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The carwash industry has lost a true pioneer and icon and operators from coast to coast have lost a friend they may have never met. Sonny Fazio was all those things and more. I first met him around 1980. His catalogue business was well on the way to provide operators parts and a variety of products essential for their operations at prices that were easy on the budget. At the outset Sonny made it clear to me that as a former car wash owner and operator his goal was to be able to provide others like he had been the opportunity to purchase supplies they needed to make their operation run more efficiently and profitably. As late as the last ICA Show he attended in 2012, he maintained that mantra to the very end.
I was fortunate to have many conversations over the years with Sonny mostly at regional or national shows. Like he did with most that knew him he always seemed to make time for me which I greatly appreciated. However my fondest memory occurred not at any show but about 10 years ago in the Boston airport. Sonny and I were on the same flight back to Atlanta that had ended up being delayed for almost three hours. Those three hours turned out to be one of the highlights of my memories of him. Those of you that know me know that I am pretty good at keeping up my part of a conversation - maybe too good at times. However this time was an exception. Sonny told me things I had never known about the history of this business. He knew people and had seen things I had only heard about from others. I sat spellbound as he told of some of the early operators he knew and how relatively primitive the business was back in the 40’s compared to the industry as it was at the time this took place. He knew and worked with almost all of the early pioneers of this industry and in my mind became one of the greatest of them all.
Sonny Fazio will be missed by many both within his family and the many people that called him friend. Few people leave this world with the impact he had made in our industry. Personally I will always be grateful to him for sharing his thoughts and memories with me. I will always treasure those times and think fondly of him every time I see that big yellow catalogue that proudly carries his name.
BIO Ron Holub has been involved in the car wash industry for 35 years working as an executive for several national carwash chemical companies, owning a car wash and detail supply company, and serving as a general manager for a national car wash chain. He currently works with Hydro-Spray and does consulting. He can be reached at email@example.com.