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VOL. 38, NO.

1, WINTER 2014

$10 PER ISSUE

Innovations
for Self Serve;

Hot Wax, LED


Lights, and More!

A Look
Back at the
First Issue of SSCWN
and the First Decade of Self
Serve Carwashing!

In-Bay
Express:

Is A Mini Tunnel
in Your FUTURE?

PLUS! NRCC and SECWA Road Show


Coverage! Tour Green Clean Auto Wash
in Virginia Beach! Find Darwin at the
Carwash! AND SO MUCH MORE!

JANUARY 2014

CONTENTS
On the Same Page................................. 3
Carrs Corner.......................................... 8
Carrying the Torch..............................10
Letters...................................................11
Looking Back.......................................17
History of SS Carwashing, the 60s.....20
NRCC Show Report...............................38
Industry News......................................44
Grace for Vets........................................53
IRS Secrets............................................56
Innovations..........................................58
On the Road at Green Clean...............66

On The

Same
Page
PHOTO COURTSEY JARRET J. JAKUBOWSKI

IBA to IBE Conversion........................71


LED, Follow, or Get Outta the Bay......76
Darwin at the Carwash........................78
Tips & Tricks from ACF.......................80
SECWA Roadshow.................................82
Assoc. Calendar of Events...................87
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign............90

VOL. 38, NO. 1, WINTER 2014

Publisher Jackson Vahaly


Editor Kate Carr
Design Katy Barret-Alley
Editor Emeritus Jarret J. Jakubowski
Editor Emeritus Joseph J. Campbell
Editor Posthumous Julia E. Campbell
Self Serve Carwash News is published 4
times per year and is independently owned by
Jackson Vahaly.Web address is www.sscwn.com.
All inquiries should be directed to:

SSCWN
110 Childs Ln., Franklin, TN37067
jacksonv@sscwn.com
Copyright 2014.
2 Dollar Enterprises/SSCWN.All Rights Reserved

Hello, there. Remember us the SSCWN and me? Its been a couple
years since we last had the privilege and pleasure of serving you, the
operators and suppliers of the self service carwash industry.
While my service under this masthead started in
1984, the SSCWN began way back in 1972 thanks
to Joe and Julia Campbell. They were just Mom
n Pop operators, but these pioneers became dedicated to a mission and need well beyond tending
to their own 6 bay.
In the not so good old days, self service carwashing
was not an industry. It was a wild frontier ripe
with opportunity, but rife with shady, sell and run
suppliers and terribly unreliable equipment. Back
in that bygone day, there was a void of information
(let alone fellowship) in the isolated world of SS
carwash operation. And, truth be told, the Carwash Establishment of
that time wanted it to
stay that way.
The tunnel industry
and their national
association and their
trade mags were adamantly invested in the
status quo. That status being to keep the
voids deep and dark for
SS that cheap, upstart competitor of the
real carwash business!.
Bucking all that,
the Campbells helped
change all that. They simply wanted to provide a
forum for operators to connect with other operators
and honestly share what worked and what did not.
It was a classic only in America story. Joe hunt n
pecked on a Remington typewriter. You young uns
out there might find it hard to believe, but cut and

paste used to involve actual cutting and pasting.


And so the Campbells pasted together the Self
Service CarWash News newsletters on their kitchen table. The first copies were cranked out on a
hand cranked mimeograph machine. Distribution
and networking was a tediously slow, long term,
determined effort. Initially, after finding capable
help to tend to their wash, Joe and Julia drove their
van up and down and all around California. They
went town to town, searching out washes, operators
and their stories and tips.
Then they drove to national and regional carwash
trade shows all around the country connecting
with more operators in the
host cities and still more
along the way. All these experiences were bundled up
into Carwashes On The
Road the ongoing, centerpiece article that became
the SSCWNs hallmark
and cornerstone.
Self service carwashing has been a business
environment heavily populated with very independent, lone wolf owner/
operators. So its amazing
that the SSCWN came to
penetrate that impenetrable market largely by
word-of-mouth! The Campbells primed the proverbial pump and got operators talking to operators across town and then coast to coast.
By the time yours truly entered the picture in
{continued}
JANUARY 2014

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JANUARY 2014

1984, Joe and Julia had done all the heavy lifting. Yes, I continued to use typewriter, scissors
and glue to cut and paste until finally discovering computers and page layout programs a dozen
or so years later. But I saw myself as not much
more than a window dresser. Staying true to the
SSCWNs well established mission, priorities, and,
if you will, karma was a no brainer.
My retirement in 2011 and ceasing publication
had nothing to do with conventional wisdom and
trends. All the years and some pesky health issues had caught up to me and only me. While I
was personally tapped out, the SSCWN was not.
Some industry insiders had surmised that the
passing of the SSCWN was a result of the failing health of self serve carwashing itself nope.
Others opined and parroted that print media is
oh sooo dead. So the SSCWN, being just another
dinosaur, its time for extinction had come oh
so wrong, again! The fact is (and despite trends),
this printed publication had an abundance of
both subscribing operator readers and advertisers
to keep it very much alive n kicking and then
some! Me? Not so much.
It had been my expectation that a motivated
young turk would appreciate the special value and
viability of the SSCWN, pick up the torch, and
carry it on up to the next level. Some acquisition
guy outside the carwash industry would not, could
not get it. So I was convinced that the SSCWNs
next owner/publisher must come from within the
industry. It had to be someone on the inside who
really knew carwashing and personally grasped the
extraordinary devotion to the SSCWN. That turk
may very well have been out there. But, as Ive often remarked: Im not a salesman. Im just an order
taker. That order did not arrive. And I never tried
to sell, sell, sell.
But then, earlier this year, who should arrive but
Jackson Vahaly a well credentialed and robust
carwash industry insider ... albeit one whos newly
minted. A couple years ago, Jackson acquired the
carwash industrys premier website and self serves
fav, the Auto Care Forum (www.autocareforum.
com). Although new to carwashing, Jacksons a
quick study. He got an earful (and web posts-ful)
emphatically suggesting that he pick up the SSCWNs torch and carry it on. Hearing the popular
demand loud and clear, Jackson contacted me. We
slow danced around until I was quite confident that,
yes, this guy really could play mid-wife for the rebirth of SSCWN.
And when he informed me that Kate Carr, wunderkind former editor-in-chief of Professional Carwashing & Detailing, would be our new editor
the deal was sealed!
Back to the Campbells. Julia passed in 2001. Joe,
however, turned a very spunky, sharp 89 this November. He is absolutely thrilled to learn that their
baby SSCWN would once again step into
the world of carwashing and was prepped to hit a
solid stride. Joe and I are pleased and proud that
Jackson and Kate truly get it. First and foremost,

JANUARY 2014

PHOTO COURTSEY JARRET J. JAKUBOWSKI

On The Same Page

they understand and appreciate the SSCWNs operator-centric values and priorities. Then theres all
the in-depth nuts and bolts stuff leavened with the
human element thats integral to the mix.
And, of course, theres the medium is the message component. I love print. And Im not alone.
Kindle and its digital online kin have their place.
But for many of us, they cannot hold a candle to
this medium and its, its ... sensuality. Theres the
feel the warmth of premium newsprint on
the fingers. The subtle scent blend of printers ink
and the processed wood pulp the meat from
butchered trees. And the heft and dimensions of an
oversized publication format such as SSCWN that
says more is more! Okay, granted, most of you do
not see your affection for print quite so, uh, romantically. But I guarantee you that at some level (conscious or not) and to some degree you are there.
A survey of subscribers revealed an overwhelmingly
insistence that the old print format be continued.
And so it shall. Its not unlike the younger generations Going Back To The Future to re-discover
the experience of truly great sound quality as only
old fashioned vinyl LP records can deliver.
Jackson and Kate probably have a different personal perspective on all that. But, again, I know they
get it. So we find ourselves, literally and figuratively, on the same page. And speaking of Kate
When she learned that I had finally agreed to pass
that torch to Jackson, she very graciously expressed
her appreciation for the opportunity. And I was immensely gratified to find out (better late than never)
that she had been such a huge, bona fide SSCWN
fan. She also shared some trepidation about carrying on the tradition and meeting the expectations
of loyal, long time subscribers. I made it clear that I
had every confidence in her. Shes bound to create

a great groove with the SSCWN and make it her


own. To illustrate the point, I offered a somewhat
shaky analogy, but it was the first that came to my
offbeat mind: I envision Kate taking the helm of the
SSCWN kinda sorta like the evolving James Bond
franchise.
To most charter fans (including me), Sean Connery defined THE way and THE who Bond had to
be. Decades later, after a string of tall, dark handsome
types, along comes a very different guy, Daniel Craig
a pretender to the throne many of us thought.
However, the new kid (much to most everyones
surprise) breathed needed life, energy, and a refreshing new take on that vintage formula. It worked and
will continue to work big time for a long time. And
so it will be with Kate. She has more than just a license to kill in this arena shes got the smarts,
will and chops to do it right! Beyond that, if the self
serve carwash family will give Kate and Jackson its
support and encouragement the advent of a new
and improved SSCWN could help hearken a new
next level of success for our industry.
Postscript: Its a deliciously appropriate point in
time at which Im starting to write these musings for
your digestion in the premier issue of the reborn
SSCWN. I just happen to be digesting our familys
feast on Thanksgiving Day 2013. And it was exactly
50 years ago on Thanksgiving Day 1963 that
the very first coin-op, self service carwash opened
its bays for business in Ardmore, Oklahoma! Happy
Golden Anniversary Self Serve!

Jarret J.
Jakubowski

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JANUARY 2014

Carrs

Corner
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

First, a thank you to the many excited readers who have reached out to express their eagerness for SSCWNs
revival and to extend a congratulations to myself and publisher Jackson Vahaly ahead of our first issue. Your
enthusiasm is contagious and it is absolutely what will drive us as we begin the challenging work of taking up
from where the renowned Jarret J. Jakubowski -- as well as his predecessors, Joe and Julia Campbell -- left off.
It might surprise you, but my favorite emails
and online forum comments are actually from
the skeptics. Id be lying if I didnt admit I share
some of your concerns in regards to maintaining
the quality and quantity of content you were accustomed to reading in the pages of SSCWN every few months. JJ was so very talented, so very
knowledgeable, and so very invested in the carwash industry; it is difficult to imagine that any
person could successfully fill his shoes -- let alone
a 29-year-old stay-at-home mother of two. (Who
at this moment has one child shouting for me to
please help him put new batteries in Thomas the
Tank Engine and another who desperately needs
her nose wiped. So, for those of you who might
be curious, the answer is: E-mail is always better
than a phone call. At least with e-mail you wont
be bothered by the complete and utter domestic
chaos in the background.)
Those skeptical voices reassure me that the
frank, honest and open debate you were accustomed to having with JJ will continue on.
That you know your complaints and criticisms will be heard as carefully and with as
much consideration as your compliments. And
that is what will always guide this publication:
Your voice. This publication has always been
and will remain by and for the operator. Without
your voice, it is empty. As long as you are willing
and able to share your thoughts and comments
and criticisms, we will have a new issue.
One of the concerns floating around does need
to be addressed now. A few readers are worried
my background in traditional trade media
may suggest this publication is headed in that
direction. That its content will become influenced
by the money directed towards the glossy pages at
your right. Let me be the first and the loudest to
assure you (again and again if necessary) that is
absolutely not going to happen.
I repeat: The decision to revive SSCWN was
made in the understanding that SSCWN will only
be successful if it stays true to its historical core
beliefs and long-standing tradition as being the
only independent publication in the

JANUARY 2014

carwash industry.
SSCWN will rely on these well-established
strengths moving forward:
The iconic covers. Especially the ones that can
become more than art to grace the office walls,
but conversation pieces and propaganda to decorate the carwash walls, as well.
The open, honest, and refreshing conversation
between readers and publisher, which begins with
the Letters to the Editor and continues to feature in each and every article we print.
In-depth articles and expert authors who
have the freedom to write and write and write
and write and thoroughly exhaust any subject
which is important to self serve operators with
reporting which remains uninfluenced by advertising dollars.
Acknowledgement of the role carwash manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and association groups
play in the carwash industry, and a respect for their
needs, interests and views, as they are oftentimes
mutual or at least integral to the operators.
One thing you wont find in the new SSCWN:
Political commentary from me; at least none that
isnt directly related to the carwash industry. Sorry, folks! I subscribe to the Joe Campbell School
of Thought on such topics (as he advised JJ in
a 2005 issue following a rather intense election
season), although weve given JJ the freedom to
come back and opine whenever he gets the itch,
so I wouldnt completely rule out a rant or two
for those of you who looked forward to his world
views. (And Id be lying if I didnt count myself
among them.)
Youll also notice weve modernized some of
the layout and the papers logo in order to usher
in the new ownership, and there is now a website for maintaining your subscription and poster
orders. Embracing some of the conveniences of
modern technology without comprising the integrity of our work or alientating our readership
is our goal and we are happy to take your suggestions and feedback as we work towards this end.
In that regard, we stand to take advantage of
one important asset in our new ownership: Direct

association with AutoCareForum.com. As the


ACFs founder Bill Pitzer explained back in 2009,
The purpose of the Forum was to give the little
guy a soap box, and we believe that intention is
directly aligned with the purpose of the SSCWN.
Going forward, you will see content repurposed
from the ACF, as well as new content that is inspired by user posts from the ACF. Our staff will
regularly use the ACF to connect with readers,
and we encourage you to use it as a way to engage with fellow operators, industry suppliers and
manufacturers, as well as ourselves.
The last and most important strength that was
so integral to SSCWNs success was Mr. Jakubowski himself. If you didnt shake his hand in person
at a trade show, you most certainly got to know
him through his candid writing in this publication and on Auto Care Forum. He was beyond
knowledgeable, a virtual car wash encyclopaedia
of sorts, and a master of debate. I cannot hope to
replace him, but only to pick-up where he left off
and try to get out of the way of the reader as
much as possible. I consider myself to be a midwife of each issue, and will do what is necessary to
assist the operators in telling their own stories and
finding their own success. Again, SSCWN is your
voice. Im simply trying to capture it in print.
In that vein, let me tell you a little about myself.
I identify most with the young guys (and sometimes gals) who grew up in the car wash industry. Thats because I started writing about car
washing the day after my college graduation, on
December 12, 2005, when I was only 21 years old.
(Yes, JJ, you read that correctly. At the time you
were taking over for J&J, my parents were only
just celebrating my birth.) I started as an Assistant
Editor at Professional Carwashing & Detailing,
and by that August I was the Assistant Managing
Editor. A few months later I was named Managing
Editor and on to Editor in Chief by the time I
was 23. It was an untraditionally fast ascent, both
for PC&D, its parent company and trade media
in general, but its never been my nature to walk
when I could run.
{continued }

JANUARY 2014

Carrs
Corner
I resigned my position at PCD after five years,
a (very short) week before I gave birth to my
first child, a boy we named Carter. While I owe
so much to that publication, I knew I wouldnt
return to traditional trade media when the
time came to get back behind the keyboard.
There were too many rules, and too many
toes we were constantly afraid of stepping on.
Ill never forget my first real story assignment,
helping with a cover story about the recently
(and dramatically) failed Rapido Rabbit express exterior car wash chain. I was responsible
for calling all of the disgruntled former employees. The ones who had been handed pink
slips instead of paychecks. I took such careful
notes, asked all the important questions, and in
the end their voices -- which had poured out
to me over hours-long interviews -- were limited to tiny sentence-long quotes, mere soundbites, in a cover story which mostly served as
a watered-down mea culpa for the companys
founder (and frequent contributor to PCD)
Steve Gaudreau. It was my first lesson in how
(most) B2B magazines work, and while I remain proud of most of what I accomplished
there, that memory still stings.
For a year, I enjoyed my new role as Carters
mom. I didnt accept my first freelance gig -- a
feature article for the ICAs new publication -until just a few weeks before his first birthday,
and by then I was five months pregnant. I did
steady freelance work for Ryko Solutions after my daughters birth, and continued to keep
busy in the carwash industry until I got the
call from Jackson about SSCWN. (And here,
I must thank Jackson for continuing to have
faith in me, because I was so giddy and excited
at the prospect of writing for SSCWN that I
must have talked a mile a minute on that first
call.) I have (quite literally) found my dream
job and look forward to working with you to
create a publication which carefully mirrors
and projects the interests of its readers and carries on the legacy which JJ and J&J crafted over
the last 40 years.

