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Carwashes out West have gotten a lot of attention lately, and not necessarily for good reasons. A recent hearing in Los Angeles put the carwashing industry on a proverbial witness stand — questioning whether workers were being mistreated at washes throughout California. Bill Carbonel, president of the Western Carwash Association (WCA), was on hand to speak up for the industry and defend honest operators throughout. He shared his thoughts on that hearing, as well as on the future of the WCA and the economy with Professional Carwashing & Detailing.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: How did you get involved with the WCA?
Bill Carbonel: The WCA gave me the education and networking opportunities I needed to grow my business over the years. Giving back to the Association that helped me build a successful carwash appealed to me and when I was asked to join the Board in 2000, I gratefully accepted.
These past 10 years have benefited me both professionally and personally as I have become more active in our Association. I would encourage anyone to take an active role in participating in the WCA — by attending a carwash tour, a member meeting, visiting our website, and of course, by attending the Convention & Tradeshow in October.
PC&D: How are plans for the 2010 Trade Show shaping up?
BC: We are enthusiastic about returning to the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino for our 2010 Annual Convention & Tradeshow. The 2009 convention was very successful and well received by operators and vendors alike. We’re building on that success and continuing our commitment to providing quality, relevant education for our members at a vibrant and exciting venue.
PC&D: How are carwashes out West doing right now?
BC: The challenges we’re facing are shared by the nation. Owners who want to succeed are reexamining their business models, looking for new revenue streams, and investing in competitive improvements. That’s why the WCA has committed to providing more member events this year.
Ours is a hands-on industry and the feedback we consistently have from operators is that they learn the most by spending quality time with their peers. Our Inaugural Car Wash Tour in Phoenix, AZ, was a huge success. One-hundred percent of our survey respondents found the tour valuable and said they would attend again.
We’ve also partnered with the DLSE (Division of Labor Standards Enforcement) to provide educational sessions and will be bringing another carwash tour to the Western states this summer.
PC&D: What are your thoughts about the National Workers’ Rights Board hearing that was held in L.A.?
BC: The WCA is very proud of our long history of cooperation with the Department of Industrial Relations and the Labor Commissioner. Business owners who do not observe the law have an unfair advantage over ethical employers and need to become compliant.
Instead of adding to already adequate legislation, both employers and employees benefit from focusing our energy on enforcing the existing statutes. I stressed to the NWR Board that a few rouge operators are not representative of carwash association members and discouraged them from painting a large brushstroke of criticism over our entire industry.
PC&D: What does the future hold for the WCA?
BC: In a word, growth. WCA membership increased 15 percent last year, proving that carwash professionals are looking for resources to help them succeed — resources the WCA provides. Our WCIA insurance program is the best in the industry, our education and events are tailored to our members, and our ongoing commitment to providing value can be seen in the new benefits we’ve rolled out.
I look forward to seeing our industry profit from active participation by both our suppliers and our owners — participation the WCA is actively engaged in promoting both in member events and at the 2010 Annual Convention & Tradeshow.