Professional Carwashing & Detailing

A few minutes of your time

October 11, 2010

If anything could make an operator feel good about the carwash industry today, this is it. A new study conducted by the city of Federal Way, WA, has confirmed what an earlier study commissioned by Brown Bear Car Wash found in 2007: Residential and charity carwashing events conducted on paved surfaces (and without the use of wastewater containment systems) are bad for the environment — most especially local waterways.

This latest research project, titled the Residential Car Washwater Monitoring Study, was published in July 2009 after Federal Way’s Surface Water Management Division collected samples and measured pollutants from five weekend fundraising carwash events in 2007 and 2008.

With all of this mounting evidence, it’s hard to believe that some operators seem uninterested, if not entirely oblivious. A monthly poll conducted on concluded that less than 43 percent of survey respondents intended to take advantage of this most recent study by using it to educate customers or local media. Even more disappointing: The straw poll attracted a measly 38 participants; our lowest response rate to date.

Why are operators so hesitant to take up the banner and shout the news from the rooftops? When I interviewed Vic Odermat back in the summer of 2007 for a cover story about the Brown Bear study, he told me his only wish was that other operators would take this study and “run with it.” Odermat wouldn’t then (and still won’t) let me praise him properly and acknowledge the amount of money and time he invested in this research, but it’s sad to think that his hard work might be a squandered opportunity for our industry.

But it’s not too late. In fact, it involves only a few minutes of your time. I propose that you put down this magazine and ensure that Odermat’s efforts are not wasted. Open your Internet browser and find the contact information for your local newspaper and TV station. Compose a short e-mail to the editors and producers of the news hinting at the consumer interest in “green” products and services and include links to a few stories from or direct from the news sites themselves. The Federal Way study is a good start, followed immediately by the Brown Bear study published in Stormwater magazine.

For operators in smaller markets, your task is easier than you might imagine. Small news outlets are starving for human relations and green news pieces and rely largely on community tips. (I should know; I interned for two summers at one such newspaper and the majority of my stories were born out of these types of leads.)

After your five minutes are up, pat yourself on the back and kick up your feet. And then mentally send Vic Odermat a high five. He deserves it.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing would like to acknowledge a few mistakes in its August and September issues.

In the 2009 In-Bay Automatic Carwash Operations Benchmark Survey Report, found on page 45 of the August issue, a chart erroneously reports that the average monthly volume of a single in-bay automatic is 29,497. Instead, the chart should refer to the average annual volume of a single in-bay automatic.

Corrected PDF versions of the chart can be obtained by e-mailing Editor Kate Carr at In the Top 50 list found on p. 26 of the September issue, Washman, LLC, is reported to have 8 locations. In fact, the company has 12 operations.

The list is also numbered out of order, although the chains are placed in the correct order of size. The numbers to the left should represent 1-50 sequentially.

An advertisement for Hypro ran on page 30 of the September issue incorrectly stating "unmatched 18 month guarantee." This is no longer available from Hypro. Customers can contact Hypro directly at 800-445-8360 for more information.