Carrying
the

Torch!
FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Ive really enjoyed getting this paper back up and running. And being
a neophyte in a carwash industry, you can imagine the learning
curve. Over my 25 years in the publishing/marketing/communications
business, I dont remember ever coming across a publication with a
more devoted following than SSCWN. Im lucky to be its new publisher
and want to tell you a little bit about how this came to pass.
As Ive been playing catch-up, Ive been reading back issues and have gotten to know the
mold-breaking, yarn-spinner extraordinaire Jarret
Jakubowski a little bit over the past year. Weve
talked about a lot of things, including how fortunate he was for his opportunity to carry the
torch from his hero, original SSCWN founder Joe
Campbell, back in 85. Yup, Jarrets as fun to talk
to as he is to read. He waxed rhapsodically about
his publishing philosophy, and about his appreciation for his readers - a mutual admiration society. Hes got an open invitation to contribute
here whenever he wants.
I became aware of the opportunity to restart
SSCWN while doing my due diligence to buy AutoCareForum from Bill Pitzer in 2012 and started
looking into it right after we closed. I decided to
go for it if I found the right editor, but knew that
would be no small task. Eventually, I was introduced to Kate Carr (special kudos to Pat Hall). Everyone spoke so highly of her personally, and her
well-earned industry reputation was forged as the
former Editor at Professional Carwashing & Detailing. Her work here will speak for itself over time.
SSCWN will strive to have fun honoring its

Thank you for reading,

Kate Carr

Rounding out our contributions from three generations of SSCWN


staff, here is a photographic hello! from SSCWN founder and Editor
Emeritus Joe Campbell. You can learn more about how Campbell and
his wife founded SSCWN on page 17 and in the next chapter of The
History of Self Serve Carwashing to be published next month.
10

JANUARY 2014

traditionally independent, grass-roots journalism,


and its mission will remain to serve the interests of the Self Serve operator community. That
means well be relying operator input as SSCWN
always has, and we encourage you to send letters
and emails, or go to AutoCareForum and share
your feedback with Kate.
Finally, a big thank-you to all our family, friends,
advisors, subscribers, contributors, readers, photographers, designers, printers, fulfillment house
- everyone who plays a part in the publishing of
SSCWN. This also wouldnt be possible without
the trust and support of our advertisers, so please
be sure to browse their offerings and show them
special consideration.

We sincerely hope you like it!

Jackson Vahaly
P.S. If youre in the rotation and
received this paper but havent
subscribed yet, be sure to sign up at
sscwn.com to make sure you receive
(and archive) every issue.

LETTERS
You are getting close to the first issue of the new SSCWN which all of us are looking forward to reading. You asked for stories about JJ that may have
changed our car wash life.
Mine was few weeks after 9-11-2001 when I was
an exhibitor at the Western Car Wash show being
held at the Rio in Las Vegas. I had reserved a space
at this show long before 9-11 happened and we had
no idea if anyone would fly in or even drive to Vegas.
This was only my 3rd show with ShurVend Vendors
and our minds were not really well focused after the
Twin Towers fell. I thought the show would be slow
and boring so we thought about how we could have
some fun during of our time there. Everybody was
very patriotic at the time with red, white, and blue
everywhere.
My wife and I went down to a local costume shop
and rented an Uncle Sam suit to wear in the booth
to maybe bring a smile to those that attended. Fancy
suit with lace on my cuffs, but no goatee!!! Since it
was a spur of the moment decision no time to grow
hair and didnt want a stick on beard.

I have nothing earth shattering, but have read the SSCWN since probably before JJJ. I am a second generation car washer. My late dad owned or managed a car
wash since 1969, and I have been reading SSCWN
since the 70s. I have a couple of stories that arent remarkable, but stand out to me.
I think I won a contest by locating a booth in an
overhead picture of the convention floor. The prize was
a frameable cover re-print. I picked the Homer Simpson repairing a pump issue. I was the one that suggested changing the names on the hat and shirt to mine
and my washes name.
At another convention I was walking by the Extrutech booth and was flattered when I saw that
they were using a picture of my wall that had been
rehabbed with their product. Just a few minutes later I
was at the SSCWN booth and saw that same wall in
the current issue, but in the before state, pretty much
showing people What not to do. I grabbed a copy
and headed over to the Extrutech booth and gave it to
them. They displayed them side-by-side for the rest of
the show.
Me being a lifelong resident of a small town of
10,000, I know a lot of people. My wife (from a city of

Reader Input & Feedback

As expected the show was slow, but


we had some fun and people did smile
at my being Uncle Sam. Then
JJ
came by the booth and was he duly
impressed and exuberant as usual;
he could not get enough pictures of
the Uncle Sam outfit. It was he who
told me to grow a goatee and be Uncle Sam at the next show(s).
That is how I became Uncle Sam at all the car wash
shows we exhibited in and
this has continued at every
show since. Now you know
the rest of the story.

Jim Holve
Big Eagle Enterprises
dba
ShurVend Vendors

175K) thinks I know them all. The kicker was when


we were on a canoe trip through the wilderness, 100
miles from home and someone shouted my name. Well,
a few years ago I was sitting at a poker machine at
Treasure Island in Las Vegas and heard a couple chatting directly behind me. I didnt pay much attention
until the man said Lets just sit next to Pat. I turned
around to see JJJ and his wife Colleen. They sat down
and within a few minutes my wife popped around the
corner, to which I said Look honey, I bumped into
someone I know. I know thats not that much of a
stretch since it was the last day of the convention, but
we werent at the convention hotel and most conventioneers had gone home.
Anyway, the SSCWN has been a big part of my
success, or at least for not failing miserably. This forum
has been great as well, and on top of all of the business
related benefits I have made some of my best friends in
the whole world right here. I plan to retire in 6 years,
but have no plans to vacate these two venues nor the
friends that I have gained.
Thanks, JJJ, Bill, & now Jackson and Kate.

- Pat Hall via AutoCareForum.com

Jim,

All these years of seeing you


at the various trade shows and
I never bothered to ask about
the Uncle Sam get-up! In fact, I
can recall the iconic Uncle Sam
cover of SSCWN (Spring 2009,
I believe), and my first thought
was, What the heck is Jim doing on the cover?
The inspiration behind the
costume is even better than the
photo-op it provides; and it does
not surprise me in the least to
learn of JJs hand in perfecting
your role. Yet another example
of his influence in this industry
and how it will continue to be
felt in small ripples and waves
for many years to come.

Were glad to hear youre sticking


around for the long haul -- because I
doubt wed let you go without a fight.
In fact, Id like to take this opportunity
to give a very special (and very public)
thank you to Pat Hall, without whom
the resurrection of SSCWN would not
have happened. Pat first urged Jackson
to begin the work of bringing SSCWN
back to print a few years ago, and then
connected myself and Jackson Vahaly
in early 2013. In addition to his persistence in those matters, he graciously
loaned me over a dozen back issues of
SSCWN so I could begin studying at
the University of JJJ this Summer. He
has been the first strike of the match
and serves as an excellent reminder of
what has made this publication so successful and important to its industry.

Thank you, Pat. It is very


much appreciated.

Reader Input & Feedback


All communications should be directed to: SSCWN |110 Childs Ln. / Franklin, TN 37067 |615-594-0263 |katec@sscwn.com
JANUARY 2014

11

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16

JANUARY 2014

Looking
Back

on 40 years of SSCWN
In the process of handing off
SSCWN, JJ was kind enough to
send on a few old photos he dug
up of its founders, Joe and Julia
Campbell, and as the saying
goes, the pictures told a story of
a thousand words. Still, I wanted
to know a bit more about the last
40 years of Self Serve Carwash
News, and I know our readers
share my curiosity.
JJs letter (p. 3) covered the
genesis of SSCWN (and we

will publish even greater detail


about its birth in the next
segment of The History of Self
Serve Carwashing,) but we
remained in the dark as to how
JJ, a non-operator who is more
passionate and knowledgeable
than the most enthusiastic self
serve carwasher, came on board
its editorial mast. JJs response
to my question (Just how did
you get roped into this gig,
anyway?!) is below:

Kate,
Welllll, my getting roped into the gig is a story within a story.
Long story shortish --Circa 79-80, I was creative director at an ad

dustry with the development and introduction

agency that has a couple carwash OEMs as cli-

of the GS Timers. They were solid state, water

ents: Doyle Vacuums and GinSan. The agency

proof, bullet proof, and versatile ... and helped

went bust --- not all my fault --- blame Jimmy

open a floodgate of electronic innovations that

Carter and the horrific economy. I went free-

followed.

lance and Doyle and GS wanted me to continue


creating their ads and brochures. So I did.

Again, Joe was a big fan of these new products


which were making the rigors of SS operation

In the course of media buys, I got to know Joe

less rigorous and more profitable ... even more

who had immense respect for my clients ... es-

fun. And he really got a kick outta my ads that

pecially GinSan. GSs Jeff Anderson was, you

announced, explained, and promoted these ex-

might say, just like Joe --- just an SS operator

citing electronic wonders! Joe, ready for full re-

who saw a real need. Anderson and his partner

tirement by 83-84, talked to the guys at GS to


{continued }

operators quite literally transformed the SS in-

The Campbells were among the


very first SS operators who made
the giant leap from a quarter up
to 50 ... and they really, really
led the charge to get operators to
do likewise. Believe me, it was a
HUGE drama and trauma for the
QUARTER carwash industry to
double its price! J&J demonstrated
it was more than OK, and inspired
other operators around the country
to break the 25-cent chains.

JANUARY 2014

17

Looking
Back
... CONTINUED ...

see if they thought I might want to (and be able


to) take over the SSCWN. They said, yup. Joe
then called and offered me the opportunity to
take the ownership helm of his publication.
I did not leap at the opportunity. I mean,
wha the wha?!! Popping out one page ads and
4-page brochures was one thing. A great big,
honkin tabloid newspaper/mag was something
else. After a lot of thought (fraught with apprehension), I called Joe and said, okay, lets do it.
I promise you and Julia that I will do my best
to carry on ... and make you proud. Joe said
we should get together in Atlantic City and man
the SSCWN booth there at the 1984 ICA Trade
Show Convention (they were not called Expos
back then). We would introduce me to the industry, as well as sign on the dotted lines to
finalize the transfer of the SSCWN.
Heres the interesting part.
The SSCWN was in a very solid cash flow position. But the Campbells did not sell me the
publication. It was a gift. The SSCWN was

J&J receiving the International


Carwash Associations Award of Merit
at that same 85 show.

Joe and Julias baby. You dont sell your baby.


Instead, when the time is right and theres a
need --- you try to find a trusted foster parent
to adopt. And they so entrusted me to raise
their creation. That meant a LOT to me! When
I speak of the spirit and karma of the SSCWN,
its not offhand nor with pretense. I believe Joe
& Julia imbued the SSCWN with something
akin to a soul --- intangible but real. Geez, I

Then theres a pic of Joe, Julia and


some crazy hippy guy (who somewhat
resembles me) at the 1985 ICA Trade
Show in Washington, DC, shortly after
that crazy hippy guy took the reins of
SSCWN.

realize how New Age flaky that might sound to


some, if not many ... maybe most. But, what can
I say? Other than and unapologetically --- I am
a Believer.

And on a more solemn note, heres our personal favorite shot of


Julia, which was used in her eulogy/tribute in the SSCWN after
her passing in 2000

18

JANUARY 2014

JANUARY 2014

19

the

History of
PART I,

The
1960s

Self Serve Carwashing


Ill start this introduction by explaining we had
originally planned a different cover story for our
debut issue. It was about saving money (LED lights,
finding the right chemical for your wash, improving
performance of your foaming brush on the cheap,
yknow, all the basics and then some), and while
it was perhaps not the sexiest of topics, it was an
important one.
But then, over the course of a few e-mails this
past holiday season, JJ asked if I had read The
History of SS. If youre a history buff, you really
should have it as reference, he wrote. It was fitting
our conversation started around Thanksgiving, 51
years to the day that Jack Thompson opened the
very first self serve carwash in Ardmore, OK.
Well, Ill be darned. It really is the perfect primer.
And while there are a few loyal readers who might
have archived it from when it was originally published 15 years ago, Im willing to bet that most of
you are going to be just as intrigued and inspired as
I was as I flipped through the pages only a week or
two before we were due to have our materials to
the printer. As I poured over the wealth of knowledge on those pages, I realized we had no choice
but to bring this story back to print and we made
the decision to scrap our current cover story and

start work on bringing this story back to print.


One of the distinguishing points of SSCWN is
that unlike traditional trade media, SSCWN spent
as much time documenting the history of its industry as it did reporting on its present state and future.
While your typical B2B magazine is focused on the
new, hyped-up and marketable phenomenons and
what can be SOLD SOLD SOLD in the pages, SSCWN has always been dedicated to thoroughly exploring and documenting the linear and sometimes
unpredictable path of innovation and experimentation within the industry in order that operators
might learn from and build upon the past successes
(and mistakes!) that have formed the foundation of
our industry. This, then, is the mission of SSCWN:
History, education, collaboration, and progress.
And so now we have the great and wonderful
privilege of carrying on a great tradition at SSCWN
and reprinting one of the best of those oldies but
goodies, The History of Self Serve, as written by
JJ Jakubowski and first published in Spring 99. We
have edited the copy only where necessary to help
it fit in these pages and have broken it down into
two chapters, starting with the 1960s and concluding with the 1970s in the next issue.

Throughout history many famous men have


expressed critical opinions of historys record.
By: Jarret J. Jakubowski
Henry Ford called history bunk and Napoleon
referred to it as the lie most commonly agreed to.
Is there common agreement when it comes to the
exact who, where and when of the building of the
first coin-op, wand carwash? Well, the conventional
wisdom (our history, such as
it is) says it was a metal 2-bay
built by Jack Thompson in
Ardmore, Oklahoma back in
1962. After digging through
the SSCWN archives of back
issues, I discovered several contenders and a couple
pretenders to the title - First
Coin-Operated Self Service
Jack Thompson
Carwash.

