In this edition of Market Focus, we cover Stone Soap’s anniversary, a hallmark event, a competition, a new partnership, a new hire, a charity event and two new openings.

Stone Soap celebrates 85 years

SYLVAN LAKE, Mich. — Stone Soap Co. Inc. is pleased to celebrate its 85th year of innovation, according to a press release.

Since 1932, Stone Soap Co. Inc. has been on the forefront of vehicle washing technology, the release stated.

From the industry’s first pressure wash and spray wax to its new world-class body protectants, Stone Soap Co. has led the industry to improve customer satisfaction and profitability, the release continued.

The introduction of the company’s new website keeps Stone Soap Co. Inc. on the edge of innovation, the release noted; this new website offers an easy-to-use interface and provides users a friendly shopping feature: the first site that allows customers to purchase directly from the manufacturer.

Stone Soap Co. Inc. invites you to visit www.stonesoap.com/buydirect for the quick and easy way to save on your carwash chemical purchases, the release concluded.

IQ® in-bay automatic carwash still going strong after 100,000 washes

ST. LOUIS — After only a little over three years in operation, an IQ® Soft Touch in-bay automatic (IBA) carwash by D&S Car Wash Equipment Company has already passed the 100,000 wash mark in Ponca City, Oklahoma — an average of over 70 carwashes per day with little or no downtime issues, according to a press release.

Scott Shepherd, owner of the IQ carwash in Ponca City was an early adopter of the revolutionary IQ technology, giving him a competitive edge in today’s carwash marketplace, the release continued.

Shepherd chose the IQ IBA system because of its industry-leading technology and eco-friendly design, the release noted.

Since acquiring his first IQ Soft Touch, Shepherd now owns and operates a total of three IQ IBAs in two separate IQ carwash locations in Oklahoma, the release added; his earliest touch-free IBA has logged almost 80,000 washes as well.

“We build every IQ carwash to provide maximum performance and unequaled durability,” says Jon Jansky, D&S president and CEO. “We build them to last.”

The IQ was the first IBA system to use state-of-the-art vehicle profiling technology with 3-D scanning to create a “map” of every vehicle being washed to consistently provide effective, efficient and safe washes, the release concluded.

Second Autobell Creek Challenge emphasizes water science, quality

CHARLOTTE — The second Autobell® Creek ChallengeSM recently took place at the UNC Charlotte Cone University Center, with teams from several 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.

Fourth- and fifth-graders comprised teams from Steele Creek, Elizabeth Traditional, Lake Wylie, Endhaven, Irwin Academic Center, Huntersville, Lebanon Road and Parkside Elementaries and undertook the specially developed curriculum that includes classroom and on-site creek education, the release continued.

The Steele Creek team took first place overall in the competition, the release noted, with Irwin Academic Center placing second, followed by Lake Wylie in third (view complete list of winners here and event photos here).

Participating students displayed and demonstrated model dams and aquifers 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, the release added, in which two-student teams from each school verbally answer questions posed by the judges; the duo from Lake Wylie Elementary placed first in that event.

Autobell Car Wash CEO Chuck Howard served as a Quiz Bowl judge and distributed prizes, handshakes and congratulations to the winners of each event, the release stated; prizes included medals, gift cards, team trophies and Apple® iPad® minis for the two Quiz Bowl champions.

“As a young boy growing up in Charlotte, I was fascinated by the creeks in our neighborhood.  My friends and I would play in and around the waterways, learning about various critters whose lives were dependent on the water and surrounding ecosystems,” offered Howard. “As we grew older, we would even fish, swim and build rafts in the larger creeks. It was a wonderful part of my childhood that helped mold my view today on protecting Earth’s most precious resource: water.

“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 concluded. “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 stated.

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 noted.

The inaugural competition took place in June 2016, the release concluded.

National Carwash Solutions partners with AEA Investors

GRIMES, Iowa — National Carwash Solutions (NCS) recently announced that its management team has partnered with AEA Investors in a strategic recapitalization to accelerate the growth of the company and expand the products and services NCS provides its customers, according to a press release.

AEA Investors is a global private equity firm that focuses on industrial products, chemicals and consumer retail sectors, the release noted.

Previously, NCS was owned by Trivest Partners, the release added; BlackArch Partners was retained by Trivest Partners and NCS management to serve as their exclusive financial advisor.

“We are excited to have partnered with AEA Investors. This transaction will allow us to continue to strengthen our leadership position within the industry and best position us for growth in the coming years,” said Michael Gillen, CEO of National Carwash Solutions. “We had an immediate connection with AEA. It was apparent there was a great fit between our two companies. We found their expertise ideal for our long-term vision to provide innovative solutions that make our customers successful.”

