The past year was shaped by optimism for the industry, thanks to a slight turn in the economy, as well as sadness, after having to say goodbye to notable industry icons who influenced the carwashing industry. And, while many were saddened by the passings of John Jurkens, the founder of Octopus Carwash on January 7; Sonny Fazio, the founder of SONNY’s on April 17; Kerry Shimada of Arcadian Services on May 4; and Lucian “Mac” McElroy, founder of Proto-Vest died on May 8; it was also an uplifting year in many ways.

On loss and respect

For instance, many noted that it was a positive year for them, in terms of revenue, upgrades and car counts. Back in January, a poll posted on asked how things were going so far. The majority of the votes showed that things were better than they were in 2012.

Poll: In terms of business, so far, 2013 has been…

In February, the International Carwash Association’s® Wash Count™ program showed that the carwashing industry throughout the U.S. grew in 2012 and was continuing to grow. “Posting gains in both average carwashes per location (wash counts) and average revenue per carwash (ticket average). In 2012, wash counts grew by 2.1 percent, while ticket average grew by 2.6 percent,” a press release stated.

U.S. Car Wash Industry Shows Growth in 2012

As the industry started to grow, so did the carwash chains. Mister Car Wash added 41 locations within a year, bringing their total to 125 carwashes nationwide. Goo-Goo of Columbus, GA, grew to 31 locations, and Drive Clean, LLC (Boomerang), North Little Rock, AR, grew to 29.

Suppliers and manufacturers expanded as well. National Pride Equipment of Ashland, OH, has acquired the assets of Internet and catalog carwash parts distributor Car Wash Superstore; and Ryko Solutions, Inc. of Grimes, OH, acquired MacNeil Wash Systems, Ltd. of Barrie, Ontario, Canada.

Ryko Solutions enters into an agreement to acquire MacNeil Wash Systems

2013 was also a year that brought about governmental changes, thanks to Obamacare and the California Assembly Bill; and demands for rights, thanks to the Unions that formed and grew in California and New York.

The California Assembly Bill

State of the unions

All in all, and in spite of losing several key players in the industry, it seemed to be a year of positive improvements.According to Eric Wulf, CEO of the International Carwash Association®, 2013 was a year of grown and 2014 will benefit as a result. “From an industry perspective, our view is that 2013 has been a year of growth for carwash operators and suppliers. We've seen growth in equipment sales, wash counts and ticket averages. Though mostly in the lower single digits, recovery and growth appears steady.”

Since five years ago, when the industry was hurt by economic turmoil, Wulf said he has seen things go from bad to better. “Since then [2008], I believe the industry as a whole — operators and suppliers —find themselves in a much better cost position, having gone through dramatic down- or right-sizing during the economic contraction. We've also seen more acquisitions and mergers during this five-year period than we saw in the previous five years; and I expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.”

Now, as we move into 2014, what will the year involve? From the popularity of things like hot wax and LED lighting, to the introduction of more and more water reclamation systems, will new trends emerge?

Looking ahead to 2014

According to Brent McCurdy, president of Blendco Systems, the industry is in more of an
“enhancing” stage than we are in an overhauling phase. “Of course you will always have some of both,” he said, “but things seem to be leading toward upgrades, improvements, innovations and cost savings verses complete replacements. The specifics around enhancing include the addition of revenue-generating options like hot wax, bubble presoaks and the like.” As for green trends, McCurdy said people are looking more at reclaim and ways to save money and resources.

And, whether you had a good and profitable 2013, or were still building your revenue stream, it’s important to look ahead with a well thought-out plan in place; and know we here at PC&D are here to help. Let us know what you would like to see more of in upcoming issues or by commenting below or emailing Editor Debra Gorgos at [email protected].

Have a wonderful holiday and see you next year.