20

JANUARY 2014

What makes identifying and officially declaring THE Founding Father of


this industry so difficult is the fact
that there were numerous individuals around the country working
independently and simultaneously
to similar ends.
The very first pioneers of coinop carwashing installed the service in gas stations in the Mid
West. Actually they were most
often referred to as service
stations back in the 40s, 50s
and early 60s. Motorists had
the family vehicles fueled by uniformed attendants at their friendly neighborhood
{continued }

As an interesting side note, some


other matters which made bringing
this cover story to life even more
apropos for us were:
Back in October, we were among the many
happy party-goers at the ICS-sponsored
Welcoming Party at the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention to sing Happy
Birthday to Herm Deal as he celebrated his 90th birthday. If you dont already
know about Herm, you will see his name
and contributions to the industry featured
prominently in this story.
This December, we toured several Green
Clean Auto Washes in Virginia Beach, several of which are renovated ROBO washes,
you will learn more ROBO and how it got
its start in Southeastern Virginia on page 36
of this story.
As we started to assemble materials for our
Winter 2014 issue, we realized SSCWN
would be celebrating its 40th anniversary
that year (founded in 1972, and effectively
out of publication for two years, this makes
2014 its 40th year of publication). It has
been such a joy to rediscover its history and
to find that its purpose is exactly aligned
with what its original founders intended
back in 1972.

JANUARY 2014

21

the History of Self Serve Carwashing


Texaco, Standard or Sunoco station. Service routinely included oil
and fluids check, windshield and
mirror cleaning, filling tires, free
road maps as well as free sweet
treats for the kids. Also usually
available (at a charge) was another service - carwashing, by way of
attendants with soapy mitts.

Gas nWash
As America approached the
60s, however, the dedication to
full service began to fade. In its
place came a push to efficiency, economy and profit centers
-- bolstering the ol bottom line
in a competitive marketplace.
So starting in the late 50s, coin-op
carwashing at gas/service stations was envisioned as
a way to fill that niche nicely.
In 1959, George Grabenhorst in Flint, Michigan
began promoting and selling a revolutionary carwashing concept he had developed for gas/service
stations. He did so with great gusto and flair. Grabenhorst (an auto racetrack owner) received considerable media attention by demonstrating his unique
wash technique while dressed impeccably and formally in a tuxedo. He made the point that this was a

much easier, quicker, neater,


safer way for service station
personnel to wash cars than
with soapy mitts, bucket and
hose. Grabenhorst was one
of the very first to rely on a
presoak (created by a renown
local manufacturer of detergent products, Stone Soap of
Detroit) which was applied
at low pressure with a wand;
allowed to dwell for a couple
minutes; and then followed
by a rinse from a very simple
L bar spray arch. The whole
process only took about 10-12
minutes per car. Grabenhorst
sold his technique, cleaning
chemistry and equipment package to many oil company stores around the country.
There are two well known individuals within todays modern carwash industry who helped nudge
the American public along the path to self serve, coinop carwashing. They too got their start in gas station
washing. First, Sheldon Russell, who founded Specialty Equipment in Minneapolis in 1961, was selling
rudimentary pressure wash units in conjunction with
coin acceptor/timer boxes -- typically 5 minutes for
25 cents at an open bay adjoining a gas station.

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JANUARY 2014

Based in east Michigan, Ron Bell was independently selling basically the same type of wash
package. Bell would go on to be a primary player
in the development of the National Pride (60s),
founder of Southern Pride (70s), and then helped
stimulate the rebirth of pressure automatics by
co-founding International Touchless (80s). Thanks
to Russell and Bell, by the early 60s, the motoring
public in the Midwest was getting its first taste of
do it yourself, coin op carwashing.
The next step was a giant leap

The First Coin-op Carwash


Carwash
The title of Founding Father of self service carwashing is most often bestowed upon Jack Thompson. He was the one who bundled up all the components into a package recognizable today as a true
carwash with coin operated wand bays selling high
pressure, do it yourself cleaning. This is how his first
carwash carwash came to be...
At age 32 in 1962, Thompson owned the first and
only coin-op laundries in Ardmore, OK. He also had
designed and patented the first coin-op hair dryer
which found great favor in laundromats across the
country. (Housewives could sit in rollers drying/styling their hair while their laundry was washing/drying.) Across the street from that business office there
was a dairy company. One fateful day early in 62

the History of Self Serve Carwashing


Jack Thompson

Travis Harris

Thompson observed some sort of new fangled high


pressure apparatus being used to clean milk containers, equipment and trucks.
Eureka! Bingo! Shazam!!!
Thompson was a fascinating gentleman. An inventor, entrepreneur, visionary raconteur - he immediately saw exciting potential in combining what he
was so familiar with: laundry and coin-op equipment
and this dynamic, new way to blast things clean.
Thompson and his partner, Travis Harris, utilized a
Hypro 5100 pump (2 GPM/300 PSI) atop a washing
machine-like fiberglass tub (about 2 feet in diameter)
on casters with the detergent solution below - the
configuration that pioneer industrial pressure wash
suppliers Britt Tech lays original claim to. Add to that
a water softener, a boiler, and a Greenwald coin acceptor -- just like in the coin-op laundry. The first soap
they used, by the way, was the housewifes favorite

- Tide Laundry Detergent. The


partners assembled this equipment at Thompsons laundromat
and built a one block, roofless pull
in-back out bay there.
Thompson, the consummate promoter, had gotten the towns curiosity
all fired up by doing a bit of advertising
and a lot of talking. The wash opened
for business on Thanksgiving morning 1962. It seemed that the whole
town showed up to check out this
modern marvel: Five minutes of super high
pressure, jet age cleaning power - Wash and Rinse
- for only 25 cents. Many of Admores citizens that
day found cold turkey dinners waiting when they
finally got back home. Local motorists were stacked
in a line two blocks long down Main Street waiting
and jostling for their turn to wash in that one bay upsetting the police who could not have anticipated
such a traffic snarl on a traditionally quiet holiday.
The traffic and market demand was unrelenting.
Customer volume was soon to double. That open air,
block one bay was transformed into a covered 2-bay
metal structure, and soon after that a metal 4-bay
was constructed on the other side of town. Thompson built cabinets around Black & Decker shop vacs
and bolted on coin acceptors -- 10 cents for five
minutes. He created simple vending areas -- soda

pop machine and pay phone. And


soon developed coin-op degreaser
and anti-freeze.
Heres another interesting first
-- after the opening of his second
wash, Thompson had custom tokens minted that were heavy, rich
looking, and large -- between the
size of a quarter and 50-cent piece
-- and accepted in specially designed dual acceptors. The tokens
were sold at a discount ($6 worth
for $5) and used as promotional
premiums. These two simple washes became the prototype for many
thousands of self serves that would be
built before the end of the decade -- ultimately creating what was soon to become Americas most popular carwash.
(Update to original publication: John Jack
Miller Thompson Jr. passed away on September
2, 2009. You can visit a memorial page on the
Internet at www.craddockfuneralhome.com by
searching Jack Thompson.)

Why Did It Fly?


Why was this form of car care so popular with the
public? It was more than price and convenience. Part
{continued }

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JANUARY 2014

23

the History of Self Serve Carwashing


of the explanation is found in how Americans after
World War II were fascinated by the vending/coin-op
concept. It was considered efficient, economical, and
oh-so-modern. From the 30s to the 50s, modern
and automation were a couple of that eras biggest
buzzwords. Automats were a good example of this
trend that enjoyed great public acceptance in the cities of America in the 40s. Automats were very large
cafeterias that vended everything from snacks to
complete, warm meals item by item on little shelves
behind little glass doors, directly to customers.
Starting in the 50s, coin-operated laundries came
on like gangbusters, as they used to say back then.
By the early 60s, about 30,000 of those Laundromats were to be found in cities and towns nationwide. There was a very well established distributor
network in place repping a handful of manufacturers
of the equipment needed to get a laundromat started. Two of the biggest outfits supplying laundromats
around the country, Weben and Cook, were both
headquartered a mere roll of a tumbleweed away in
Dallas, TX -- about 70 miles or so south of Ardmore.
But were getting a bit ahead of ourselves

Ya Gotta Love It
Right from the get-go, Thompson and Travis were
doing (as the old saying goes) land office business
at their coin-op carwashes. Thats a very fitting phase
considering how the Great Oklahoma Land Rush in
the previous century gave rise to the expression. First
it was, of course, the local citizens of Ardmore. They
all wanted to use this exciting, high powered way
to blast a car clean. America was still very much in
love with the gun in the 50s. It was the toy of choice.
And pressure cleaning at an awesome 300 to 400 PSI
with a rifle like wand tapped into every cowboy, GI
Joe and Buck Rogers fantasy harbored by all boys of
all ages.
Anyway, entering the 60s, the country was reading, willing and eager -- prepped, you might say
-- for coin-op carwashing. Almost everyone recognized this was absolutely the right idea at the right
time. Entrepreneurs soon got wind of this hot new
idea. The news of innovative opportunity spread like
summer wildfire through the dry, grassy plains. Very
little formal advertising was involved. It was mostly
a function of word of mouth and tapping into the
coin-op laundry network which Jack Thompson
knew so well.

24

JANUARY 2014

Overnight the entrepreneurial world was beating


a path to the door of Thompsons laundromat office.
He had a fairly good size waiting room -- 15 x 15 feet
-- that was tightly ringed with those smallish chrome
and vinyl chairs so common to laundromats. Those
chairs were filled everyday with men from around
the country who sat anxiously with the hope that
Jack would agree to take their money. But more than
a few came there to get a tour of the orange and
turquoise metal walled wash facility with the sole intention of knocking off the idea. To deter that, Harris
compounded an already confusing meandering array
of pipe runs, hose and wiring by installing a multitude of in-line dummy pressure gauges, valves and
technical looking doo-dads. Most who saw it were
totally intimidated after getting a peek at such complex technology. And most gladly pulled out their
checkbooks.
Thompson and Harris at first sold equipment -$2,500 per bay. Demand led them to then offer a
franchise type of agreement with territories and
access to this patented coin-operated carwashing
method and machinery. The franchise fee alone
(no equipment) was about $15,000. BUt it became
real obvious real quick that the two partners had a
wild tiger by the tail. The demand was bigger than
they could possibly handle -- and getting bigger, fast.
Thompson and Travis had to hire people to shuttle
investors back and forth to the local airport all day,
as well as retain secretaries -- three of them! -- who
were kept busy doing not much more than typing
up contracts. Incredibly, within just 8 short, action
packed months, the newly formed Coin-Operated
Equipment and Machinery Co. had orders for more
than $8 million worth of equipment!

The Laundromat
Connection
This venture was way, way bigger than the two
of them. Thompson and Travis were in desperate
need of big time assistance with manufacturing and
distribution. That help came looking for them in
the form of ALD -- the Chicago-based Automatic
Laundromat Distributors, an arm of Westinghouse,
and Thompsons primary supplier. ALDs president,
Lloyd C. Strite, had been getting an earful of how
extraordinarily well this coin-op carwash/laundry
combo was doing down in Oklahoma. Strite was
convinced that it was the perfect way to expand and
diversify ALD - the company he founded in the 30s
which was the first to put coin-op laundry facilities
in apartments and then created the first standalone
Laundromats. Lloyds daughter, Judy, told the SSCWN that in the early 60s the competition was
crushing -- and getting heavier. Everybody and his
grandmother, she says, was selling coin-op laundry
equipment. Coin-op carwashing was seen as ALDs
way to break away from a pack that was getting every more crowded and hungry.
It was with great relief that Thompson and Travis received an offer from Strite they could not refuse. The burden of way, way too much business
was lifted from their shoulders and passed onto

ALD/Westinghouse organization. So in August of


1963, less than a year after the opening of the first
Coin-Op Carwash, the rights and patent to the
concept were sold. The terms of the deal were not
made public, but some close to the principals said
Thompson and Harris became millionaires overnight, plus were to receive royalties for every carwash bay ALD outfitted. The American Dream and
free enterprise in all its glory!
You have to know when to hold em, know
when to fold em -- and know when to cash em
out. But Thompson and Harris could not have
known how very precariously timed theri sell out
was. Or did they?

Explosive Growth
Soon after ALD entered the picture in 1963, the
phenomenal growth of self service carwashing became explosive. Cook Machinery was a Dallas-based
subsidiary of ALD that manufactured and assembled
equipment (most notably dryers) for coin-op laundromats -- a copyrighted term, by the way, that is
still the property of L. C. Strites family and Cook
Machinery. While ALD/Westinghouse may have secured the original Coin-Operated Carwash patent,
the concept was hardly nailed down. When a patent is filed, it becomes public information, and that
can enable others to analyze it and possibly develop
another method just different enough to squeak by
infringement laws. Others just flat out knock off the
idea. And still others working solely on their own
create still more ways to the same end. All three
happened to ALD. Within 2-3 years their patented
property became, for all practical purposes, public
domain.

The
Competition
Gets Hot, Heavy,
Hard
Given its patents and a large established distributor network, ALD/Cook Machinery assumed they
had a head start and a leg up. There was, however, a
direct competitor in Dallas with similar, mammoth
resources combined with an aggressive drive to grow
and diversify -- Weben. Were told that the competition between the two Dallas-based companies (Weben and Cook) was as much personal as business.
The owners of each looked over the others shoulder. Somewhat routinely, if one got into some sort of
manufacturing venture, so did the other. In the late
50s they both were manufacturing coin-op laundry
equipment and a half dozen other products, too.
Peyton Simpson, Chief Engineer for Weben in
the 60s, says that Webens president Ralph Plumlee caught wind of Jack Thompsons carwash venture in Ardmore in 1862, right after Jack opened
that original one bay. Being only 70 or so miles
away, Weben personnel drove there and were
among the very first to check it out.They were not
all that impressed or intimidated by what Simpson refers to as that (intentionally) confusing rats
{continued }

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Microcoin QL

The MICROCOIN QL is a high speed,


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WASH BAYS
AUTOCASHIERS
VACUUMS
FRAGRANCE MACHINES
CHANGE MACHINES
Its features are many. Here are just a few:
Quick Learn On Board Programming
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For more information on the MICROCOIN QL contact Hi-Performance Wash Systems or one of the distributors listed
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National Pride Equipment OH
Auto Wash Concepts CA
Jim Coleman Company TX
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Kleen-Rite PA
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Water Conservation Services CA
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28

JANUARY 2014

the History of Self Serve Carwashing

nest of hose, pipes, wires and gauges.


Webens most successful product was restaurant
chicken fryer/pressure cookers. But Plumlee knew
they could do coin-op carwashing, too. Weben was
already the leading supplier of water heaters and
making plumbing manifolds, water softeners, as well
as their own coin boxes for coin-op laundries. All
they really needed was pressure washers. In 1962,
Sheldon Russell (remember Sheldons gas station
coin-op wash earlier in this article?) coincidentally
dropped by Weben to introduce a new line of Hypro-powered pressure wash equipment that he was
repping for L&A (a company later to be known as
Landa.) All the pieces were in place for Weben
and they were off to the carwash races. While ALD/
Cook were wrapping up buy out negotiations of the
Thompson and Harris Coin-Op Carwsh patent in
August of 1963, Weben was building its pilot 4-bay
self serve Vend A Wash in Kinney, TX.

