Since 1991, Professional Carwashing & Detailing has asked its readers annually to submit nominations for the title of Most Valuable Carwasher (MVC), and every year we receive a number of highly qualified nominees. But, what makes one nominee stand out as an MVC? While there’s no concrete answer, what the editors of PC&D can say is that a combination of dedication, positive attitude and an impactful presence at the carwash are just some of the qualities that we look for.
This year’s MVC has all of these qualities in abundance. The PC&D team is pleased to present the 2017 MVC award to Noel Saldaña, an area director for The Wash Tub.
Not just a temp job
Saldaña celebrated his 20th anniversary at The Wash Tub this year on April 1st. But, when he first began working at the carwash back in 1997, he had no idea that what he thought was going to be a temporary job would turn into a lifelong career.
Saldaña was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. His father was a military man, and it was from him that Saldaña feels he learned about such qualities as structure and discipline. Saldaña graduated from John Jay High School in 1994, and he subsequently went on to Texas A&I University in Kingsville; however, he eventually decided to drop out to support his only daughter at the time.
As such, Saldaña ended up working in a body shop. After the body techs and painter would finish with the vehicle, Saldaña would prepare it for delivery to the customer by wet sanding or buffing out imperfections in the paint over the entire automobile.
Having promised the man training him to work at the body shop for two years, he stayed there for the duration. Afterwards, though, he felt that he could find a better-paying opportunity elsewhere — and quickly — so he decided to move on. However, it was more difficult to find a job at that time than he had expected, so he began looking for temporary positions to at least keep himself going. It was then that he began working at The Wash Tub with the full expectation that it too would be a temporary job.
Little did he know that when he began working at The Wash Tub as a detailer, he would steadily work his way up the ladder, moving on to become a detail manager, assistant manager, manager, manager/trainer and store director until he finally became the area director for four of The Wash Tub’s top full service locations in San Antonio and Kerrville, Texas.
Becoming an area director was one of Saldaña’s goals, so it stands to reason that the day he became an area director is, in fact, one of his favorite memories of working at The Wash Tub. “It was a position that I worked hard for and really wanted,” he explains. “It was an honor for me to sit at the area director’s table.”
And, that loyalty to the company has not gone unnoticed. “Noel has made a dream a reality,” Saldaña’s nominator, Matt J. Vizza, president of Vizza Wash Inc., dba The Wash Tub Car Care Centers, says. “It has truly been a joy to see him grow with the company.”
All about attitude
So, how did Saldaña transition from seeing his work at The Wash Tub as a temp job to staying there for 20 years? In retrospect, he says, “I had no idea that I would move up in the company so quickly. Ultimately, what made me stay were the friendly and understanding manners from the managers above me.”
Saldaña certainly followed in the footsteps of those friendly and understanding managers over the years. No matter who he’s around, Saldaña radiates friendship and warmth. “Customers remember Noel for his warm presence,” Vizza’s nomination notes. “Whether it’s through his friendly handshake, beaming smile or big bear hug, Noel Saldaña will always make you feel special.”
“Over the last 20 years, Noel has shown an exceptional work ethic, he has displayed unwavering faithfulness to the company and most importantly, Noel has cultivated strong interpersonal relationships with staff and customers alike,” states Vizza.
In fact, Saldaña’s favorite part about his job is the company’s culture and setting the tone for The Wash Tub’s locations. “I know that I can go into a store and completely change the mood,” Saldaña says. “I’ve gone to [a] location where everyone’s demeanor is down, and I love to try to change that up and make people happy.”
But Saldaña’s job isn’t just about keeping customers’ moods afloat; he must also better the staff (and by extension, the customer experience) by training managers and sales personnel as well. He coaches managers, showing them how to run the business, and he teaches sales staff how best to recommend The Wash Tub’s services and memberships.
Saldaña not only projects a great attitude onto guests and employees, but also onto work in general. For him, every day on the job is different, and there are frequently new challenges for him to overcome — and he loves it.
How Saldaña deals with challenges is just another indicator of how optimistic and upbeat a person he is. According to Saldaña, whenever there’s a problem, he simply smiles and listens to the challenge, always trying to look on the positive side. “Sometimes, you have to step back and know that it’s a story that’s about to happen, and [it’s for someone] else to tell. How are you going to handle it?”
Saldaña himself understands that his passion, connection to others, commitment and integrity were the vital factors behind his nomination. This congenial persona is actually Saldaña’s self-acclaimed secret to success. His advice to everyone is, “Always have a great attitude and a smile. Everyone wants to be next to someone with a great attitude.”
Vizza adds, “At the end of the day, you are the one who will determine what kind of day you have. Noel knows that good things happen when you have the right attitude, and that is why he has been so successful at what he does.”
