the entry gates of today. I’ve seen self-serve carwash bays proliferate.”

One important change from the carwash customer’s point of view, according to Pecora, is a shift from a focus on white-wall tires to a focus on wheels.

“In the 1950s, drivers cared about keeping their tires’ 5-inch white walls spotless, which was tough to do when they rubbed up against a curb,” Pecora said. “Today, the focus is less on tires than on keeping custom wheels clean and shiny. That’s equally hard to do, when wheels can have so many hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.”

Having grown up with brushes in his DNA, so to speak, Pecora put his mind to creating two brushes for conveyor carwashes specially designed to clean tires and wheels.

Having been part of the carwash industry since its start, Pecora has provided carwash owners with brushes in a variety of materials over the decades: From natural fibers such as hog’s hair in the 1940s, to plastic extruded filaments such as polyethylene and nylon in the 1950s, to cloth materials in the 1960s and 1970s, to foam materials in the late 1990s.

According to Pecora, as important as using the right tool for the job, whether machine, brush, or soap, is having intimate knowledge of what carwash customers want.

“Carwash owners know their customers want speed, convenience, quality, and value,” said Pecora. “That means getting customers through quickly. But it can also mean a light touch, running rotating brush speed slower and soap/water solution higher. This can eliminate noise and roughness as the customer rides through the conveyor wash inside their own car, and that enhances the customer experience.

By Del Williams, a technical writer based in Torrance, Calif.

People News

Mitch Wade, of Oasis Carwash Systems, dies in fatal accident

GALENA, Kan. — Mitch “Cobb” Wade, 53, died on Feb. 22 following a fatal accident, according to a statement on the Oasis Carwash Systems website.

The statement reads: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of our brother, best friend and co-worker, Mitch Wade. On Saturday afternoon, February 22nd, Mitch suffered fatal injuries from an accident while working on the farm he loved. Our prayers go out to his wife Kristi, sons Dustin and Derek, and granddaughter Laikyn."

PureCars hires vice president of sales

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Jeff Ranalli, formerly of Carfax, is excited for his new job as vice president of sales for PureCars, according to a press release.

“I’m looking forward to finding top talent and furthering the rapid success of PureCars,” he said in the release.

PureCars' Founder and CEO Jeremy Anspach said in the press release that he’s “proud of our team and confident Jeff will use his leadership background to take our incredible sales organization to the next level.”

PureCars is an automotive technology company that provides information on the car buying experience.

MacNeil Carwash Systems has hired Southeast U.S. sales manager

BARRIE, Ontario — Matt Nall has joined MacNeil and will be the new Southeast U.S. sales manager, according to a press release.

Nall has been in the carwash business for more than 12 years, and spent time at companies like CSI and Zep Vehicle Care.

MacNeil’s Vice President of Sales Anthony Antonis, said in the press release, “Matt’s hiring is a testament to MacNeil’s commitment to investing in talented individuals to grow market share and delivering value for our distributors and end.”

Nall stated in the release that he “couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity.”

Istobal USA appoints new national sale manager

BRISTOL, Va. — CEO Jimmy Sisk announced the appointment of Mike O’Donnell as the new national sale manager of Istobal USA, a press release reported.

Mike O’Donnell served as sales manager for the Western Region of the U.S. prior to his appointment as national sales manager, according to the press release.

"Mike’s career includes over 20 years in the carwash industry,” Sisk stated in the release. "He brings a diverse background of sales, operations and project management ... we look forward to Mr. O’Donnell’s experience and insights to complement our expanding business.”

New director of acquisitions for Mister Carwash

TUCSON, Ariz. — In 2013, Casey Lindsay was made the director of acquisitions for Mister Carwash, and the company is now explaining the capacity of his role, according to a press release.

The position will be responsible for expanding current markets, and working on targeting and establishing new markets. Lindsay will report directly to CEO of Mister, John Lai.

Lindsay worked for numerous companies in the field of acquisitions, including Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and most recently, managed the acquisition process for Connect Hearing, which is the largest retail audiology practice in the U.S.

Mister Carwash is the largest carwash chain in the United States, operating 128 carwashes and 32 express lubes in 13 states. The company is headquartered in Tucson and has nearly 4,500 employees, servicing over 13 million vehicles annually.

