Professional Carwashing & Detailing


October 11, 2010
Recently, the industry has been buzzing about Jim Coleman Company’s new vending offering, Mr. Zippy’s.

This month, Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine picks the brain of Russell Coleman, president of Jim Coleman Company, to find out more about this new product.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine: What exactly is Mr. Zippy’s?

Russell Coleman: Mr. Zippy’s is a coin and bill operated vending device that can deliver both purified water and ice to the consumer. Mr. Zippy’s Express provides the customer with several options to purchase 1-, 3- or 5-gallon(s) of purified water. Ice can be purchased in 10- or 20-lbs. bags of ice.

PC&D: Can you detail the available features and price points?
RC: Mr. Zippy’s comes standard with one 2,400-pound ice maker to produce ice with a 2,000-pound storage tank. It can be ordered with an additional 2,400-pound ice maker to increase production to 4,800-pound of ice per day. The standard machine can deliver about 240 ten-pound bags of ice per day and if you upgrade to the additional ice maker you can deliver over 400 ten-pound bags of ice per day.

Mr. Zippy’s also comes with a 2,000-gallon per day reverse osmosis unit to produce purified water for both the water delivery system and ice production side.

PC&D: How was Mr. Zippy’s developed? When was it first produced?
RC: Mr. Zippy’s was developed by the engineering team at Jim Coleman Company based upon customer demand by carwash operators looking for additional sources of income.

Since Jim Coleman Company has been in the carwash business for 40 years, vending out water for washing cars. It was a logical decision to produce a machine to vend out both purified water and ice to the customers.

The carwash operators are used to operating a coin operated vending machine and Mr. Zippy’s expands the available products that the carwash operator can sell..

PC&D: How important is the location of the machine on the property?
RC: Good question. As with all real estate, the location is extremely important to the success of a machine. The best locations should have good visibility from the street and have high traffic in front of the location.

The best customers for ice and water during the week are construction workers, lawn maintenance personnel, or anyone that works outdoors. On weekends, the best customers are people that are camping, boating or having parties.

PC&D: What considerations should a potential customer be aware of?
RC: Mr. Zippy’s Express Ice and Water House requires a health permit because it is dispensing a consumable product. Individual states and cities have different requirements regarding the testing and dispensing of ice and water. You will need to contact the authorities in your state for exact regulations.

Here in Texas (where Jim Coleman Company is located), laws require a water sample be taken from the vending machine every 90 days for testing. The results of the test must be submitted to the state of Texas and a copy kept on file for two years.

You will also need to notify your insurance company that you will be vending bottled water and ice.

PC&D: What water requirements are necessary for installation?
RC: Mr. Zippy’s requires connection to a city or state approved water source. You cannot connect it to local well water.

PC&D: Describe the installation process.
RC: Mr. Zippy’s Express Ice and Water House is delivered by truck and trailer. The local distributor will unload the machine with either a crane or a forklift. Once the unit is set on a foundation, it will need to be fastened down using anchor bolts. The local distributor will then install the mansard facial on the roof of the building.

Next, the distributor will install the condensers on the roof for the ice makers. Installation will also require a local electrician and plumber. The plumber will need to provide a 3/4 ” water line and a sewer line. Most local municipalities will allow the drain on Mr. Zippy’s to be connected to a storm sewer line. The electrician will provide a 100-amp electrical service to the building. Once power, water and drain are connected, the local distributor will then start up the unit and operation can commence. The whole installation process should take about five working days to complete.

PC&D: The machine can be sprayed down for cleaning, but is it safe to use the spray gun at a self-serve carwash?
RC: The outside of the Mr. Zippy building and the parking lot around the building can be cleaned with the high pressure from the self-serve carwash. The inside of the building will need to be cleaned and sanitized with water that is mixed with chlorine bleach. The owner’s manual of Mr. Zippy’s gives detailed instructions on the cleaning and testing procedure for the machine.

PC&D: What are the operating costs and potential profits for Mr. Zippy’s?
RC: Purified water costs about 3 cents per gallon to produce and can be sold for 25-cents. Purified ice costs about 25-cents for a ten-pound bag of ice (including cost of bag) and can be sold for $1.00-1.25. Purified ice costs about 1 cent per pound therefore, 20 pounds of bulk ice costs 20 cents, which can be sold for $1.75 - $2, yielding a high degree of profitability.

Why is ice so expensive at the convenience store? Because it is produced at a central plant, hand loaded and delivered to the local store. The high cost of gas will continue to raise the price of ice at the convenience store. Mr. Zippy’s Express Ice and Water House have eliminated labor and fuel transportation costs.

PC&D: Can carwash owners and operators connect Mr. Zippy’s to their existing RO units?
RC: Mr. Zippy’s cannot be connected to the existing RO unit at the carwash because the RO unit included in Mr. Zippy’s is manufactured with food grade plumbing fittings and hose. Mr. Zippy’s includes an eight stage purifying process to make sure that the water meets the state and federal health code requirements.

Mr. Zippy’s has been tested by NAMA, National Automatic Merchandising Association, to make sure it is in compliance with “Standard for the Sanitary Design and construction of Food and Beverage Vending machines.” This is a rigorous standard that not all ice vending machines can meet.