A passion for people
“From the beginning of his employment, Noel has shown a strong sense of leadership, a tremendous work ethic as well as a passion for people,” Vizza’s recommendation states.
This passion for people is universal. From customers to colleagues, Saldaña enjoys engaging with everyone. For Saldaña, the customer experience is not only about the employee uniforms, the store’s environment, the quality of service or even such amenities as offering complimentary coffee. What’s important to him is getting to know the guests — engaging them by shaking hands and thanking them for their business. He finds it critical to keep this sort of relationship with customers, especially as The Wash Tub continues to grow.
But, Saldaña doesn’t just enjoy engaging with others — he enjoys being engaged as well. “One of my favorite memories,” he says, “was when the owner’s father, Al Vizza, would take time out of his day in our maintenance department to sit down and talk to me about life. He always had great advice, especially about parenting.”
In fact, family is extremely important to Saldaña. He has four children — three daughters and a son — with whom he loves to spend any time he can. Saldaña himself likes participating in sports and outdoor activities, and he simply wants to enjoy as much of life as possible with his children. But, his children are not his only family; Saldaña, in fact, regards The Wash Tub as part of it too.
“To me, family is everything. The company has always been family-oriented, and our passion shows how much we care. We strive [to get] to know our internal and external customers, meaning both our guests and employees,” he says. “I love our company.”
This sentiment is something that Saldaña doesn’t hide, and it certainly makes it easy to understand why he connects so well with others. “He demonstrates precisely what The Wash Tub culture is about: loyalty,” Vizza notes. “He cares immensely about each individual and knows everything about not only our customers but our employees too.”
This care for others is actually critical to his work performance, and it is what makes him stand out as such a top employee of The Wash Tub. “He has a knack for identifying employees with potential and a natural ability to get the best out of people,” Vizza remarks.
Vizza recalls that The Wash Tub once had a senior advisor who was not performing well no matter where the company placed him. However, when they finally put him in one of Saldaña’s stores and under his care, the company began to see a magnificent change in the employee. “Noel truly wants his employees to succeed and will do anything in his power to get them on the right path,” Vizza adds.
In fact, now that his dream of becoming an area director has been achieved, that sentiment is the very goal Saldaña strives for: continuing to better himself so that he can better help management staff get where they need to be.
Vizza only sees Saldaña’s opportunities, such as acquiring another location under his supervision, growing even further. “As long as he continues down the path he is on and surrounds himself with good people, he will expand his opportunities,” Vizza concludes.
Past MVC award winners
|2016: Jose Luis Cruz, Splash Car Wash, Greenwich, CT|
|2015: Mike Hulburt, Autobell Car Wash, Virginia Beach, VA|
|2014: Mark Fox, Cornhusker Auto Wash, Bellevue, NE|
|2013: Elias “Lou” Spellos, Squeeky Clean Mobile Car Wash and Detailing, Virginia Beach, VA|
|2012: José “Joe” Fernandez, Superior Shine in Covina, CA|
|2011: Chad Cornell, Crystal Clean Automotive Detailing, Grand Rapids, MI|
|2010: Sandra Silvestre, Valencia AutoSpa, Valencia, CA|
|2009: Trudy Carlton, Car Pool LLC, Mechanicsville, VA|
|2008: Shawn Stevens, Adirondack Car Wash, Queensbury, NY|
|2007: Aaron Rusbuldt, Shur-Kleen Car Wash, Lacey, WA|
|2006: Juan Avila, Splash Car Wash, Wilton, CT|
|2005: Brian Daigle, Willimantic Car Wash, Willimantic, CT|
|2004: Bob Handt, Mister Car Wash, Roseville, MN|
|2003: Gary Pendleton, Wilshire West Car Wash, Santa Monica, CA|
|2002: Casey Bowmaster, Champion Car Wash, Trevose, PA|
|2001: Roman Zelek, Koziol Car Wash, Chicago|
|2000: Darold Evans, Sandwich Car Wash, Sandwich, MA|
|1999: Marcel Vargas, Splash Car Wash, Norwalk, CT|
|1998: Clifford Mitchell, Bebo’s Car Wash, Mobile, AL|
|1997: Chalmers “Lefty” Jackson, Jax Kar Wash Inc., Southfield, MI|
|1996: Michael Garrison, Beaverton Car Wash, Beaverton, OR; and Marjorie E. McNeil, Clarkston Auto Wash Co., Clarkson, MI|
|1995: Jose Ruiz, Auto Valet Car Wash, Trenton, NJ|
|1994: G. Walker “Paul” Calisme, Exit 13 Car Wash, Darien, CT|
|1993: Mark Ellis, Soft Touch Express Wash, Valparaiso, IN|
|1992: Gary L. Daily, Happy Wheels Inc., Wilmington, DE|
|1991: Norris Brown, Weiss Guys Car Wash, Phoenix, AZ|