Professional Carwashing & Detailing

News from the Industry

October 11, 2010

Autobell expands in Atlanta market
In a move that proves a shaky economy isn’t able to slow growth for the third-largest conveyor carwash chain in America, Autobell Car Wash Inc., headquartered in Charlotte, NC, opened another carwash in the Atlanta metro area.

The company’s Mableton, GA, site is its 53rd location overall. It joins the company’s Suwanee, GA, carwash that opened in July 2008.

“Metro Atlanta is a new and exciting market for us,” said Chuck Howard, Autobell president and CEO. “We are continuing to look for opportunities to conveniently serve more communities in the area.”

The new wash is in a 7,000-square-foot former Dollar General store in the Mableton Crossing shopping center. It features an Aqua Bio closed-loop 100 percent water recycling system, in which enzymes digest and recycle wastewater.

A portion of the building will be used as Autobell’s Georgia management training center; the company’s other training center is in Charlotte.

To date, Autobell’s locations are spread throughout 25 North Carolina, one South Carolina, two Georgia and four Virginia cities and towns. It is the largest privately held and family-operated conveyor carwash chain in America and employs approximately 1,600 people.

Mace sells two TX washes; closes sale on two others
Mace Security, Inc., a manufacturer of personal defense and security products and a one-time major player in the carwash industry, has signed an agreement to sell two Austin, TX, carwashes and has closed on the sale of its final two San Antonio, TX, carwashes.

The two Austin washes sold for $6,000,000. The company did not name the purchaser, but did say the transaction is conditioned upon the buyer being satisfied with a Phase 2 environmental study that will be conducted on the two sites.

The transaction is required to be closed 30 days after the buyer has obtained the satisfactory Phase 2 environmental study. No assurances can be given the transaction will be consummated.

Last year, Mace signed an agreement to sell its two San Antonio locations for $1,000,000. To date, the company has 10 remaining carwashes for sale in Austin, Dallas and Lubbock, TX.

“We are excited that we are continuing to sell our carwashes at favorable prices, especially in the current economic environment,” said Dennis Raefield, Mace’s CEO and president.

At one time, the company owned as many as 58 carwash locations, but announced it was considering selling its properties in 2004 and began signing agreements to sell sites bit by bit in 2006.

PC&D reschedules survey reports
Professional Carwashing & Detailing® has rescheduled the production of its two most popular benchmark survey reports in order to encourage increased participation.

The magazine plans to include the results of the 2009 Self-Serve Carwash Survey and 2009 Conveyor Carwash Survey in the April 2009 issue that is given away at Car Care World Expo.

“This will give operators additional time to look over their 2008 figures and statistics and will also allow us to build more awareness about the surveys,” said Phil Arndt, publisher of Professional Carwashing & Detailing. “Our hope is to create the best possible survey data with participation from as many operators as possible.”

The surveys are distributed annually to over 3,000 carwash operators in each business segment. When completed, they provide carwash operators with useful information to help them operate and improve their businesses; including:

  • Changes in average volume from year to year;
  • Pricing and discount information;
  • Best-selling package components;
  • Average operating costs and annual expenses;
  • Market demographic summaries;
  • Crime and security statistics; and
  • Water usage data.
Credit card usage slows
Some of the nation’s largest banks — including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. — are reporting a sharp decline in credit card usage compared to last year.

KeyBanc analyst Anurag Rana said the credit card usage reports were “far worse than we expected.”

A Nielsen Co. survey said the weak economy in 2008 altered spending habits and reported that “cash will be king,” most notably at convenience stores. It said convenience stores will offer cash discounts, and have already done so when customers buy gasoline with cash.

A recent Kraft/CSP Daily News Poll asked readers: What single item is at the top of your industry-related “wish list” for the incoming Obama administration? Thirty-seven percent of the responders said to have “gaining traction on credit-card fee regulation.”