News from the Industry
Mr. Clean to get bigger in Texas
Mr. Clean Car Wash intends to have its first Texas franchise in Round Rock, just outside Austin, open by spring 2010 and plenty others are on the way, according to the company.
The national franchiser is aiming for rapid expansion in Texas, planning more than 20 Mr. Clean washes throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. The company has said it hopes to become the country’s first national carwash franchise network.
Currently the company, which is operated by Agile Pursuits Franchising, Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Procter & Gamble Company, has 16 locations in Georgia and Ohio. Earlier this year the chain announced it had seven more sites under development and is able to accept franchise applications in 46 states.
Mr. Clean recently sent a site selection team to Texas to consider nearly 50 potential locations. The franchiser is actively pursuing five of those sites that “meet the demographics necessary for a successful carwash.”
California extends Car Wash Worker law
California’s Assembly Bill 236, an act to amend sections 2051 and 2067 of the state’s labor code as it relates to carwashes, was passed by the Assembly on Sept. 9 and by the Senate on Sept. 3. It had not been signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when this issue went to print.
Originally AB 236 would have made the law, commonly referred to as the Car Wash Worker Law, permanent after it was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2010. However, the bill that passed only extends the existing law until Jan. 1, 2014.
The law regulates the employment practices of carwashes. Under new terms of the act, a new motor vehicle dealer or an automotive repair dealer, as those terms are defined, is not an employer for purposes of these regulatory provisions.
Under the law, carwashes are required to register with the state and to document their payroll, and workers may file wage and/or retaliation claims with the Labor Commissioner when their employers violate employment laws. The law was extended in 2007 when SB 1468 was passed.
Operators in California are urged to register their washes now, if they have not already done so, and can refer to the Western Carwash Association’s website (www.wcwa.org) for helpful information.
Grace for Vets grows in its 5th year
In its fifth year of honoring veterans with free services, the Grace for Vets program started at Cloister Car Wash hopes to add even more carwash companies to its list of participating locations.
Hundreds of carwashes have participated in the program since it began in 2004. Organizers are asking other locations to join them in offering free carwashes and other services for veterans on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.
“Participating in Grace for Vets has proven to increase support for veterans throughout the business community as well as create enthusiasm and patriotism at participating washes,” according to organizers.
Interested operators can register their sites at the program’s website, www.graceforvets.org, and will be provided with free promotional materials.
CEO of ProntoWash USA resigns
Stuart Williams, CEO and president of ProntoWash USA, has resigned his position effective October 8.
Alan Packer, currently chief operating officer of the waterless carwash franchising company, will move to company headquarters in Miami to run the company on an interim basis until a new CEO is selected.
Packer stated, “Stuart has been with us for more than three years adding value and working hard to make our network grow and consolidate. In this period he has become more than a fellow worker, I really consider him a friend. Although we will miss him dearly, we are happy for him in that he has received an offer that is simply too good for him to turn down. We therefore wish him the best and wholeheartedly support him in this new enterprise.”
In his own message to the company and media, Williams explained he resigned “for several personal circumstances and has elected to accept another position in the retail sector and franchising not directly related to the carwash industry.”
Dallas police cracking down on crime at carwashes
Dallas police are focusing their efforts on self-serve carwashes in the Oak Cliff and Fair Park sections of the city, which they say are a hot bed of criminal activity.
“Operation Car Wash” has the support of local carwash owners who have signed affidavits granting police the right to write trespass citations to troublemakers on their property.
The city’s officers are prepared to use different investigative techniques after several other attempts to crack down on carwashes were not entirely successful. There isn’t a scheduled date to complete the crackdown.
NC starts voluntary certification for carwashes
Governor Sonny Perdue of North Carolina has signed a bill recognizing a voluntary certification program for carwashes which conserve water.
House Bill 1236 recognizes voluntary carwash water conservation certification programs to encourage and promote the use of year round water conservation and water use efficiency measures.
The bill also states that a local government that provides public water service or a large community water system shall recognize and credit commercial carwashes that have met the standards of the certification program.
Carwashes certified under the program shall not be required to reduce consumption more than any other class of commercial or industrial water users during a water shortage emergency.
“We were very excited with the bi-partisan support this initiative received from all levels of our state government,” Dale Reynolds, president of the North Carolina Professional Car Wash Association said in the announcement. More information can be found on the Association’s website, www.ncpcwa.com.
Mike’s Car Wash is a 2009 Top Small Workplace
Family-owned and operated Mike’s Car Wash, Inc. has been named a 2009 Top Small Workplace by the Wall Street Journal and Winning Workplaces, an organization that helps small and mid-size firms improve their workplaces.
The award, which was handed out to only 15 companies, recognizes exceptional businesses that foster teamwork, high productivity and innovation while helping their employees grow professionally and personally.
Hundreds of interviews with Mike’s employees, customers, business partners and service providers were conducted before the company was selected for the honor.
“We are honored to receive this award,” said Billy Schaming, chief operating officer of Mike’s. “This award belongs to our employees. They make our company special. We survey our employees and every year the number one answer to the question ‘What do you like best about your job?’ is ‘the people I work with.”
Mike’s Car Wash, Inc. was founded in Fort Wayne, IN, in 1948. Today the company is among the five largest conveyor carwash chains in America with 37 sites in Indiana and Ohio.
Mace pays $600K in immigration case
Mace, a company that at one time owned as many as 58 carwashes and now has 12 remaining sites for sale, has paid the government a $600,000 fine for a case involving four of its Philadelphia carwashes and a plot to employ undocumented Mexican workers.
Nicholas Sama, an operator for one of the locations, was sentenced to five years of probation, with nine months of home confinement, and must pay a $10,000 fine for his involvement with the plot to hire the illegal immigrants.
Previously, PC&D reported Richard Kramer, former COO of Car Care, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mace Security International, pleaded guilty to knowingly employing at least 50 illegal aliens in a case that began with an investigation in 2006. An earlier story reported that Car Care Inc. and five of its managers were charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, to harbor undocumented workers and to commit identity theft in May 2008 after a 2006 investigation.
Kramer has been sentenced, but his sentencing has not yet been revealed to the public.
A statement from Mace, released on Aug. 12, stated that the company stood by Kramer saying he was an important employee who failed “to discover the conspiracy orchestrated by the regional manager, and managers of the four carwashes.”
The illegal worker case came about after a former employee tipped off the information and then federal immigration and labor investigators raided Mace the carwashes in Bryn Mawr, Norristown, Flourtown, and Cherry Hill, PA, in 2006. The raid revealed that carwash managers assigned Social Security numbers of former employees to the Mexican workers. The Mexican workers would then cash their checks in other peoples’names through an informal “arrangement” with the company’s bank branches.