The Sky Was The Limit


By 1965, every owner of every one of the
30,000 coin-op laundries in America had heard a
powerful sales pitch. Each had been contacted by
a least one laundry supplier/distributor who presented a compelling case for expanding into coinop carwashing -- the first big push for diversification. Between the two companies, Weben and
Cook were directly plugged into almost all of the
owners of those coin-op laundries. Their respective distributors (450 to 500 of them altogether)
went after that ready-made market with a frenzied energy. Thousands of laundry owners eagerly
bought into the promise -- if you like your coinop laundry, youre gonna love owning a coin-op
carwash. Exact numbers are elusive, but by the
mid 70s its safe to say that both Weben and Cook
had equipped 2,000 to maybe 3,000 washes each!
Thats about one carwash every work day of the
week, year after year.
The numbers are awesome. The revenues,
breathtaking. Weben, for example, had been doing just fine grossing annual revenues in the $2$2.5 million range. But in 1963, the first full year
of selling carwash packages, the companys revenues tripled! The sky was the limit and, without a
doubt, thousands of coin-op laundry owners and
investors bought into some blue sky back then.
The operational problems would become painfully obvious later, but the benefits and advantages
promised up front were self evident -- a no-brainer
-- to those operating laundries.

Jim Coleman, founder of the


Jim Coleman Company in the
late 60s, got into coin-op laundries in 1955. He well remembers those tumultuous times. He
says there was an army on the
march of what were called blue
suede shoe salesmen -- a very
slick cadre of polished, sophisticated distributors who would
promise you the world, take your money, unload a
load of carwash equipment and a stack of corrugated
metal panels in your lap...and run.

Coin-Op Laundries vs.


Coin-Op Carwashes
The thing is, Coleman admits, the sales spiels had
some real substance for someone who knew coinop laundries. First of all, laundries were very vulnerable. Petty thieves with crow bars could do $5,000
worth of damage to washers and dryers stealing $200
in quarters. So you had to shut laundries down late at
night and then be there next morning early to open.
Thats rough on an entrepreneur with another full
time job, while self serve carwashing better accommodated absentee ownership and yet allowed for
full around the clock business, 7 days a week.
And then compare -- customers spent 15 to
25-cents to do a load of laundry which took 30 minutes and 33 gallons of water. On the other hand, a
self serve carwash bay got a whopping 25 cents for
only 5 minutes and used just 10 gallons of water. Of
course, you had fewer bays on site than washing machines/dryers. Still, the benefits and advantages were
not to be ignored. Coin-op laundry owners in lemming like waves became coin-op carwash owners.
A lot was done wrong in the early years of the self
serve carwash business. It was a case of OJT -- on-thejob training -- for virtually everyone involved: Manufacturers, distributors, and operators. The old timers
often characterize it as a period in which we were
making it all up as we went along or the blind were
leading the blind. It was also an uncharted frontier
that soon resembled the Wild West during the Gold
Rush. And, as with most frontiers, it presented a mix
of rough n tumble risk and remarkable reward.
There were several others that were among the
first to rush to this exciting, entrepreneurial frontier.
We should take note of some of those who tromped
on the heels of trailblazers Cook and Weben. But before we do, its important to acknowledge a couple
of things. Despite a considerable amount of stumbling and bumbling getting over that learning curve,
the laundromat experience brought to carwashing
by Cook and Weben included the highest regard for
water treatment basics -- first and foremost, the use
of hot and soft water. Unfortunately, that lesson became vague and dilute over the years. But all that is
old is new again as we shall see.
Also, the seeds of this industry were spread far and
wide during the 1960s. True, more than a few never really sprouted. Many died on the vine. But there
were others who persevered. THey became stronger,

smarter, better and compelled the industry to do likewise. More to the point -- Cook and Weben provided
basic training for numerous individuals who would
go on to found other companies and profoundly influence the evolution of self service carwashing ...as
we shall see.
For now, lets consider several others who early on
at the very least help spread the seeds of self serve
carwashing.

Deep In The Heart of Texas


About six months after Thompson and Harris
opened their first carwash in November of 62, Ray
Ellis was crowded into Jack Thompsons waiting
room among the other hopefuls who had made the
pilgrimage to Ardmore with the intention of getting
a sales territory. After checking out the franchise distributorship opportunity there, Ellis thought there
might be a less expensive way to get into the carwash
business.
Soon after his trip to Ardmore, Ellis found entre
to carwashing through Weben. By 1964, he and a
partner, Jay Windam, were private labeling Weben
carwash packages as Kwik carwashes. Within another year or so, Kwik was fabricating and assembling
pretty much independently in Dallas, too.
Between 65 and the companys reorganization
about 15 years later, Kwik built a lot of washes -- at
least 6,000 bays worth by the early 80s. Besides sheer
volume of washes, there are a couple other noteworthy things to be said about Kwik. They were the
first to do a complete package deal -- land, building,
equipment, and, most importantly, financing. Banks
were extremely skeptical of the coin-op carwash
business. So Kwiks creatively financed arrangements
allowed wannabe owner/operators to access carwashing denied by conventional lenders.
Also significant was the fact that Kwik was the
training ground for a number of individuals who
would go on to even bigger and better things. Most
notably -- Harry Dilling and Joe Harris, who in 1975
founded one of self serve carwashings most prominent manufacturing companies -- Dilling/Harris.
Despite Kwiks racking up so many sales -- sometimes as many as five complete washes per week in
its heydey -- Ellis does not look back at the 60s and
70s as the good ol days. He admits that in the early years there were not a lot of ethics. The business
was extremely competitive. Very cutthroat! On the
coin-op carwash frontier, the naive and timid were
short lived.
The next Texan (albeit a transplanted one) in our
saga was anything but naive or timid.

National Pride
Charts A New
Course
Yet another personal witness to
the phenomenal success of Thompson and Harris coin-op carwash observed what the hubbub was all about soon after Day
One 1962 in Ardmore. Billy Graham was a native
{continued }
JANUARY 2014

29

the History of Self Serve Carwashing


Oklahoman and that wash on Main
Street was along his route as a (guess
what?) coin-op laundry distributor for
Cook Machinery. Graham recognized
that carwashing was the future. So by
1963 he had moved to Fort Worth,
TX right next door to coin-op carwashings primary suppliers in Dallas,
Weben and Cook.
There was (and for that matter, still
is) a considerable amount of commerce between manufacturer/suppliers who were often competitors. For
example, it was not unusual for those
selling Cooks wash packages (marketed as SofSpra
and AutoWashette) to install Weben heaters. Cook
had a clever and patented wand gun with an On/
Wash/Rinse toggle switch built right into the gun
handle which many different companies purchased
from Cook. Weben cut loose of Greenwald slide coin
acceptors (standard in laundries) and went to Cooks
more dependable drop coin type acceptors.
Graham was Cooks top seller of laundromats and
then became their #1 distributor of carwashes, too.
And soon after that, he started his own self serve
carwash company private labeling equipment from
Weben and Cook and manufacturing his own line
in Fort Worth. Within a couple years that company
would become to be independently incorporated
and renown as National Pride.
Billy Graham (no relation, by the way, to the evangelist) built upon the Weben and Cook models of
the time, but soon he began to dramatically redefine
self service carwashing. National Pride implemented
numerous innovative designs and technologies that
much of the industry emulated.

Billys Big Ol Pump


The one thing most vets within the industry most
often refer to is Grahams application of heavy duty
John Bean oil field pumps. Weben, Cook and others all relied on 5000 series Hypro agricultural spray
pumps which produced 1 -2 GPM and 300-500
PSI. They were, you migth say, the Bic pumps of
the 60s. They were disposable. They paid their
keep, but they did not last. Weben had a saying -- operators were sold the old Hypros with the assurance
that each $60 pump you buy from us will work long
enough to generate $6,000 worth of quarters. ...If
you treated them right.
The problem was those Hypro direct drive pumps
were never designed to handle the stress of sustained,
heavy carwash use. They required constant coddling
and routine greasing after every 8 hours of usage. But
too much lubing would kill em just as well as too
little grease. Absentee operators found it easier to
just let them burn out and pop another new one on
line as need be. Some operators had them rebuilt for
about $20, but for others the Hypros soon became
a commodity item. Prices began to drop as competition increased among suppliers. So operators were
known to buy as many as space would allow them
to store and routinely toss burned out pumps into a

30

JANUARY 2014

55-gallon barrel and sell them as


scrap.
Graham, however, broke from
the pack and went with heavy
cast iron (almost 300 pounds), 3
cylinder John Bean pumps that
had been time tested by roughneck well drillers he had seen as
he grew up near the oil fields of
Oklahoma. Regardless of number
of bays in a National Pride facility,
there were only two pumps -- one
for Wash/Soap and the other for
Rinse. They could put out up to
20 GPM at 700+PSI which was enough to handle
6, 8 bays (and more) assuming not all bays were full
with every customer all in either the Wash or Rinse
mode simultaneously. As youd expect with such a
high capacity pump, pulsation was a bear and there
was pressure drop each time a customer began to
wash. Fortunately, US Paraplate developed and patented special high response regulators designed to
correct pulsation and pressure decay in such high
volume pumps.
The big specter hanging over this system was, of
course, a major shutdown. If one pump (Wash or
Rinse) went down, your whole wash was down. Remarkably, that was a rare occurrence. Old time operators tell us that those pumps might go down all
together 2-3 hours every 8 years or so. Even more
remarkable, there are washes built in the 60s still
chugging along those original John Bean pumps
which were often called Green Beans because of
the deep green paint color.

NP Innovations
Other innovative accomplishments attributed to
Graham and National Pride include such things as:
Instant changeover. By way of high pressure solenoids out in the bay which ran water to the bay
and back eliminating line purging when customers
switched from Wash to Rinse.
BIG washes. NP was the first to shatter the standard 4-6 bay carwash model. As a laundromat owner/distributor, he created his bigger is better Lady
Fair coin laundries with dozens of washers/dryers.
Graham did likewise with coin-op carwashes -charging into numerous high traffic locations with
8, 10, 12 and even 16-bay set-ups. These washes
usually proved to be breathtaking successes and by
1972 lead to NPs ceasing to build washes for anyone else and amassing almost 200 totally company
owned and operated locations. That is where the
real money was!
There were a dozen other innovations to which
NP lays claim, such supposed firsts as utilizing prewired and piped ski mounted systems, automatic
soap feed, tire cleaning, variable speed pump drives
and others. Some may be a bit shaky as absolute
firsts, but there are a couple that are fairly solid.
Radiant floor heat and the design of very secure inbay coin vaults. Then again, such accomplishments
were as much a testimony to Billy Grahams ability

to spot, attract and hire top notch


people. The floor heat and vaults
are a case in point. Those were innovative applications first applied
to coin-op carwashing by Ron Bell
-- NPs top distributor who was
based in Port Huron, MI.
Bell was the first in the self serve industry to work
with Herm Deal who was involved in the very first
commercial snow melt system at an automatic rollover at a Shell gas station in the mid 60s up in bitterly cold northern Michigan. Deal further developed
and installed floor heat systems for all Bell built/
supplied washes in Michigan. Deal then went on to
found HUron Valley Sales, which was the first and
foremost supplier of the industrys in-floor, radiant
heat systems -- totally revolutionizing the operation
of washes in the freeze belt.
By 1965, Bell was offered a position as NPs Vice
President of Development...bringing, of course, the
floor heat technique with him, as well as the vault
concept. That was born out of acute necessity in a
Bell Pride of Michigan wash located in ruff, tuff
Dee-troit. The hoods in that hood ripped all six coin
boxes out of the wall the very first night the wash
opened. All six were replaced the next day and all
six were again ripped out the second night! The vault
Bell designed was inspired by one he had seen down
the street at a c-store that used to hold receipts. With
the installation of the concrete embedded, removable combination lock safes the wash began to thrive
safe and secure. As did other NPs and ultimately the
rest of the industry.

One Of A Kind
Bell, however, has absolutely no reservations about
where to attribute NPs success. He has immense regard for Billy Graham who he describe as truly one
of a kind. The most creative, innovative, daring and
successful entrepreneur carwashing has ever seen
will ever see! He was a man always ahead of his time.
On a personal basis, Billy had the ability to inspire
and motivate all those around him to accomplish
great things.
Speaking of being ahead of his time, here are a
couple of intriguing, little known Graham ventures
outside of coin-op carwashing: there was his Famous
Five concept; a franchised, coordinated assemblage
of businesses (coin-op laundry, dry cleaner, self serve
and automatic carwash and gas) together on one site.
A pioneering plan for diversification that was 15
years ahead of most of the industry.
Then there was Grahams brilliantly timed introduction of his take on fast food; the Moon Stations.
They were drive-thrus with a diameter of about 20
feet that were constructed of fiberglass molded into
the shape of flying saucer space ships. Graham had a
handful built and opened them (get this) that day in
1969 when the first astronauts walked on the moon!
These concepts were shot down Graham sold NP
to a Chicago investment company in 69. All they
wanted to do was specialize in NP owner/operated
{continued }

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32

JANUARY 2014

the History of Self Serve Carwashing


self serve carwashes -- again, that is
where they thought the money was.
It would be difficult to overstate
the influence on this industry made
by Billy Graham and National Pride.
Cook and Weben built more wash locations, but NP certainly approached
each in total number of bays by
building much larger washes and almost 800 bays a year for about 10
years. And, as we said, there were
more than a few milestone innovations born at NP. Beyond all that,
you have to consider those industry
leaders who were directly inspired
and motivated by Graham/NP and went on to do
great things in their own right.
Ron Bell left NP in the early 70s after the new
owners decision to build only company owned
washes. Bell went to North Carolina and co-founded
Southern Pride and, as we shall see, would be instrumental in bringing some more exciting changes to
carwashing.
There were two other NP inspired students who
went on to do some amazing things, too -- Pennsylvanias favorite carwashing sons, the legendary Bernardi Brothers, Gene and Bob. But before we move
on to the Keystone State, it should be said that Billy
Graham bought National Pride back in the mid-80s
and sold NP yet again in 1990. He did well; very
well. But whats new or surprising about that?! Everybody knows -- Bill Graham could buy and sell
with the very best of em.