“We truly enjoyed working with NCS and being a part of their growth strategy,” said Russ Wilson, partner with Trivest Partners. “We are happy that AEA Investors is on board to continue the growth of NCS at this juncture of their history.”

A definitive agreement has been signed, and the closing is subject to HSR and standard closing conditions, the release concluded.

Mike Jacques joins Mark VII as tunnel sales manager

ARVADA, Colo. — Mark VII Equipment Inc., the North America subsidiary of WashTec AG of Germany, recently announced that Mike Jacques has joined the company as tunnel sales manager, according to a press release.

Jacques has 19 years of sales and operations experience in the carwash industry at companies that include MacNeil Wash Systems, PECO Car Wash Systems and PD McLaren, the release stated; he earned a business degree from Georgian College and resides in Ontario, Canada.

“I’m pleased to welcome Mike to the Mark VII team,” said Chris Andersen, CEO of Mark VII. “With the introduction this week of our new SoftLine2 tunnel equipment, Mike’s extensive experience in the tunnel market segment will be a great boost to our growing tunnel business.”

Crew Carwash raises over $9,000 for the Monroe County Humane Association

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Crew Carwash announced that it is donating $9,000 to the Monroe County Humane Association, according to a press release.

During the fundraiser, which took place from March 31st to April 1st, Crew Carwash provided a free Ultimate Wash, a $20 value, to any customer who came by the new Bloomington facility, located at 3430 W. 3rd St., the release continued.

Crew also accepted cash and credit card donations in return for the washes, with 100 percent of all proceeds donated to the Monroe County Humane Association, the release stated.

The initiative resulted in a total of $9,000 for the Monroe County Humane Association, an organization that advocates and educates on behalf of animal welfare, the release added; volunteers from the Humane Association were present at the Bloomington location throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.

“As part of our continued efforts to give back to communities throughout Indiana, we are so happy to give this donation to the Monroe County Humane Association, said Sally Grant,  “This partnership not only helped raise money for this wonderful organization but also awareness about the humane association. We hope the people who came out to our Bloomington location will become lifetime customers.”

To learn more about Crew Carwash, visit www.crewcarwash.com.

Consumers can connect with Crew on social media on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

To learn more about the Monroe County Humane Association, visit www.monroehumane.org or connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

Downtowner Car Wash opens third location in Cape Coral

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — According to www.news-press.com, father and son team Jay and Troy Montpetit opened their third Downtowner Car Wash in Cape Coral at 1707 Cape Coral Parkway East in January.

As part of their grand opening celebrations, they are offering free exterior washes throughout April to bring in new customers, the article noted.

“If people come here and try it out, they’ll really like it,” Troy Montpetit said.

The full-service carwash has a 140-foot tunnel, a detailing bay, a dog wash, a waiting room that offers free Wi-Fi and 22 free vacuum bays, the article stated.

In addition, kids (and adults) can fire water streams at the cars as they go through the tunnel wash, the article continued.

“It’s done right,” Jay Montpetit said. “We really wanted to build something Cape Coral would be proud of.”

Prices range from a basic $6 wash to an $18 exterior supreme wash, the article added.

Together, all three washes have around 200 employees, with 40 at the newest site, the article stated; the Montpetits have plans to build a fourth and fifth wash and are beginning on the fourth one.

The carwash’s name is carried over from the first wash that Jay’s father bought in 1978 in St. Paul, Minnesota; Jay began coming to Cape Coral in 2002 and opened the first Downtowner Car Wash there soon after, the article noted.

This location also offers a three-bay pet wash that includes a tub, the option to use a ramp or steps for the pet, vet-grade shampoo offering odor remover, conditioner warm rinses, wet vacuum and blow drying, the article noted.

It costs $5 for a seven-minute wash and $10 for a 15-minute wash, the article stated.

“It’s wildly popular,” Jay Montpetit said. “With no muss, no fuss and 10 minutes later you can have a clean, dry dog.”

Star Car Wash breaks ground

MASSILLON, Ohio — According to www.indeonline.com, Massillon, Ohio’s local Progressive Auto Group, a car dealership, broke ground on a Star Car Wash, “where we make your car the Star.”

Craig Sanders, president of Progressive Auto Group, and his brother Tim are the fourth-generation in their family to run the company, which opened in 1937, the article stated.

Customers will soon be able to buy a car, get it serviced and get it washed at Progressive’s shops, the article noted.

Star Car Wash will offer free vacuums and be able to wash more than 100 vehicles per hour, the article added.

Star Car Wash is expected to open Aug. 1st, the article concluded.