In this week’s Market Focus, we cover a grand opening for Autobell Car Wash, an open house, a company growth report and other news.

Autobell® Car Wash opens in Fort Mill

CHARLOTTE, NC — Autobell Car Wash Inc. has opened a full service wash at 964 Cabelas Dr. in Fort Mill, South Carolina, at I-77/Exit 90 by Carowinds amusement park, according to a press release.

Eight-year Autobell veteran Steven Watson is the store manager of the location with 24 full- and part-time employees, the release continued.

The new carwash is the family-owned and -operated Autobell company’s 79th store and its fourth in South Carolina, joining locations in Indian Land, Clover and North Charleston, the release noted.

Like many Autobell locations, the new Fort Mill store utilizes an Aqua Bio 100 percent water reclaim treatment system, in which enzymes break down and consume oil, dirt and other pollutants to produce clean, clear water ready for reuse, the release stated.

All Autobell locations treat 100 percent and recycle up to 100 percent of wash water, while disposing of treated wash water only into approved water treatment facilities, the release noted.

“With its visible placement just off a heavily trafficked interstate corridor, this Autobell Car Wash location offers convenience to commuters in the fast-growing communities of Fort Mill and Rock Hill, as well as to travelers,” stated Autobell COO Carl Howard. “We look forward to offering timely service to complement these customers’ busy lives while providing them an exceptionally clean car.”

The new wash and all locations of Autobell are currently open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Kleen-Rite hosts open house at Grand Prairie distribution center

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Kleen-Rite Corp. welcomed the public to its Grand Prairie distribution center on Feb. 24, 2018, according to a press release.

The February open house event welcomed more than 100 carwash owners for a fun evening of warehouse tours, giveaways and dinner from Riscky’s Barbeque, the release continued.

Kleen-Rite President Mike McKonly and Vice President Keith Lutz were on hand to have dinner with guests and attend the Southwest Car Wash Association Convention & EXPO in nearby Arlington, the release noted.

Over $5,000 in door prizes were distributed thanks to generous sponsorships from leading carwash equipment and supply manufacturers, the release stated.

Many manufacturer representatives also joined the open house group to meet carwash owners before the EXPO, the release added.

Industry professionals will have another chance to visit a Kleen-Rite facility and win more great prizes during the 2018 Kleen-Rite Expo, to be held Nov. 14th in Columbia, Pennsylvania, the release continued.

ISTOBAL grows nine percent in 2017 with turnover of more than €134 million

VALENCIA, Spain — ISTOBAL increased its turnover by nine percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, with more than €134 million at year’s end, according to pre-audited accounts, as stated in a press release.

The Spanish company has managed to sustain the growth of recent years, with an EBITDA figure higher than €18 million, 12 percent more than in 2016, the release continued.

In 2017, Spain and France were the most important markets for ISTOBAL, accounting for 25 percent and 18 percent respectively of the company’s net turnover, the release noted; they were followed by Italy and the U.S., where turnover growth in the group’s subsidiaries was most significant, with increases over 20 percent.

According to the release, the balance sheet for 2017 includes excellent results in Spain and France — where ISTOBAL continues consolidating its leadership — and reflects the company’s growing presence in Italy, thanks to its subsidiary and a strong distributor network covering the country sales-wise and technically, as well as the growth of the U.S. subsidiary focused on commercial vehicles, a segment with a two-fold revenue growth compared to 2016.

In terms of product divisions, ISTOBAL’s wide range of rollovers remains the bestselling, the release added; enclosures, jet washes, chemical products and water treatment saw the highest growth rates in 2017.

ISTOBAL is reinforcing its organizational structure with new professionals and the creation of new departments to better face market challenges, consolidate its international leadership and reach a €144 million turnover in 2018, the release continued.

Over the next few years, the Spanish group will continue to boost innovation in products and processes while increasing equipment reliability and making the most of connectivity and big data, the release added; projects allowing the brand to be better positioned as a synonym for quality, innovation, carwash efficiency and effectiveness will also be fostered.

Its expansion plan will concentrate on increasing its market share in the countries where it is already present, particularly in the U.S., Italy and Germany, the release concluded.