Bernardis Legacy
For centuries, the Italians have been renown for
being the worlds greatest artisans in shoe design,
manufacturing and repair. So there may very well
have been some ethnic heritage involved in paizanos
Gene and Robert Bernardi becoming shoe founders -- suppliers of all the materials a cobbler used
to make and repair shoes; leather, laces, thread, nails,
etcetera.
They had a few other irons in the fire, too, including coin-op laundries from Cook Machinery through
which the Bernardis were introduced to coin-op carwashing. By 1963, the brothers were doing well selling/building Cooks 4-bay AutoWashette self serves
all around central Pennsylvania. But they soon discovered what they considered to be a much better
approach to the carwash business in Billy Grahams National Pride, which they sold for a very
short time. It certainly proved to be more
dynamic and rewarding than supplying
cobblers.
The Bernardis borrowed liberally from the NP playbook. They
tweaked it here and there and
repackaged in all in their own
fashion. They, for example, emulated Grahams two pump,
large wash concept adapting
the large Myers pumps rath-

er than use John


Beans/FMCs -the National Pride
standard.
The Bernardis
were in the carwash business for
a relatively short
time -- less than
10 years. But they
managed to have
a real influence
on the industry in
general and were
a most dominant
force in the Northeast region of the country. They
were well diversified, serious players in the carwash
industry from wand washing to exterior tunnels and
in-bay automatics, pressure and brush. It was hard to
find a gas station or carwash within a several hundred
mile radius of Bernardi headquarters in Harrisburg,
PA that did not have their equipment.
In 1968, the company was acquired by Lionel, the
all-time leading manufacturer of model trains. The
company (pardon the pun) lost steam under the
ownership of the toy train giant even though Gene
and Bob were retained within Lionels carwash division. The Bernardi chapter in carwash history ended
in 71 after Lionel declared bankruptcy and Ron Bell
(boy, that guy does pop up a lot in this ongoing saga!)
bought all the Bernardi assets for his newly formed
company, Southern Pride. The most important part
of the acquisition turned
out to be the patent and
plans to the Bernardis
HydroSpray -- the rugged pressure automatic (originally designed and manufactured in northern Canada) that the Bernardis had great success with -- selling almost 3,000 units in less than 5 years.
Some major carwash suppliers got their start within the Bernardi Brothers organization as distributors.
One of the most notable was D&S, founded by Raul
DeLorenzi and Larry Sheiter in High Ridge, MO.
Among the companys claims to fame is its being
the first with solid state timers; the industrys leading
producer in sheer number of coin boxes and safes.
And thanks to selling through direct markets such
as Kleen-Rite and Sonnys, the D&S line of vacuums
has enjoyed a remarkably broad and deep penetration of the self serve marketplace.
Don Havens was another Bernardi distributor.
It was Havens who salvaged the HydroSpray
name. As stated earlier, Southern Pride did
buy control of the patent in the early
70s, updated the power pack, pumps
and electronics and reconfigured it as
The TurboWash. In 1984, however,
the original patent on the Bernardi HydroSpray expired. Suddenly
(and for all practical purposes) it was
public domain. Several other manufacturers were to produce version of
the machine. But it was Havens who
knew and loved the machine best.

He jumped in first, salvaged and reclaimed the name,


and became a leading producer of this born again industry classic.
Last, but in no way least of the Bernardi distributors,
was Jim Coleman, who in 1969 went independent
and started a company called (for lack of any better
name), the Jim Coleman Company in Houston, TX.
Coleman would hit his stride big time in the 80s and
became a major force in the rejuvenation of image of
self serve carwashing. In the 90s, Coleman was at the
forefront of a longtime dream of many -- cashless pay
at self serve carwashes and what we like to call taking
the coins out of coin-op.
But were getting way, way ahead of ourselves again.
At this juncture, it would be appropriate to head back
South to a city and region out of which came innumerable and awesome carwash achievements.
Boys and girls, buckle up. Were goin ta Kansas
City

Kansas City: Self Serves


Cradle
So where are we at this point? Lets see, lets see
Okay. Ardmore is where self serve carwashing was
conceived. Right? Dallas is where the industry was
born. And, taking this to the next logical stage, we
can say that Kansas City, MO, was the cradle -- the
place of nurturing development and growth. Some
who experienced those times might find fault with
that warm, fuzzy, cuddly metaphor, though.
By the mid 60s, Kansas City was a real hot bed
of competitive coin-op carwash manufacturers and
very aggressive entrepreneurs. Just a couple years
after that first wash was opened in Ardmore, the
Kansas City Yellow Pages phone book already had
two full pages of listings for more than 60 self serve
carwash suppliers! There were a couple of reasons
for that. Being located right in the center of the
country had something to do with it. More importantly, KC is where both Kwiki and ROBO just
happened to get their start. Both were incredibly
successful right out of the box and many other
soon rushed to the party.

Kwikis Quickies
The name of the game in the mid-60s was the
mostest, the fastest. The iron was hot and those
who wanted to make the big bucks knew they had
to strike NOW ...before too many others jumped
on board. Some carwash builder/suppliers were obsessed with tossing up as many stores as inexpensively and quickly as they could. One of the winners of
this race was Kwiki of Kansas City.
Don Garrison, who now owns Auto Wash Supply
in KC, was one of the original employees of Kwiski
which was founded by Ray Burchette in 1962. Don
helped build the very first Kwiki wash for Burchette
(also the first self serve carwash built in KC) which
was a concrete block building. Soon after, Burchette
hit upon a design that was a much, much faster way
to build a carwash than concrete masonry. Enter the
Kwiki A-Frame (more commonly referred to as teepees because the pointed roofs vaguely resembled
{continued }
JANUARY 2014

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the History of Self Serve Carwashing


the buffalo skin covered tents of the Plains Indians)
the ultimate in economical, quicky construction.
The walls and roof were one and the same. The
structure consisted of 20-foot corrugated metal panels bolted together at the peak through pre-drilled
holes and bolted onto a simple concrete, trench footing/foundation. A 2-3 man crew could build one of
these 4-bay washes and install equipment in about 4
days. Hundreds of these quicky Kwikis sprouted up
every year from the mid-60s to the early 70s when
the company pretty much (pardon another pun)
folded its tent.
The demise of Kwiki was a combination of raging
competition, a growing appreciation on the part of
investors for many substantive construction, and, of
course, local building codes that declared war on slap
dash metal buildings. Going to a design with curved,
arched panels in 1967 and giving them a classy, classical name -- Gothic Arch -- did little to sway those
sitting on city planning boards.
A Minneapolis company called Royal Carwashes
started soon after Kwiki and sold very similar (virtually indistinguishable) wash packages -- and sold a
lot of them. But Royal also faded from the scene by
about the same time for essentially the same reasons.
It should be noted that the high-peaked roof
design was there for more than just economy and
sloughing off snow load. Hose ran up from the side
wall to the peak where it was suspended by a spring
and chain and often dropped down through a tire
or inner tube collar. That eliminated the need for
booms and swivels, which were notoriously unreliable in the 60s.
Another bit of surprising trivia -- Kwiki was the pioneer of the countdown timer. Each bay had an impressive round clock (about 20 inches in diameter)
that began to count down from 5 minutes with the
sweep of a single hand when a quarter was deposited. These clocks were mounted high in the bay, but
proved to be such an irresistible target to boys with
rocks that they were soon discontinued.
Another name that should be mentioned in this
KC context is Wave A Wand, which was founded
by Keith Chastine a year or so after Kwiski began
to roll along. Chastine was one of those who caught
the wave at the right time and built thousands of
bays all around the country. One of Chastines claims
to fame was Wave A Wands being among the very
first to mount multiple pumps over a single, large
stock/soap tank rather than the individual, space
inefficient wash tube for each pump.
Given the clustered proximity of manufacturers
and suppliers in Kansas City, its no surprise that
there was such a vigorous free flow of ideas. In 66,
Kwiki also began to manufacture one of the earliest pressure automatics, the WhirlAway. Their idea
to drive to market that product was inspired by the
overnight and most extraordinary success of its Kansas City neighbor, ROBO, which has a chapter unto
itself in coin-op carwashing history.
There are a number of noteworthy names associated with KC. Two that are still with us include Tim
Kimseys Kim Mfg. and Marvin Wilhelms WindTrax

36

JANUARY 2014

-- two leading nationwide self serve suppliers, both


of which trace back to the 60s. There are, however,
at least two others of historic note who are, as they
say, history

Livingston
Ed Livingston had a thriving chemical and commercial laundry equipment business that he had established in the mid 50s in KC. He expanded into
coin-op carwashing in the 1968. Although this was
relatively late in this intensely competitive game,
Livingston made a mark -- or two or three or more
-- for itself:
Being well capitalized, having connections to the
coin-op laundry network, and owning a reputable
source for cleaning chemistry meant the company
was able to hit the ground running and it grew quickly. In less than 10 years it built/equipped 1,600 carwashes around the nation.
If theres one product that most carwash vets think
of when you say Livingston, it would have to be
their molded, fiberglass vacs. They were truly distinctive in appearance -- colorful, 2-toned units that
would not rust, dent or chip like the common painted metal vac. And they looked infinitely more stylish
than the bulky, rectangular, drab vac cabinets being
produced by manufacturers like Cook and Weben.
Livingston has had its share of notable graduates,
most notably Benny Ward, who went on to found
Ward Manufacturing, a highly regarded company
that supplied carwashes with more than hardware
and supplies. Ward was among the very first to sponsor conventions and learning seminars
for self-serve operators. Livingston
and other key personnel (such as
Jay Morgan) were also very active in the formation and support
of the National Carwash Council
(NCC) -- self serve carwashers first
and most devoted national association.
But, as stated above, what compelled Livingston to
jump on the self serve bandwagon was his observing
the skyrocketing success of his KC neighbor ROBO.
Livingston had the wherewithal to design and manufacture a pressure automatic in the late 60s, the RotoRail. It was fairly well received in the marketplace,
but not enough to sustain Livingston in an industry
that some were calling saturated and mature by
1978, when Livingston declared bankruptcy.
Neither the RotoRail nor any other pressure au-

tomatic for the next 20 years would ever approach


the pinnacle achieved by Kansas Citys most renown
success story

ROBO and the Early


Automatics
Did you know the ROBO Wash company had two principals, but only one
was a principal?
That is not some
sort of Zen riddle,
Grasshopper, but it
is enlightening. You
see, once upon a time
(1963) in Kansas City
there lived a high
school principal by the name of Jim Widner who
had a summer job of installing self serve carwash
equipment. He soon became obsessed with the idea
of automating the process. Rather than a customer
with one wand in hand washing his own car, why not
have the customer sit comfortably in the car while
a robot with two real long arms and, lets say, 16
wands, washed the car?!
With the help of a fellow teacher and his technically inclined brother, Widner had the first prototype
built in the spring of 1964. Ralph Hedges provided
financial backing and lots of great ideas. That year
witnessed the birth of the first universally successful pressure automatic - the one and only ROBO by
Robo-Wash.
The publics response to this form of carwashing was phenomenal; instantly and enthusiastically positive. Just as the next generation in the late
70s would be enamored of little R2D2 in Star
Wars, everybody was also a fan of this small, simple carwash robot back in the mid-60s. Whats
not to like? That ROBO
seemed to do everything
right -- or at least as right as
the technology and chemistry
would allow back then.
Buck Stanton probably understood this phenomenon better
than anyone. Hes highly regarded within this industry -- a
charter NCC board member and ICA President in
1986 -- hes also known as Mr. ROBO to many. In
1966, he saw his first ROBO in Richmond, VA, and
{continued }

JANUARY 2014

37

the History of Self Serve Carwashing

it was pretty much love at first sight. A couple of


months later, he signed on the dotted line to buy/
build 16 of the 2-bay ROBOs in 12 cities in the
Virginia-Maryland area.
Buck does give the robot concept a lot of credit.
The public connected to it and personified it to some
extent. The ROBO just had some special quality that
set it apart from any other coin-op device. Plus, the
process and value were so straightforward:
The customer would deposit 50-cents in the meter outside the bay. As he drove in, the undercarriage
would get flushed. Then, when the vehicle was in
position, the gleaming stainless steel, squat ROBO
would start scooting around the car driven by a
HP motor following a track in the floor. First there
were two 30-second passes with hot, soapy water
applied at 600 psi. That was followed by two 30-second passes of cold rinse. Wham, bam -- all done! A
pretty darn decent wash within just 2 short minutes
for only a half a buck! (In the late 60s, for another
quarter a sprayed Jet Wax became available.)
It was not all that unusual, Stanton says, to put
600-700 vehicles through one location on a good
day. Yes, the public loved the concept -- and so did
investors. It only required getting the word out along
the coin-op laundry network, placing one ad in Time
magazine and another in Inc. The ROBO sold itself.
In about seven years, several thousand 2-bay ROBO
locations were built around the country. By 1966,
the company had racked up over $4 million in sales
and these revenues had tripled by 1970!
Those sales were enhanced by an exemplary, complete package Ralph Hedges had designed that ROBOs 30 distributors around the country had no trouble selling. The company had a week-long school
for new owners at which they were taught how to
maintain and repair equipment, cleaning chemistry
and marketing. The installation and maintenance
manuals were excellent, as was service after the sale
from technical assistance to help in advertising. This
all fostered great loyalty and enthusiasm among both
distributors and owners.

38

JANUARY 2014

Operational costs were most reasonable -- only


about 20 percent. The 3-cylinder Meyers pumps
dispensed about 60 gallons of water during the
one-minute wash and one-minute rinse. The water,
electrical and heat expense was around 5-cents per
car and the soap added another nickel. Owner cost
-- just one thin dime per car.
The cleaning chemistry was a two-part formula, sold as proprietary product to ROBO owners.
Hedges and Widner owned Keystone Chemical,
the manufacturer of the chemicals in KC. But
were told by Barton Lockhart that he originated
the technique of keeping the alkaline powdered
soap solution (8 pounds per 50 gallons water) stable and separate from the liquid surfactant/water
solution until mixed during the high pressure Wash
passes during which a gallon of the combined
solution was sprayed on. It was Lockhart who was
the chemical engineer (who just happened to live
in Ardmore, OK, next door to Jack Thompsons
partner Travis Harris) who mixed up the very first
carwash specific soap formulas for ALD/Cook.
Lockhart then went on to found Blendco and refine
what is now called the Super Sat system which had
a primitive precursor in the old ROBO.
As mentioned before, ROBO
was blessed with brilliant innovators who were the first
to do so many things so very
right. Some other important
firsts include the introduction
of ROBO Rinse -- a de-ionized spot-free rinse developed
in the late 60s for washes in
Florida that had horrendously
high calcium/TDS in the water supply. The ROBO SFR
was better than no SFR at all,
but this earliest of applications
was, shall we say, a bit spotty
and not used widely.
An innovation not warm-

ly remembered by many carwash owners was the


chain of Denver gas stations that installed ROBOs
in the late 60s and started the dreaded FREE Wash
With Fill-Up. That gas marketing strategy would
come to sweep the country (mostly in the form of
friction rollovers) and plague professional carwashers for decades.
Another frist was a very consistent presentation,
delivery and cost of services. All ROBOs were 2-bay
installations that were easily identified (and remembered) for their signage, logo and building design
ringed on top with a mansard with a red and white
diamond motif. Back in teh mid 60s, ROBO, quite
literally, could have given a lesson or two to that up
n coming cheapo hamburger franchise you may
have heard of -- McDonalds.
But by 1967, ROBO was bankrupt.
What the heck happened?! Some who should
know say ROBO was a victim of its own success. By
72 the company was starting to sell friction, short
tunnel Hanna conveyors (with the ROBO label)
to gas stations. A couple years earlier, Hedges and
Widner had taken the company public, creating
1,000,000 shares of stock with 800,000 available
for purchase and retaining 200,000 shares. The
IPO was at $10 per share. It seemed like everybody
wanted a piece of ROBO and the price shot up almost overnight to $38 per share! All that money
was poured into a diverse portfolio of investments
-- food marketing, real estate, chemicals and others
-- at a time just before the economy was to sour bad
and big time.
The mid-70s would see the energy crisis, staggering inflation and worldwide economic turmoil. All
that combined with the fact that you couldnt really
clean a car with this sort of frictionless technology.
By the early 70s, however, those new wraparound
brushes were coming on strong and they could scrub
away that stubborn road film. Consequently that
lovable little robot finally went belly up.

