In this week’s Market Focus, we cover an acquisition, a new hire, a new carwash location and a team restructuring.

DRB Systems and Unitec unite

AKRON, Ohio — DRB Systems announced it has officially joined forces with Unitec, based in Elkridge, Maryland, thus combining two major technology and production companies in the fast-growing automated carwash industry, according to a company press release.

DRB Systems President and CEO Bill Morgenstern said he and Unitec President Pam Piro have agreed to bring their two companies together formally after many years of collaboration, which has enabled both companies to benefit from market experience, customer insight, technological innovation and passion about commitment to customers’ success, the release continued.

Morgenstern and Piro said the DRB and Unitec operations will retain their identities, employees and locations, the release stated, but will now go to market as the largest provider of technology, point-of-sale and payment systems nationwide.

“Officially, DRB Systems has acquired Unitec, but the deal is just the tip of the iceberg,” Morgenstern said. “Together, DRB and Unitec will deliver the power and energy to continue leading our industry, but now with the combined strength of these two premier providers working in concert with each other to serve our customers’ needs. For example, Unitec has done a particularly great job in developing relationships with distributors, and the opportunity to leverage the large national distribution network is especially exciting.”

The acquisition brings together nearly 300 employees serving a combined install base of more than 14,000 carwashes, the release stated.

“Individually, we have been strong for decades,” Piro said. “DRB has a sterling reputation on the technological end of our business, and Unitec is a world-class production house that has provided advanced hardware and software for more than three decades.”

Going forward, the new organization is positioned to serve literally every carwash segment in the United States with superior technical and production capabilities, the release added, which in turn enables the companies to expand their leadership in new product innovation and support infrastructure.

“Now that we are in the same organization, we can work in sync to dramatically enhance our customers’ experiences and profitability with our products, services and innovation,” Morgenstern said. 

For more information, see www.drbsystems.com and www.startwithunitec.com.

CSI hires new regional sales manager

DE PERE, Wis. — Cleaning Systems, Inc. (CSI) proudly announces the hiring of Justin Ruelas to the position of Lustra® Regional Sales Manager covering southwest regions of the United States, according to a company press release.

Mr. Ruelas grew up in the carwash industry and had experience in various roles, the release stated.

In 2006, he became the Operations Manager at Cobblestone Auto Spa, the release continued, and then Ruelas took some time to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree while looking for the right opportunity to re-enter the industry he is so passionate about.

Dave Krause, president and CEO of CSI stated, “We are pleased to welcome Justin to the CSI team. His experience and deep commitment will make him an excellent addition to the western region.”

Mr. Ruelas was quoted as saying, “Growing up in the carwash industry, CSI was known as an industry leader in quality products and its technological innovation. I look forward to joining the great mission and values of the Lustra Division and servicing the southwestern region.”

Rich’s Car Wash set to build 12th location

DAPHNE, Ala. — Rich’s Car Wash, the largest carwash operator on the Gulf Coast, is developing its twelfth location in Daphne, Alabama, and is planning to open at least three additional locations across the southeast in 2017, according to a company press release.

In 1976, Tim and Rayford Richardson opened the first Rich’s location in Saraland, Alabama, the release continued, and since then, the locally-owned and operated business has grown to ten locations spanning across four states.

The debut of Rich’s Car Wash in Daphne, Alabama, will include a 150-foot conveyorized wash tunnel, over 30 free vacuum bays, and a separate 75-foot polishing tunnel featuring the Perfect Polish system, a 3-minute express wax applied by hand and buffed to perfection in the polishing tunnel, the release stated.

Rich’s is the first and only carwash in the country to build and operate this ground breaking technology, which was developed in conjunction with Sonny’s Enterprise, the release noted.

The new location will also be environmentally friendly, the release added, with energy-efficient lighting and control systems, as well as a water conservation and recycling system.

“We’ve listened to our customers, and have been looking forward to expanding to Daphne for quite some time. We have many customers who live in Baldwin County but make the work commute to Mobile, so we’re excited to bring the Rich’s experience home to their neighborhood,” said Tim Richardson, owner of Rich’s Car Wash.

Rich’s Car Wash in Daphne is expected to open early 2017, the release stated.  

Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry creates the ultimate customer-focused team

JOSEPH, Mich. — The newly restructured Whirlpool Corporation Commercial Laundry all-star team is serving up innovative solutions and services that aim to exceed the industry’s varied needs and deliver unrivaled knowledge and expertise, according to a company press release.

The Commercial Laundry team’s leader and general manager, Trey Northrup, said, “Enhancing our team’s talent is one of the many steps we are taking to deliver on our long-term vision, which includes continuous improvement projects that drive our renewed commitment to operational excellence and standout customer experience. Steve Hietpas, Randy Karn, Nick Koukourakis and Rebecca Ross not only bring fresh out-of-the-box ideas to their new roles, they help us examine our efforts and the industry in a refreshing new light.”

Meet the Team

The World Traveler: Steve Hietpas

An intercontinental expert and savvy leader, Steve Hietpas is the team’s new international sales manager, the release stated, and having worked nearly 20 years in the commercial laundry industry, Hietpas has spent nearly two thirds of his career in the field working closely with key distributor contacts to intimately understand what it takes to win on a daily basis.

This experience, along with his mantra of always working with a “team approach,” makes him an ideal fit for this role and the perfect team member to unearth untapped opportunities abroad, the release added.

Hietpas will have full profit and loss ownership and will own the long-range strategic plan for international business, the release noted.

The Service Tactician: Randy Karn

Born to help deliver the corporation’s 360-degree customer experience, Randy Karn has transitioned to Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry global service manager, where he will coordinate internal and external initiatives and programs to support the company’s long-range plan, according to the release.

His Iowa State education, 35 years in the industry and positive attitude will serve him well in his new role, the release added, and Karn’s “voice of customer” work will provide a strong foundation while his strategic leadership will help guide the product development process.

The Multi-Load Guru: Nick Koukourakis

Building on his mechanical engineering degree, extensive technical background and more than 15 years of marketing and sales experience, Nick Koukourakis is the ideal person for the multi-load product management job, the release stated.

With a deep-rooted passion for everything he does, the release continued, Koukourakis will help bridge market gaps and engineer multi-load products that continue to exceed customer expectations, efficiency standards and industry needs.

He has helped his customers find a life-long home in the commercial laundry market and will continue to help drive innovations to improve the multi-load laundry experience, the release noted.

The Brand Ambassador Enthusiast: Rebecca Ross

Strategic and resourceful with a desire to drive brand loyalty has landed Rebecca Ross in her latest role at Whirlpool Corporation: commercial laundry brand manager, according to the release.

Driven by working closely with trade team members, Ross thrives in cross functional team settings, the release added, and since joining the corporation in 2002, she has held various roles with increasing responsibility in brand marketing, co-marketing and channel marketing.

Supplementary to team enhancements, the release noted, recent investments in product, research and development, testing and training will drive a robust, holistic 360-degree customer experience that will ultimately help in making Whirlpool Corporation Commercial Laundry the preferred industry partner.