Moo Moo Express Car Wash raises $5,000 for the Central Ohio American Heart Association

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Moo Moo Express Car Wash is proud to announce the donation of $5,000 to the Central Ohio chapter of the American Heart Association, according to a press release.

The donations were collected Feb. 9-11 at all 13 Central Ohio Moo Moo Express Car Wash locations in conjunction with February’s “American Heart Month” campaign, the release continued.

During the campaign, Moo Moo Express collected $5 donations at the wash kiosk, the release noted; in exchange for a monetary donation, customers received a coupon good for a free Whole Plus Car Wash ($13 value) on their next visit.

“Once again, our customers demonstrated their generosity and are helping us make a difference in our local community,” said John Roush, founder and managing partner of Moo Moo Express Car Wash. “So many of us are affected in one way or another by cardiovascular disease. We know this donation will positively impact the American Heart Association and help them further their research and education efforts.”

Mike’s Carwash becomes Official Carwash of the Cincinnati Zoo

CINCINNATI — Mike’s Carwash, the Official Carwash of the Cincinnati Zoo, announced it is kicking off its partnership by offering discounted carwashes to Cincinnati Zoo visitors, according to a press release.

Mike’s will feature a coupon for $4 off the Ultimate Wash on the Cincinnati Zoo ticket backs as well as through the Zoo’s online store, the release continued.

“As we continue to grow in the Cincinnati market, partnering with the zoo seemed like a natural fit,” said Mike Dahm, president of Mike’s Carwash. “And we could not be more excited to be the Official Carwash of the Cincinnati Zoo. We are thrilled to be working with an organization that takes pride and places value in teamwork, fun, accountability and passion — just like we do.”

As one of the oldest nonprofits in the city, the Cincinnati Zoo is nationally recognized as one of the top 10 zoos in the country, the release noted.

In the spring, Mike’s will be hosting a Grand Opening Free Ultimate Wash Weekend for its new Oakley location that will raise money to support the zoo’s initiatives, the release added.

These initiatives include the care and sustainability of 500 animal and 3,000 plant species, ground-breaking conservation efforts and educational outreach programs, which reach more than 330,000 students annually, the release concluded. 

International trade show UNITI expo comes back bigger than ever

STUTTGART, Germany — UNITI expo, the leading European trade fair for the fuel retailing and carwash industries, has announced a 20 percent increase in exhibition space for its 2018 edition, taking place May 15-17 in Stuttgart, Germany, according to a press release.

International exhibitors will present the latest products and innovations across 40,000 square meters of exhibition space at UNITI expo 2018, the release continued.

This year, the trade show will be placing a special focus on alternative fuels, exploring the development of hydrogen technology, e-fuels, natural gas-based formulas and e-mobility by exhibiting the latest concepts and technologies and dedicating one whole conference day to the subject, the release added.

The organizers also announced a high increase in exhibitors and space dedicated to the professional carwash sector, the release noted.

“We´ve grown from 25,000 square meters of exhibition space in 2014, 35,000 square meters in 2016, and in 2018 exhibitors from around the world will showcase their innovations and products across 40,000 square meters in the state-of-the-art Stuttgart Messe,” said Bruno Boroewitsch, CEO of com-a-tec and the co-organizer of UNITI expo.

Across the three different forums, a selection of industry experts will explore the current state of the market, key trends and future challenges, the release added.

The exhibition incorporates all areas of interest for operators of service stations and carwash businesses: fuel technology, fuel logistics, site construction, payment and automation, carwash and car care, and shop and convenience, the release noted.

With its two previous editions, the release stated, UNITI expo has become the most international trade fair in the industry.

“There is a high level of decision makers from all major fuel retailers, oil companies and carwash operators, while several delegations from across the globe are expected,” explained Boroewitsch.

The organizers believe they will easily surpass the figures of UNITI 2016, when the event gathered 425 exhibitors from 36 countries and more than 15,000 attendees from over 110 countries, the release noted.

For many professionals, the event has become the must-attend show of the year due to its innovative character, well-structured program and high quality of exhibitors, the release added.

The exhibition and the conferences can be attended for free, and registration for industry professionals is now open on www.uniti-expo.de, the release concluded.