Automatically On Board
Given ROBOs initial and very highly profiled success plus the fact that many entrepreneurial minds
really do think along the same lines -- there was a
major push by coin-op carwash manufacturers to

the History of Self Serve Carwashing


automate self serve wand washing. Throughout the
60s and early 70s, companies such as Cook, Weben,
Kwiki, Kwik, Livingston, Bernardi, Magic Wand and
a number of other smaller players attempted to
sell the public on coin-op pressure washing. After a
while the public decided it just did not want to buy.
Over time, the residual road film and water spotting
problems offset the early affection most customers
had for the pioneering pressure automatics.
The concept would return much reinvigorated.
It would take the passing of the 70s and the advancements in chemistry; new powerful, high volume pumps; refined spot free rinse systems; and, of
course, the publics growing dissatisfaction and distrust of automated friction washing to make coin-op
pressure washing viable.
But were not there yet in terms of the chronology of this story, that is. Before plunging into the 70s,
lets wrap up the 60s

Closing Out
The 60s

We cannot let our sampling of the history of the


60s slip by without mentioning several other milestone factors

Triplex Pumps
Ask ten old-timers what they consider to be the one
most important development in self serve carwashing
in the 60s and 9.5 of them will say triplex pumps!
For most of the first decade virtually every item
used in our industry was scavenged, forced to fit and
adapted from some other industry -- hose, swivels
and fittings, soap, coin boxes, and, of course, those
pumps. The first of which were agricultural pumps
designed primarily for spraying insecticides. Those
Hypro 5000 series, by the way, are still being used
today in that capacity.
Were told that in 1966, L&A (later to be
known as Landa) was the first company to discover and import triplex pumps manufactured
by Mariyama. There
was some nationalistic resistance
to buying from
the Japanese. World
War II was still too painful
and vivid a memory for many
Americans. But, as we heard even the
most jingoistic operator grudgingly come to
admit -- those Japs make some damn good pumps!
By the late 60s and early 70s the word had gotten
around about the new Cat Pumps. They were reliable, low maintenance, quiet, smooth, low pulsation
and long lasting. That Cat name was so much less
in the face of the Buy American contingent than
Mariyama, plus it said 9 lives worth of working
life loud and clear. So within a few years the Cat
400 series pumps were virtually an industry stan-

dard and adopted as our pumps. WWII was put


behind us as self serve owners put those pumps on
the front lines of their battle to keep carwashes on
line. Other manufacturers - Gail, MagiKist, Giant
-- soon followed suit, and the industry enjoyed the
benefit of choice from several competing triplex
pumps manufacturers.
An interesting ironic twist and footnote to this
international note of the 60s: Weben sold three
self carwashes to the Japanese back in 1965. There
was never another order. Most assumed the washes
were just copied when they got to Japan and then
manufactured there. The truth is that the Japanese
government was (and still is) extremely protective
of jobs. Self serve carwashes were seen as a potential
threat to a full national employment. Consequently
the Japanese created a law specifically forbidding
coin-ops. So -- as Paul Harvey might say -- ...and
now you (and Weben) know the rest of the story.

Gas n Wash...Again
As we headed into the 70s, the trend to install rollovers in gas stations was in evidence almost everywhere. After some flirting with pressure automatics, the oil companies rushed to install wraparound
brushes. It really wasnt all that much of a stretch or
unnatural intrusion. You have to remember that for
several decades the neighborhood gas/service station
was the most popular place (next to the driveway)
to get the car washed.
What was seen as unnatural and dangerous
was the marketing strategy first unleashed by the
oil companies in the 60s -- the freebee rollover
wash with the purchase of 10 gallons of gas. That
growing trend was definitely one of the factors that
motivated professional carwash owners to come together and form an association. It was more than
just an us against them thing. It was also a function of other interests those first coin-op carwashers
shared. Namely, coin-op laundries,
which gave rise to the first

Coin-Op
Associations
By the end of the 60s, self service carwashing had become a
force to be reckoned with..and
properly represented.
As we noted, most of the first
coin-op carwash owners were
coin-op laundry owners. In the
50s that laundry industry had in place
a well-organized, established association -- the
National Automatic Laundry & Cleaning Council. By the mid 60s, the NALCC was representing
an industry of about 30,000 locations and hosting
conventions that would draw more than 5,000 coin
laundry people -- a substantial and ever increasing
number of which were also carwash owners. These
laundry conventions had the countrys leading carwash manufacturers exhibiting -- Cook and Weben,
and of course, but also non-laundry companies such

as National Pride, Kwiki, Malasbury, Eewing, Magic


Bay and others.
By 1967, there was a new association that the leading carwash manufacturers had spun off from the
NALCC. The new acronym on the block was NCCC
-- the National Coin Carwash Council. The president/
founder of the NCCC was Robo-Washs president/
founder Ralph Hedges. This was the first, last, and
only sustained national association that represented
the interests of the self serve carwash industry.
The reason for the spin off was two-fold: First, the
coin carwash manufacturers demanded a coin carwash association. Secondly, it was a matter of numbers. The coin laundry industry had matured and
growth was leveling in the 60s. The exciting growth
-- the future -- was in carwashing. The numbers were
staggering. The best estimates of the NCCCs supply siders put the number of self service carwashes
at 5,000 in 1965. Within just two years that number
had doubled -- a total of 10,000 by 1967! And it appeared that growth rate would be sustained resulting
in reasonable, credible projections of 30,000 self
serves by the mid 70s.
Coin-op carwashing had arrived. It had its very
own national association and yearly trade show
convention. The thing was, the NCCC was essentially a manufacturer-founded and controlled
association. There was another carwash trade association at that time -- the Automatic CarWash
Association, which was operator-controlled.
ACWAs members, whoever, were exclusively
rack/tunnel owners who quite literally detested
and feared all the upstart coin-ops -- the owners
of which were forbidden from joining ACWA!
The next decade would see the national trade
associations shifting gears, jockeying for positions
and modifying those respective positions: ACWA
would change some letters in its name -- dropping
Automatic and becoming the more inclusive International Carwash Association (ICA). The NCCC
would cut itself loose from the NALCC to offer specialized services and host independent trade shows.
No more struggling with two shows under one roof
controlled by the Automatic Laundry organization.
Prior to 1970, NCCC dropped one of its Cs and
became the NCC. Deleting Coin from the name
was emblematic of a more inclusive National Carwash Council that was to be much more accepting
-- desirous -- of the oil companies burgeoning gas n
wash tie-in segment of the business.
And then about the same time in the mid 70s -as those two polarized associations began to show
serious signs of overlap and common interest -- self
If you would like to offer a correction to this text
or contribute information, facts or anecdotes to consider for future segments of The History of Self Serve
Carwashing, please e-mail Editor Kate Carr at
katec@sscwn.com.
SSCWN extends its sincere gratitude to Our Doc
Brown, JJ Jakubowski, for all of his hard work in
not only writing the original story, but also for bringing this story back to life, including digging through
stacks of archives for the original photographs.

JANUARY 2014

39

NRCC Show
Report
Well, this born-and-raised Northern New Yorker couldnt have picked a more perfect show
to celebrate her return to the carwash industry.
The Northeastern Regional Carwash Conference
(held October 7-9 in Atlantic City) was literally
bigger and better than ever before. With over 260
booths, the 2013 NRCC was the largest in the
shows 24 year history. And while sometimes a
large floor space can skew perception of attendance, the steady stream of foot traffic throughout the two-day show was proof of the NRCCs
boasted 1,500+ count.
The last expo I attended before my maternity
hiatus was the 2010 Western Carwash Association Show. Back then, conversations still revolved
around the struggling economy, gas prices and
even the well-established operators complained
about sagging volumes. Exhibitors still had way
too many booth personnel walking around with
hands in pockets and too much iron on display
for shows that just didnt produce the numbers
they had in the early aughts. The cliche you heard
at every booth back then: Attendance is down,
but thats good: Its weeding out the tire kickers.
Not so anymore. The tire kickers AND the buyers were out in full effect. (Lets be honest: More
is more when it comes to attendance.) It was such
a relief to find myself at a growing show where
exhibitors had finally made the adjustments necessary to make these regional expos a good investment; i.e. less iron, less personnel. Conversations with attendees were still not like the ones
you might remember from 2005 and 2006 (how

40

JANUARY 2014

could they be?); but at least we were complaining


about the weather again. Back in 2008 I learned
if a carwash operator isnt complaining about the
rain, something is wrong.
The best part about these regional shows is
they always give such a good indication as to the
health of the industry. Thats because weeding
out the New Investor crowd that generally flocks
to the ICA Show gives you a much better opportunity to check the actual pulse of our business.
The conversations at the booth are always more
informed, more specific, and I get the chance to
observe operators who have grown up together,
so to speak. Regional shows are so much more
candid, and it lends itself from the show floor all
the way to the educational seminars.
Speaking of educational seminars, the NRCC
did an excellent job of recruiting for their panels
and facilitating lively, productive sessions. There
were two panel-led discussions on Tuesday and
a roundtable breakfast set-up on Wednesday.
Thats right -- DISCUSSIONS! No Power Points,
no exhibitor-sponsored presenters. Just a bunch
of veteran operators going over creative problem
solutions and sharing best practices, seasoned
with lots of audience participation. My favorite!
Tuesdays early bird session drew about 150 attendees and featured a four-person panel led by Bob
Katseff. Walt Hartl of Hoffman Car Wash in Albany, NY, joined Terrence Elder, Donato dePinto, and
Steve Petruzello to discuss a wide variety of topics
that were guided by audience participation. The
panel hit on several important subjects, including:

The 2013 NRCC, October 7-9, at the Trump Taj


Mahal in Atlantic City, boasted its largest show
floor to date with 262 booths and more than
1500 attendees to make it the largest regional
show in the country. The 2014 show is slated for
September 15-17 and is to be hosted by the New
York State Car Wash Association.

Price. Are you competing on price in your market? Are you using an a la carte menu? When was
the last time you raised your price? Hartl shared
Hoffmans experience with adding a fourth package ($3 over previous top menu item) at their
IBAs with no promotions and it represented 27%
of sales (settling at 20% currently). Thats food
for thought!
Employees. What motivates greeters? Do
you offer incentives for top package sales? How
do you keep them your workers off their phones?
About 20-25% had a written no cell phone policy, although most operators agreed it was the easiest way to handle cell phone discipline.
Viability of oil change business. Hoffmans last
Jiffy Lube was built in 2004, and Hartl shared
the company wouldnt build one now. He did add
that his Jiffy locations do much better than standalone locations because of the carwash, though.
Social media. How much time do you spend
on social media? Hoffmans is getting away from
coupons and moving towards email, social media,
and text campaigns. According to Hartl, its much
{continued }

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NRCC did an EXCELLENT JOB


of recruiting for their panels
and facilitating LIVELY,
PRODUCTIVE sessions.

NRCC Co-Chair Doug Rieck presented Dick Zodikoff, one


of the NRCC founding fathers, a Hall of Fame award.

NRCC Restore the Shore:


Representatives from
Hometown Heroes/Restore
the Shore were presented
with a check for $15,573.10
by 2013 NRCC co-chairs
Al Villani (second from
left) and Doug Rieck (far
right) at the shows Opening Night Reception &
Awards at the Hard Rock
cafe, October 8.

CWONJ President Al Villani presented NRCC board member and MCA


President Dave DuGoff with the 2013 NRCC Most Distinguished Person
award for his tireless efforts on behalf of the NRCC.

easier to offer rainy day coupon codes through


those channels. Adam from carwashgifts.com encouraged session attendees to check his website
for more information about their promotional
program.
Dryers. Do you use swing dryers or stationary
dryers? Whats the length of your drip area? With
developments in drying agents and paint finishes,
is flash dry the way to go? No beading up or
dwell time, according to panel presenter, and it
keeps water moving. Panel encouraged operators
to experiment with drying agents.
Volumetrics. How often are you punching
the numbers? Once a month? Weekly? What is
your cost per car? Session presenters were surprised by the amount of operators who dont
know their cost per car. How can you make any
changes to your business without knowing the
numbers?
Coupons. Is it time to stop couponing? Some

42

JANUARY 2014

audience members reported that ticket averages


increased after they gave up on couponing and
focus on value added services.
The early bird session was followed by a 9:15
a.m. discussion of the Pros and Cons of the Unlimited Wash Club. Mark Kubarek represented the con side of this discussion, while Tom
Hoffman, Jr. and Dennis O Shaughnassey raised
the pro argument. A showing of hands determined that a little over 50 percent of the 120+
attendees already had an Unlimited program. Although UWC applies almost exclusively to conveyor operations, we thought wed round-up the
key points of the discussion to keep IBA and self
serve operators in the know:
UWC takes a long time to grow. Plateaus in
summer, grows in winter. Customers are afraid of
ID theft, so it is sometimes helpful to maintain a
ticket book or other loyalty program. For Hoffman
{continued }

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JANUARY 2014

43

44

JANUARY 2014

NRCC
Show
Report
... CONTINUED ...
80% volume is now UWC or ticket wash. Customers average 3-5 washes a month with UWC.
(More specifically, the number is 3 for full serve
and 5 for their express exterior locations.)
Dennis found that UWC balanced out his
year -- flattened seasonal dips and weather worries. Volume up 50% with UWC after four years.
Record years for his 40-year old business. Car
counts fluctuated. Hasnt raised price since starting program. Bottom line has never been better.
His customers average 5 visits a month, but to
operators who worried that was too often, he responded, Who cares about the average? Whats
your bottom line -- thats what matters.
Mark confessed that although he is against
UWC, he has considered it. His decision hinges on revenue per car going down and expenses
going up. Id rather do lower volume at higher
revenue, he reasoned. He also explained that he
thinks the comparison to a monthly gym membership is a stretch, preferring to think of carwashes as more similar to restaurants -- which
dont do monthly programs. He also confessed
he is in a small market and doesnt want to lose
his coupon book program. He believes customers
will think he had been overcharging them and be
angry if he offered a UWC.
More pro arguments from Hoffman: There
is increased curb appeal if business looks busier,
as it does with UWC. Its also the best word of
mouth advertising because your customers become very loyal raving fans.
Discussed a southern L.A. location, H2Go,
which set its UWC price at $9.99 for a 50-foot
tunnel. The location does about 20,000/month,
according to the panel.
Expenses will go up with UWC and you
will need to adjust your maintenance schedule.
There is a significant investment cost of POS/
computer system.
These two morning sessions were followed by
an inspiring keynote by legendary basketball coach
Bob Hurley, Sr. who coaches at St. Anthony High
School in Jersey City, NJ. (Do yourself a favor -Google him and find the 60 Minutes special on
YouTube for a healthy dose of motivation today.)
Coach Hurleys message was very significant to
our attendees and right in line with our theme,
said Al Villani, president of Car Wash Operators
of New Jersey, this years NRCC host association.
He demonstrated to us that you can absolutely
overcome adversity with the right attitude and a
lot of hard work. He was exceptional. Most im-

Unfortunately, I was glued behind the SSCWN table for most of the show hours in order to get the word
out about our publication. What I did find on the show floor, youll see in the pages of Innovations. And
were planning BIG, BIG, BIG coverage for the ICA Show this year. Stay tuned!

portantly, I think Coach Hurleys message was really about doing what you love. He joked several
times that his lack of ambition had kept him at
the high school level despite being offered plenty
of opportunities to advance to college basketball
or beyond, but you cant argue with success that is
paired with passion and enthusiasm.
Wednesdays Early Bird Roundtable discussions were similarly well-done. There were a dozen or so small, intimate tables organized by topic
(Self-serve, Social Media, IBA, Loyalty Programs,
etc.) Each table of 10-12 was led by a veteran
operator. I sat at the self serve table and enjoyed
a free-wheeling conversation casually moderated
by Dave Dugoff, this years Most Distinguished
Person Awardee. A sample of what was discussed
at our table included wall materials (frp, water-based epoxy, octaform) and ideas for tracking
bay use and the potential for such data to be used
in your business. I really enjoyed this format, and
I heard several other operators remark on it as we

left. We were able to get into nitty gritty details


and follow the interests of a select few, versus a
larger, less-organized roundtable discussion.
Finally, one last highlight of this years NRCC
was the Opening Night Event held at the Hard
Rock Caf within Trump Taj Mahal and sponsored by Innovative Control Systems. It was a
terrific party that included a silent auction which
raised more than $15,000 for Restore the Shore,
an effort that helps victims of Hurricane Sandy
and the recent boardwalk fire in Seaside Park, NJ.
Raffle and silent auction participants included
Air Care Hero, Blendco Systems, Jobe Industries,
MEI-MEI, National Ticket Company, Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine, Simoniz
USA, Trump Taj Mahal and ZEP Vehicle Care.
The 2014 NRCC is slated for September 15-17
at the Trump Taj Mahal and will feature keynote
speaker Robert H. Bob Benmosche, President
and CEO of AIG.