David Krause, founder and presidentof Cleaning Systems Incorporated, offers up advice for carwash owners

By Mike Perry and Debra Gorgos

PC&D: What is the best piece of advice you have for your carwash owners?

David Krause: Providing a clean, shiny, dry car is the most important thing you can do for your business. You must provide the end product that the consumer is looking for when stopping at your location. If you don’t provide that, the consumer will find someone else who does.

PC&D: What mistakes do you suggest they avoid making?

David Krause: Trying to reduce their solution costs with a lower quality product. They often fail to recognize that the quality of the solution directly impacts the quality of the clean, shiny, dry car that is desired. Quality solutions provide a quality, finished product that will be the insurance for long term customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Chemical solutions are also a very small percentage of the overall cost of operating a carwash when considering other costs, such as the facility, utilities, water, labor and maintenance costs. The solution cost savings may not be the best way to cut costs when compared to other areas of the business.

PC&D: What ways do you recommend carwash owners interact with suppliers?

David Krause: Carwash owners should deal with suppliers that want to be business partner. The supplier should provide solutions, recommendations and full package of services to help ensure the carwash operator is successful and profitable at all of their sites. The supplier should also be able to provide reports that substantiate what they have done at the wash to increase the performance and minimize the overall solution costs.

PC&D: What do you think the future holds for carwash owners? Where is the industry heading?

David Krause: Any successful business owner needs to continually transition their business in response to the consumer’s wants and the new technologies made available to them to operate their business.

The industry is still poised for growth. The number of do-it-yourself carwashers is still great. These potential customers will be influenced by changing circumstances. Busy lives and environmental concerns especially, related to water conservation have the potential to drive more consumers toward the professional carwash.

PC&D: What has impressed you the most about the carwash industry the past five years?

Dave Krause: The innovation of the carwash operator has impressed me. The combination of a weak economy, high gas prices and difficult weather patterns has created some of the most difficult conditions for operators in several decades. However, through these difficult times the carwash operators as well as suppliers have looked for ways to overcome these challenges. The advancement in technology both in ultra concentrated chemicals and the delivery systems has been able to better assist the carwash operators, which they openly welcome.

PC&D: What has surprised or even inspired you the most about the carwash industry the past five years?

Dave Krause: Resiliency and character. I’ve seen carwash professionals streamline their business for efficiencies and invest in marketing and sales programs to attract new customers. They have even looked closer at their employees for better training and development to attract and retain quality employees that can carry their business forward through the more difficult times. It is inspiring to see an operator not afraid to get more involved and seek better solutions rather than following the same path.

PC&D: What percentage of your current customers has at least one properly trained person who is specifically tasked to increase carwash revenue?

Dave Krause: Producing a great product is the surest way to growing a great business. In our industry, the “product” is a clean, dry and shiny vehicle. Having a properly trained employee responsible for producing a consistently high quality product will drive customer retention, create a reputation and grow the business through word of mouth or social media.

PC&D: Would you like to see the carwash industry develop something like a J. D. Power Award for product performance and excellence?

Dave Krause: It is always a compliment when a committee in your industry recognizes company achievements. The carwash industry has the Brian Campbell Leadership in Innovation Award, a prestigious award in our industry. The award is dedicated to recognizing leaders and innovators in the industry. I’m happy to say that CSI has won this prestigious award in 2011 for the revolutionary Ultraflex system.

PC&D: Do you see any real or potential threat looming in an uncertain future, which could negatively impact suppliers?

Dave Krause: The economy is still uncertain and there is always fear that we will slide back into a recession. When the economy is down, operators start to look for cheaper chemical solutions to use in their wash. The one thing that needs to be kept in mind is the bigger picture. It’s not just about the size of the container, it’s about the amount of usage you can get out of it and, most importantly, how effective it is at satisfying your customer.

PC&D: How much more revenue would operators generate if they had a marketing plan? How would that impact chemical sales?

Dave Krause: A well-executed marketing plan is key to building a customer base and increasing revenue. An important part of the plan is to deliver what you are marketing. The consumer needs to be informed of the premium products that the operator is using at the wash and if they are environmentally friendly. Appealing to the consumer can increase your revenue by increasing your customer loyalty. Also, it is important to advertise specials or special events that are happening. Finally, being a part of the community and getting the carwash name known can accelerate trust with potential customers.