Third annual Autobell® Car Wash Creek Challenge® emphasizes water science, quality

CHARLOTTE, NC — The third annual Autobell® Car Wash Creek Challenge® recently took place at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with teams from 12 Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary schools putting to the test their weeks of STEM-based curriculum focused on water science and quality, as well as the vitality of the local creek system, according to a press release.

Teams of third, fourth and fifth graders undertook the specially developed curriculum that includes classroom and on-site creek education, the release continued.

Participating elementary schools were Lake Wylie, J.H. Gunn, Steele Creek, Irwin Academic Center, Cotswold IB World, Rama Road, Oakhurst STEAM Academy, Huntersville, Invest Collegiate, Renaissance West STEAM, Devonshire and Lebanon Road, the release added.

The Irwin Academic Center team took first place overall in the competition, with Lake Wylie Elementary placing second, followed by Steele Creek Elementary in third, the release stated.

Participating students displayed and demonstrated model water filters and three-dimensional watersheds they built and were tested on knowledge of subjects such as the water cycle, aquatic plants and animals, and related vocabulary words, the release noted.

A competition highlight is the Water Wizard Quiz Bowl, in which two-student teams from each school verbally answer questions, the release continued; the duo from Lake Wylie Elementary placed first in that event.

Autobell Car Wash owner and CEO Chuck Howard served as a Quiz Bowl quizzer and distributed prizes, handshakes and congratulations to the winners of each event, the release stated.

“Autobell is very cognizant of water quality and conservation, which led us to develop the Creek Challenge, because we know it is essential to educate and engage our youth about this most important resource,” Howard stated. “They are our future and can make a difference.”

In 2015, Autobell proposed creating and funding the Creek Challenge project as a follow-up to KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks, part of a multiyear initiative from the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the UNCC College of Arts + Architecture to draw attention to environmental topics, the release noted.

The Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education at UNC Charlotte and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute developed the curriculum and activities for the Autobell Creek Challenge in conjunction with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the release concluded.

You can view and download a complete list of winners and event descriptions here and event photos here.

Green Lantern Car Washes changing its name

SALINA, Kas. — According to www.salinapost.com, Green Lantern Car Washes, which has seven locations in the Midwest, will change its company name to Charlie’s Car Wash in May to honor Charlie Walker, the company’s founder and a philanthropist who passed away in 2012.

Customers were invited to participate in a survey about the name change, the article continued, and many stated that they liked the idea of changing the name to honor Walker and preferred the new name.

Trace Walker, Charlie’s son and president of the company, stated, “Our family and staff are very happy and excited to be able to honor our dad, grandpa, founder and dear friend in this way. Yet this decision is bittersweet. We are very proud of the Green Lantern name that has grown to be recognized as a leader in quality and customer service in all our markets.”

“The company ownership will not be changing nor will the core services, which our loyal customers have come to depend on,” said Marcia Stephenson, marketing manager. “We will be making some cosmetic changes and I expect those to start taking place this spring.”

The chain will open a new carwash in Warr Acres, Oklahoma, in July under the new name, which will be the company’s eighth location and the first of two planned in the Oklahoma City area, the article noted.

A third Wichita location is scheduled to open by the end of the year, the article concluded.

Amboy resident restores, upgrades local self-serve wash

AMBOY, Ill. — According to www.amboynews.com, lifetime resident of Amboy Bill Gerdes purchased the carwash on Route 52 in September 2017 and has since made some upgrades.

The carwash, now renamed American Auto Wash, is a self-serve with two manual bays and one automatic bay, the article continued.

Gerdes has replaced or upgraded the mechanicals of the process, pressure, water volumes and vacuums, installed new meter boxes to take paper money, and he has replaced the existing chemicals with better ones, the article added.

Furthermore, Gerdes installed LED lighting in all three bays and installed a tankless hot water heater to help with bug removal, the article noted.

Gerdes also plans to have credit card readers installed shortly, and his future plans include adding a dryer to the automatic wash and adding tokens, the article stated.

“I have learned a lot about carwashes over the past few months,” said Gerdes. “Local residents have been appreciative of the changes so far. Our goal is to offer quality products right here in Amboy and keep our business here. It has been a good experience. I go over and check it two or three times daily for proper operation and cleanliness.”