JANUARY 2014

45

HAPPENINGS IN & AROUND SELF SERVE CARWASHING

INDUSTRY NEWS

We know for many of you SSCWN was THE source for any
and all carwash news. If it wasnt in print on these pages, it
wasnt worth knowing about. Hopefully you found a way to
stay informed in the few years that SSCWN was out of print,
but just in case you missed out, here are a few of the most
important and interesting stories of 2013:
National Pride
Equipment,
based in Ashland, OH, acquired the assets of Internet
and catolog carwash parts distributor Car Wash Superstore. Around
the same time, National Pride also
opened its newest distribution facility in Memphis.
Utilizing two distribution points
will strengthen the companys distribution network
and offer quicker delivery times to our customers,
said NPE Owner and General Manager Trent Walter.

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JANUARY 2014

Landons Carwash is not


affiliated with Mark VII
Equipment. Inc. Mark VII is
a registered trademark of
Mark VII Equipment, Inc.

The acquisition, which was finalized on


August 1, 2013, did not affect the Car Wash
Superstore phone number or website or
homebase.
Plans are for Car Wash Superstore, which
is based in Byhalia, MS, to work in step
with National Prides warehouse in Ashland
and provide the best logistical solutions for
product delivery.
We were looking to expand National
Pride domestically when this opportunity
arose. The ability to acquire such an established brand fit perfectly into our long-term
strategic vision, Walter stated in a press release. From the first day I walked into the
Car Wash Superstore, I could feel the energy
from the staff. They have been an integral
part in making this a smooth transition. I am
thrilled to announce that Car Wash Superstore is
OPEN for business!

Three of the carwash


industrys most wellknown brands
are now together under the same management
after Ed OHanrahan of Galloway Chemical Division acquired Jim Coleman Company/Hanna,
according to a press release.
The companies are now under the leadership
of OHanrahan and Russell Coleman. The new
company, Coleman Hanna Carwash Systems

Ryko Solutions, Inc.

LLC, combines the Jim Coleman Companys


knowledge of manufacturing equipment with
OHanrahans knowledge of producing wash
solutions, according to the issued press release.
With a combined 150 years of collective experience, the new company plans to continue
development of innovative products for
carwash investors.
The company will also benefit from
an extensive domestic and international distribution network providing operators access to a large and diverse team
of professionals. This team will provide
knowledge to all carwash segments to
help businesses grow.

had a busy year. First, the company announced it had one of its best annual performances in 40 years of business. No doubt
much of the success is owed to the involvement of parent company Trivest, which acquired the company in late 2010 and has
spent the last few years reorganizing its
management team and pumping money
into its R&D and technical fleets.
A press release issued in January 2012
stated the company increased equipment
sales by 38 percent and EBITDA by 53
percent from 2011 to 2012. In addition to
its financial achievements, the Grimes, IAbased company also tripled the size of its
engineering team and invested more than
$1 million in its 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility that year.
Only a few short months later, the company
acquired well-known tunnel manufacturer MacNeil Wash Systems, Ltd. of Barrie, Ontario,
Canada.
In addition to the merger, Ryko
also announced several key personnel hires: David Wingert, a
carwash industry veteran with
experience at PDQ Manufacturing and Lustra, joined the
company as the new senior vice
{continued }

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JANUARY 2014

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48

JANUARY 2014

JANUARY 2014

49

HAPPENINGS IN & AROUND SELF SERVE CARWASHING

INDUSTRY NEWS
president of sales and marketing. Jesse Wurth came on as the
companys new Chief Financial Officer, and MacNeil Wash
Systems named John Sorenson
as its Central Regional Sales
Manager.

acumen is a valuable asset to Hamilton, and we


believe he will do a tremendous job leading this
company into the future.

Zep Inc.s
Jesse Wurth

Steven J. Alt has been named president


of Hamilton Manufacturing Corp., a press release
reported. Alt previously served as the companys
executive vice president. Robin Ritz is still
Chief Executive Officer of Hamilton, which
manufactures automated payment systems, data
access networks and change machines.
Ritz stated in the press release, Steve has earned
this opportunity through his many years of hard
work and dedication to the company. His business

purchase of Ecolabs Vehicle Care division was


finalized in December 2012 for approximately
$120 million, according to a press release.
The Dec. 3 release stated that the combination
of the two companies would create Zep Vehicle
Care, and it would represent approximately 13
percent of Zeps net sales on a pro forma basis.
The Zep Vehicle Care portfolio of brands comprised of Blue Coral, Black Magic, Rain-X,
Zep Enviroedge, Niagara National, Washtronics and Armor All Professional includes
soaps, polishes, sealants and protectants, detail
products, wheel and tire treatments, air

fresheners and related equipment.


Zep Vehicle Care will offer its products and services through a team of service and support professionals to provide car, truck and fleet wash operators with high efficacy products for their wash
tunnels and retail operations.

A bill that requires new


car wash facilities
in California to use at least 60% recycled water was
signed into law and is now in effect. Assembly tBill
2230 requires car wash facilities permitted and
constructed after Jan. 1, 2014 to include a water
recycling system. An amended version of the bill
passed the Senate on Aug. 20 and the Assembly
two days later.

Also of Interest
Sarah Frank, general

manager of Rain
Tunnel Express Car Wash, has found a way to reuse and turn a (small) profit off her used 30- and
55-gallon soap barrels from Kaady Chemical Corps.
According to a story printed in Franks local newspaper, she sells the 30-gallon barrels (which formerly contained water soluble, acid-free and non-corrosive carwash cleaners) for $5 and the 55-gallon
containers for $7 after theyve been rinsed out.
The newspaper reported a cemetery owner spray
painted a few barrels and placed them around his
property for trash cans. It also suggested readers
could use the barrels as composting bins.
On a more creative note, a friend of Franks used
the barrels to transform a broken trampoline into
a floating one. And not long ago a man strapped a
few barrels under his boat and entered it in a creative boating contest.

Grist.org,

an environmental news
and commentary blog, recently wrote
a wonderful piece explaining (in great
detail) just what exactly is so wrong
with charity parking lot carwashes and
also expounding on the environmental
benefits of professional carwashes -- and
SELF SERVE washes in particular!
As any professional carwasher
worth his washed-off-winter-time
salt knows, the two biggest transgressions of any parking lot carwash

50

JANUARY 2014

are
extremely
wasteful water use
(about 100-140 gallons
per car) and runoff water which pollutes local waterways. In comparison,
self-serve washes use just 12 gallons
of water and send their water to the
treatment plant, as the blog so wonderfully and correctly pointed out.

Of similar interest to the


Grist.org report,
cities across America are finally cracking down on
parking lot washes -- although this has been met
with no small amount of whining, particularly

from folks who believe these


regulations are just another way for
Big Government to get their hands
in the til.
There was a particularly scathing editorial published on The
Washington Times website,
taking the government of
San Jose to task for shutting down a parking lot
carwash scheduled by local
cheerleaders because it was in violation of local
water-discharge laws. The editorial lumped this
action along with those by city representatives
in Bethesda, MD, who fined local parents $500
for their childrens unlicensed lemonade stand
and town officials in Coralville, IA, who sent the
police to force a 4-year-old to close up her lemonade stand because she didnt pay for a $400
business permit.
But while those lemonade stand reactions
show an obvious lack of common sense, the
impulse of San Jose officials seems to be
well-intentioned and in the common interest of the community, especially considering a study by the city of Federal Way, WA,
which found that residential carwashing led
to numerous pollutants being released each
year into the citys storm sewer system, including 190 gallons of gasoline, diesel and
motor oil; 400 pounds of phosphorus and nitrogen; and 60 pounds of ammonia.
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JANUARY 2014

51

HAPPENINGS IN & AROUND SELF SERVE CARWASHING

INDUSTRY NEWS
And in a Darwin at the
Carwash twist

If you happen to be
in Santa Monica,

on our environmental round-up, a church youth


group in New Zealand was forced to cancel
its charity carwash due to drought. The irony
of which wasnt lost on a local reporter, who
noted the group had posted signs advertising
the carwash next to the churchs Pray for
Rain sign.

CA, make sure you stop by the


Historical Museum there. For $5
admission (or free if youre a U.S.
Veteran or child under 12!) you can
check out the display of photographs
by George Tate Jr. and get a glimpse
into the carwash business of 1965 Los
Angeles, when a wash cost $1 and a
jet wax was 50 cents. Tate Jr.s work is
only now coming to light (and includes
a lot more fascinating subjects than just
carwashes -- like those iconic beauty
pageant shots from the 1960s!) thanks to
the work of his son.
Speaking of vintage carwash memorbilia, check out this matchbook featuring the
Wash-N-Gas in L.A. with its eye-catching
I-Beams in tasteful Palos Verdes Stone, as LA
Mag recently pointed out. The since-renamed
Silver Lake Car Wash will still scrub and buff
your ride, and if you roll in on
Wednesday or Thursday its only
$7.99.

Nebraska state
lawmakers are
considering
dropping a sales and usage tax for carwashing
and waxing which currently costs at least
one Omaha carwash hundreds of dollars
a month. Carwash owner Pat Shannon
told a local newspaper this double tax
costs his business 14 cents per wash; he
is taxed up front for equipment, soaps
and cleaning supplies, and then again on
revenue after his customers make their
purchase.
Two dollars starts this car wash, so
were making our money two dollars at
a time. Weve got to wash an awful lot
of cars to really make any money at two
dollars, Shannon said.
Should the tax be dropped, Shannon
hopes to make upgrades and give some
savings to customers.
We can extend some [wash] times
and give them a little more time for
washing so they dont have to put in as
many quarters in at the end to finish.
State lawmakers have not voted yet on the tax. Nebraska is one of about eight states with a similar tax.

An automated carwash
with unique mitter
technology
is better for a vehicles paint job than hand washing,
according to extensive testing by the Paint
Research Association (PRA). The PRA report,
which was commissioned by European carwash
chain IMO, showed no measurable abrasion to the
vehicle in its carwash field studies.
Furthermore, the 15-month study on four Ford
Fiestas found the most damaging way to wash a
vehicle was by hand at a commercial wash, as this
method collected the highest scratch count. According to a story about the report, four drivers
maintained similar usage of the vehicles and used
three different wash techniques during the time

52

JANUARY 2014

An Arizona man
has invented

period: The IMO automated wash with unique


mitter technology, an automated wash with nylon
bristles, and a commercial hand wash. The fourth
vehicle was not washed in the 15 month time period as a test control saple. The cars were washed
27 times in the 15 month time period.
According to the report, the test concluded
that washing a car with mitters caused no more
deterioration in paint quality than normal day-today driving.

In case youre wondering


about the PRA
-- as were we -- youll be happy to learn the
Association has a seemingly legit and long history.
According to its website, PRA is a non-profit group
founded in 1926 as an independent association of
member companies to support innovation and
growth in the surface coatings sector.

an automatic carwash system


for use in the home garage.
AutoGreenWash comes with
a $29,500 price tag (and its
another $4,000 for installation).
The carwash uses a waterproof
enclosure that is lowered from
the garage ceiling and 48 computer-controlled
rotating sprayers to clean the vehicle. Think itll
catch on? The intentor certainly hopes so. He
told his local television station there is already a
waiting list several people long and compared his
invention to the dishwasher.
We want to be like the dishwasher, we want
to start out as the luxury device, then as the price
comes down over the years, we want it to become
a standard device that the average homeowner
will have, Retter said in the report.

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Grace

Vets
FOR

In 2013, over 1,000 carwash companies representing 2,450 carwash locations in four different
countries joined together to wash the vehicles of
nearly 50,000 veterans and active duty soldiers
for free on Veterans Day. This concentrated patriotic effort (which also recognizes Armistice Day
and Remembrance Day in Australia, New Zea-

land and Canada) is thanks to Grace For Vets, a


non-profit organization created by carwash operator Mike Mountz in 2004 to honor those who
have served or are currently serving their country
and carried on today by the hundreds of participating carwash operators.
Were you one of those participating washes?

Wed love to hear your story and see your photos


from the event! Please send to katec@sscwn.com.
You can learn more about the Grace for Vets
program (and get a complete listing of all participating washes) at www.graceforvets.org.

Here are just a few of those experiences, as shared by AutoCareForum users:

Paul Loves Jamie:


A few years ago my son commented that on Grace
For Vets day we needed help due to the number of
older (WW2 & Korean war) vets. He decided to get
help from his classmates - so for the last 3 years he organized having the HS National Honor Society spend
the day at our wash. He got permission from the
school board to have the 20 brightest kids in the high
school spend the day working for and chatting with
veterans, he checked our insurance, got teachers to
volunteer to shuttle the kids to/from school, etc etc...
I dont think I need to comment on how fantastic
this has been, but wow. Heck with the promotional benefits, the emotional and social impact on our
best and brightest was incredible. (Yes ok, me too.)
Weve had disabled vets cry and hug the kids.
Weve had WWII vets in their 90s in uniform saluting each other in the lot, talking for hours.
We had a 97 year old woman talking to the
young ladies about her WWII experience in Europe for over an hour.
We have a Korean vet bring his fully restored

WWII jeep for the kids to see - complete with all


accessories & trailer. (No, he wouldnt sell it to me!)
We have vets bringing photo albums, medals, etc.
Due to the cold and wind, this year was not a
real busy veterans day at our small rural wash, but a
great day never the less.
(You can read more about Pauls experiences and
how his son coordinates the involvement of his
NHS in an interview, below.)

tomhoffmanjr:
What a home run this can be for your company.
Being able to honor our Veterans with a free service
is the least we can do for the blessings we all enjoy.
This was our 8th year in a row and the first year
where we offered a free oil change at any of our 10
Jiffy Lube locations. Mobil Oil donated 90 cases of
Mobil One and we put whatever grade of oil in our
veterans cars that they requested.
We saw a ton of new customers and the response
was incredible. We averaged 240 oil changes per
store. We staffed up and didnt get bogged down in
other services to be able to satisfy as many as possi-

ble. They were wrapped around the building all day.


