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When Tommy met Tom

October 11, 2010
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Tom Farris, the new vice president of sales and marketing at Tommy Car Wash Systems, got started in the carwash business when he helped put a 180’ conveyor in at a Quality Car Wash during a part-time gig in Holland, MI. He describes the experience as an “absolute blast.”

After that project was done, Tom Essenburg of Tommy Car Wash Systems sought out Farris for an installation road trip. Farris had so much fun on those carwash projects he knew what he wanted to do for a living. “This was an opportunity where I was encouraged to ‘think outside of the box’ and develop other methods to attain the ultimate goal of a clean, shiny, dry car,” he explained.

Farris recently spoke with Professional Carwashing & Detailing about his new role at Tommy and what he is hoping to achieve.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing: What exactly is your new role at Tommy and what does it involve?

Tom Farris: Without getting too in depth, I will be focused on our product offerings to better compliment the goals of the top expanding chains in the country. I will be personally assisting these developers with duplicating the Tommy building design as fast as possible. I will also be defining our brand and looking at different regions where we can develop a larger presence.

PC&D: What are some of your goals as a new vice president?

Farris: To personally get out and work with the top operators and our existing operators to find solutions to help them gain more market share. That is one of the things that I love about our equipment line, it really sells itself. Incredible curb appeal, open look, stainless steel and remarkable signage to go along with it.

One of the things that I've learned from watching the Essenburg family is that in order to attain what you want in life, first help others get what they want. So I will also be focusing on working alongside of Ryan Essenburg to continue to enhance our Visit/Train program for our Tommy customers and distributors.

PC&D: With all that’s happening with the economy, how is Tommy Car Wash Systems holding up?

Farris: Even with last year's economic downturn we grew over 20 percent. We have been extremely busy this year, and have a lot of inquiries about our “system.” I firmly believe that we will see more groups of people looking at our industry to invest their money into. We're now directing more focus to the top developers and their needs.

PC&D: What advice do you have for carwash owners who have been hurt by the economy?

Farris: There are still a lot of people who are very profitable. Opportunity is everywhere in our industry today! I know there are different carwash markets out there, some have been affected more than others. At the end of the day, the customer's that go through your wash care the most about service and quality. I've seen some operators get too caught up in chasing revenue and when their business started to fall off, they cut chemicals in half and eliminate half of their labor.

If volumes are down and you need to make cuts, make sensible cuts. When I say “sensible cuts” I'm referring to simple things that operators can do on a daily basis. There are a lot of things an operator can do that add up over time.

Look at things like water usage and how old or worn the nozzles are. Check your controller to make sure all your functions are turning on and off at the proper times. Take the time to clean out soap foamers so you are getting your biggest bang for your buck.

Check with your local municipality to see if there are incentives to utilize variable speed drives on your existing motors and calculate if there is a good ROI.

Continue to clean your bay, and keep the lights on. No one wants to bring their vehicle to a place that is dark and dirty. There are a lot of examples like this to make “sensible cuts.” Remember what you have done to establish your business in the market, and don't lose sight of that.

PC&D: Is there anything new happening at Tommy that our readers should know about?

Farris: Lots! In the last year we have revolutionized the 40-year-old image of a carwash. No longer dark, dirty and claustrophobic. All while saving money (for our customer) we've created a new basis of open tunnels with translucent roofing system that provides natural light, green features and a more efficient layout for your operation. All thanks to a new patented product called the “POD.”

PC&D: What is Tommy’s view on being green?

Farris: I guess I can let you in on a little secret. Soon we are launching an entirely green carwash building and equipment. The structure will actually have solar panels that collect energy and through some great government programs, we can capitalize on some incentives that will assist and, in some cases subsidize the cost of the roof. Along with an open air design, this facility can be built for a lot less than your average carwash. There are a lot more things in the pipeline for new product developments to be released in the near future.