Exactly 35 years ago this month, I was unemployed. I had just relocated back to South Florida after a stint working in a glue and caulking factory in the Midwest. I realized early in my glue and caulking career that I wasn’t cut out for assembly line work.
Eventually, I found a job behind the bar (again) and soon realized working nights was something I no longer wanted to do. I also realized day shifts weren’t very lucrative, so I sought employment elsewhere.
In the newspaper want ads, I saw a job posting for an assistant manager at a car wash. The 1976 hit movie “Car Wash” immediately came to mind. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. It’s very funny and paints a less-than-desirable work environment. Workers in dirty coveralls with cigarettes dangling from their mouths while washing cars in a tunnel that can only be politely described as less than clean.
I skimmed over the ad and decided to continue slinging drinks. Four weeks later, a particularly rough shift behind the bar had me looking for alternate work, again.
As I perused the newspaper want ads, the carwash ad was still there. I decided to call the number, and as they say, the rest is history.
Back then, I never dreamed of making carwashing a career. In fact, if you would have told me in 1985 that I would still be in the industry in 2020, I would have told you you were crazy. I entered the business with the thought that I would do this until I found a real job.
Who wants to work at a carwash? Turn on any sitcom still to this day and ‘you’ll end up working at the carwash’ is the punchline used when someone is going down life’s wrong path. What people don’t realize is the size and scope of the industry.
I’m often asked when traveling what I do for a living. When I inform the inquisitor that I’m an instructor in CarWash College, I get looks that range from puzzlement to pity.
Too bad…for them!
If you’re new or newer to the industry and entered the industry thinking this was something to do until you find a “real job,” I can tell you that you’ve found a real job. Our industry offers several opportunities and career paths with growth possibilities. Positions ranging from site and area managers, service and installation, chemical and equipment sales, etc.
As the industry continues to grow, top talent will be rewarded as companies vie for their service and experience.
Not only can you make a living in the carwash industry, but you can make an exceptional living if you apply yourself! When industry trade shows take place again, I urge you to attend. Network with peers. Do some research on industry growth and trends. You may be surprised at what you find.
According to statistics, 450 new tunnels were built last year with another 450 to be built again this year. And there doesn’t appear to be an industry slowdown in sight. Many existing operators are seeking to find more property, and new operators are entering the fray at a record clip.
With industry growth comes additional jobs, in demand. Managers, service techs, chemists, installers, etc. The possibilities are endless!
I have to admit, I am a little envious of people starting in the industry today. You have your whole careers ahead of you, and mine is in its twilight years. I wish I were younger to take advantage of all the opportunity available. I urge you to stay in the industry and make the most of it.
I’m glad I found my “real job” 35 years ago. Hopefully, one day, if you stay in the carwash industry, you’ll say the same.
All the best!
Bob Fox has 35 years’ experience in the carwash industry and is the vice president of Sonny’s Car Wash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.
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