It is by far our favorite event of the year. The lingering good will is priceless. We get flooded with
thank you emails too. The car washes do great too.
We washed about 5,000 veterans between our 13
tunnel locations. I cant emphasize enough what a
great promotion this has become.

swampdonkey:
Here in north central Montana we got three
inches of snow and [it was] 15 degrees [outside].
I ran radio ads on three stations today about free
washes. Due to the weather, I put a sign out front
for snowcheck come into my office to get tokens.
I had vets all day telling me their service stories
and I enjoyed every minute of it.

ted mcmeekin:
My son got innovative on our reader board: Freedom is not free but a car wash for our veterans is.

Grace for Vets at the


Self Serve Wash
Many self serve operators Ive talked to over the
years are eager to participate in Grace for Vets,
but are hesitant to start the process because they
believe giving away free washes is not compatible with the self serve carwash model. SSCWN
tracked down a self serve operator who initially
shared those concerns, but through his sons involvement, found an amazing way to make Grace
for Vets work for his self serve wash *and* the local youth in his community.
Paul Noon is the owner of Kutztown Car Wash

in Kutztown, PA. The second part of the interview is with his son, Ryan, a student at Kutztown
Area High School.

How/when did you find out


about Grace for Vets?
PAUL NOON: We first found out about Grace for
Vets about 6 years or so ago, but we did not participate until 2010. We knew immediately that we
wanted to participate, but frankly we werent sure
{continued }
JANUARY 2014

55

GRACE FOR VETS


... CONTINUED ...
how this would work at a self service car wash.
How does one give a free car wash, but then tell
the veteran that he has to do it himself? It just
didnt seem practical.

What were the factors in your


decision to participate?
PAUL NOON: In spite of our concerns, we began
to participate in GFV in 2010 because we implicitly understand that this small thanks to our
Vets is simply the right thing to do. We hoped for
some minor marketing/PR benefits, but that was
secondary to us.
The first half dozen vets who arrived were all
over 75 years old our biggest concern turned
out to be very real. So while Jamie chatted with
the vets, our 2 sons and I scrambled to wash, dry,
and vacuum cars for as many veterans as we could,
and we supplied tokens for the rest. This was not
the ideal situation, and we questioned whether we
should participate again the following year.
Our 14 year old son Ryan (now 17) had a simple
solution, he asked: Um, dad, why dont I just get a
bunch of my friends to help? He discussed it with
friends and teachers at school, one thing led to another and it resulted in Ryan coordinating with the
local high school National Honor Society to have
20 or so of our communitys brightest kids spend
the day washing cars for veterans.
Without a doubt, having local high school students spend the day at our wash in service of veterans is what enables us to participate in Grace for
Vets successfully.

How do Ryan and your local high


school students help with Grace
for Vets?
PAUL NOON: Ryan coordinates public service
announcement advertising as well as a number
of administrative tasks such as obtaining permission for a day out of school from the school board,
scheduling and organizing transportation, informing volunteers about dress code, confirming insurance coverage, and being the contact point for any
questions and issues. He also acts as a leader on the
day of the event.
The 20 or so student volunteers role is to greet
and thank veterans, to vacuum wash and dry their
cars. We also encourage a lot of conversation.
Although he is leaving us for college next year, Ryan
is handing off his GFV responsibilities to another high
school student so that our participation can continue.
Grace for Vets is now firmly established as an annual
event for our car wash and the Kutztown Area High
School National Honor Society members!

What has been the response


from customers/community?
PAUL NOON: The response has been fantastic. I
expected it to be similar to other fund raisers, but I
hadnt really considered the emotional component

56

JANUARY 2014

of the response from veterans and their families.


In addition, having the students involved has generated a very positive response from both the veterans and the community.

same way I did initially; time out of school, with


the added bonus of doing something worthwhile for
our community. Many jumped at the opportunity and none of them regretted it.

How much work is involved in


putting on the event?

Did anything surprise you about


the reaction you had from vets,
customers, community before/
during/after the event?

PAUL NOON: Since we get so much help from


the NHS students, there is very little work involved for us at all this is definitely not a barrier
to participating.
Our role consists primarily of making sure that
all of the equipment runs smoothly, and managing
all the help on Veterans Day. Managing is focused
mainly on training for safety, quality washing, customer service/relations, etc.
Our NHS leader has a couple hours of pre-event
work to do, but since weve done it for a few years
now it is not difficult at all.
And the student volunteers they work hard
washing cars on Veterans Day!

Interview with
Ryan Noon

What was it that inspired you


to become more involved with
Grace for Vets?
RYAN NOON: Originally, I helped only because my
parents asked for help. It seemed like a nice thing to do.
However, that first year, I was amazed by how emotional some of the veterans were. What I had thought
was just a simple act of kindness meant so much more
to them; it was such a rewarding experience that I immediately knew that I wanted to do more.

What was your reason for


involving your classmates?
RYAN NOON: It was clear that my family could
not help all of the veterans that came on our own
especially with my brother leaving to go to college.
My first experience with GFV had been a positive
one, and involving my friends seemed like the perfect way to share this experience and get the extra
help that we needed.

What was the reaction


when you asked your
classmates to help out?
RYAN NOON: Most of my peers looked at it the

RYAN NOON: It was an eye-opening experience


for all of us, to observe the veterans that came. They
were all really friendly, and appreciated what we
were doing far more than we expected. Almost all of
the vets were excited to talk about their experiences; they were proud to show their veteran ID cards
when they arrived, and some even brought medals,
uniforms, and pictures from the time of their service. There were some who clearly preferred not to
talk; but a lack of words does not mean that they
didnt convey strong emotions and gratitude.

What do you think was the


biggest or most common
takeaway for you and your
classmates?
RYAN NOON: As I mentioned, the biggest takeaway was definitely the internal reward in seeing
how appreciative and emotional the veterans were;
we all learned that volunteer work can be just as
rewarding (if not more so) than a paid job.
That said, many of my friends took away another lesson: one in the art of washing cars. Having grown up around the carwash, it was never
something I thought about too much; the carwash
was (and still is) a part of my familys lifestyle.
Only recently have I come to fully comprehend
that none of my peers have this same experience.
Many didnt really know how to wash cars well.
Sure, there are instructions, and guidelines; but if
youre anything like me, the process (and following said instructions) is much easier when the concepts behind it are explained in detail. Between
myself and my dad, almost every student involved
walked away with a much better understanding of
the ideas of car washing, and more than one told
me that they learned a few things that they had
been doing wrong. While this simple lesson pales
in comparison to the reward in helping to serve
the members of our community that served us in
the past, it is still important.

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060513 FragramaticsAd_FreeVac.indd 1

6/10/13 9:42 AM
JANUARY 2014
57

IRS Secrets You

Should Know
By: Lance Wallach

The government needs money. Hopefully, after


you read this article, they will not get any more of
yours. The IRS has learned that small businesses
give them the best results on audits with the least
effort on their part. The IRS has decided to go
where they think the cheating is taking place. Unfortunately, they think that you and your small
business are not paying your fair share.
The IRS has increased audits of small businesses by
fifty (50) percent, so you need to learn how to better
protect yourself. Most of what is in the next three
paragraphs is what you should NOT do.
Have a lot of zeroes after the numbers on the return. Amend the return. Take a low salary while operating as an S corporation or as a sole proprietor.
Have unreported income, especially in cash. Live in
an expensive house, or otherwise in visible opulence,
while taking a low salary. That way, people can wonder how you can afford that house, car, etc.
Let me clarify the statement in the preceding paragraph about having a lot of zeroes after numbers on a
tax return. I do not mean high figures, since you must
report income truthfully, of course. What I mean is
that numbers that are too round lead IRS agents to
think estimate, and this leads to unnecessary attention and scrutiny.
Make sure that your retirement plan is never updated as the law changes. Hire independent contractors, illegals, etc. Make use of an abusive tax shelter
and/or listed transaction as a vehicle to reduce taxes.
Seriously, you may be surprised to learn that many
popular retirement and life insurance employee benefit plans fall into these categories.
If you are in a listed transaction, accountants now
must report your participation to the IRS or face
potential monetary fines and penalties in six figures,
up to $200,000. Accountants and other tax return
preparers also face increased penalties and scrutiny if
clients take questionable tax positions or deductions.
The upshot of all of this is that your activities, even
if you are unaware that they are questionable, are
increasingly likely to attract the Services attention,
making you a likely audit target.
Even now, there are still creative ways to reduce
taxes and, for good measure, insurance costs. You
might try renting a captive insurance company,
which often greatly reduces both taxes and insurance premiums. Use of a health savings account can
accomplish the same goals. Life insurance costs can
be reduced through the use of a technique known
as the insurance swapout process. Do you want to
obtain insurance without a cash outlay? Use non-recourse loans. And, you can turn your life insurance
into cash that you can use, without dying, by use of
a life settlement.
These are just some techniques that, by applying
just a few of them to your business, you could save
thousands or even more. Above all, and more on this

58

JANUARY 2014

later, it is most important to find an accountant who


acts as your tax protector instead of an IRS collection
agent. Most accountants seem to simply return your
tax return with instructions about how much to pay
and where to send it. Only if pressed will they even
be bothered to try to explain anything. You have to
do better than that.
Returning for the moment to possible money and
tax saving techniques, consider operating as a C corporation, which makes many otherwise non-deductible expenses deductible. Consider using a VEBA,
412(e)(3) plan or K plan to keep more of your own
money in your pocket. Health savings accounts, captive insurance companies and life insurance swapouts
can all reduce taxes and insurance costs.
There is probably not a business owner anywhere
who does not think he pays too much in taxes. Most,
in reality, actually do. Accountants have to play it
safe nowadays, which does not reduce your tax
bill. On typical returns, tax preparers work is often
subject to interpretations of the tax laws. Recent
law changes may force preparers hoping to lower a
clients tax bill to be less aggressive with respect to
these interpretations, or else they may risk substantially increased penalties. If a client insists on taking
an aggressive deduction, the preparer, hoping to
protect himself from sanctions, may include a form
explaining the circumstances. This may protect the
preparer while triggering an audit of the client.
This understandably angers taxpayers who feel
strongly about particular deductions. And these
penalties do not apply to taxpayers preparing their
own returns. But, of course, notwithstanding this, the
more complex a return is, the more foolhardy it is to
prepare it without professional assistance.
But the bottom line is that your accountant is reluctant to be aggressive anymore, and is less likely
to give you the benefit of the doubt on tax deductions. For example, if a client is participating in what
is known as a listed transaction, both the taxpayer
and the accountant must file with the IRS, alerting
the Service to the taxpayers participation. A simple failure to file, for whatever reason, can result
in a penalty of up to $200,000, as can incomplete,
inaccurate, and misleading filings. These penalties
apply to both the client and the accountant. All of
this filing, of course, may well trigger an audit. So
what does the prudent business owner do? He can
forget about the deduction, prepare his own return,
or he can retain an accountant who is not afraid to

fight with the IRS. Unfortunately, all of these options


are difficult. The Internal Revenue Code is complex, and very few accountants understand most of
it. And the IRS has recently made the accountant
into a policeman. Most accountants are honest and
knowledgeable, but are forced to be cautious. They
try to do what is best for their clients, but the IRS
has recently made that almost impossible. Also, every year, the tax laws are changed to one extent or
another, and accountants are constantly challenged
to remain current, knowledgeable, and proficient.
In light of all this, you may want to test your accountants knowledge. Consider asking him the following questions:
1. Why have I not been using a 412(e)(3) plan
or a captive insurance company to reduce my
taxes and other expenses?
2. Why have not I been using a VEBA to reduce
my health insurance costs?
3. Am I a good candidate for a K or double K to
reduce taxes presently and provide for a secure retirement?
4. What strategies are you familiar with whereby I
can legally deduct the cost of my life insurance?
5. Why have not you given me a copy of the IRS
industry specialization report (which can be
obtained free from the IRS) which shows the
items that the IRS will be looking at in my
business, both with respect to who will be audited and what will be looked at in an audit,
and will provide me with a lot of other useful
information?
6. Am I currently using any strategies that the
IRS considers abusive?
You may be disappointed, but you should not
be surprised, if you discover that your accountant
knows little or nothing with respect to the answers
to these questions.
The point is that, under no circumstances, should
you be forced to lie down and take the abuse and malpractice that most salespeople pin on you. Get your
financial and business affairs in order, and, if necessary,
take some action! Take some serious action!
The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any
other type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, abusive tax shelters, financial, international tax, and estate planning. He
writes about 412(i), 419, Section79, FBAR and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually,
writes for more than 50 publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial
talk shows including NBC, National Public Radios All Things Considered and others. Lance has written numerous books
including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams, published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Educations
CPAs Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as the AICPA best-selling books, including
Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. As an expert witness Lances
side has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit www.taxadvisorexpert.com.

Works
for
Vacuums
Too

JANUARY 2014

59

BRIGHT NEW IDEAS, PRODUCTS &


SERVICES FOR SELF SERVE CARWASHES

INNOVATIONS
From Rowe International

Double bill recycling!


The new Model 500-3 Bill Breaker from Rowe International (now the bill changer division of Megatouch LLC)
allows banknotes to be paid out in change, accomodating denominations of $20, $10, $5 and $1. The breaker
retains some of the lowest-value notes to recycle as
change when a higher denomination bill is inserted,
according to the company.
For example, a customer may insert a $5 and
receive five $1 bills. The machine then can recycle
that same $5 bill to another patron as change for
a $20 bill. Using the bill recycler in this way greatly
reduces or eliminates the need to reload $5 bills, saving
time and money, the company reported. By means of its bill

BIG DOG AIR


Exceed their expectation

$1.17 per SWIPENET


(or Set it Higher)
KEEP 100% of the REVENUE
DIRECT DEPOSIT to YOUR
ACCOUNT
Eliminates Theft Eliminates
Collection
Real-Time On-line Reporting
Credit / Debit / Cashless
WIRELESS simpleNO wires
Free Air Check Attracts
more customers
High-output-continuous-use
(HOCU) industrial compressor
90 psi Maximum tire
inflation Pressure
Installation Instructions: BOLT IT
DOWN & ADD ELECTRICITY

60

JANUARY 2014

Factory
Direct Prices

Factory
Direct Service

Were a phone
call away
Model: Big Dog Air w/e-Port $2,000
Big Dog Air w/coin only $1,850

www.fragramatics.com

Call Steve at

800-643-1574

BRIGHT NEW IDEAS, PRODUCTS &


SERVICES FOR SELF SERVE CARWASHES
cartridges, the Model
500-3 can pay back as
many as three different
denominations; the cartridges also can be employed to increase total
currency capacity to as
many as 1,600 notes for
dispensing in change.
An electronic user-feedback display enables
customers to see which
bill denomination is accepted by the machine,
and the amount to be
dispensed in change.
Rowe offers the new
changer in front- and
rear-load options; it is
the same size as the
companys widely used
BC1400 and BC1200
changers and uses an
MEI bill validator with

INNOVATIONS

note recycler.
Rowe also offers models that accept $50 and
$100 bills, keeping large bills securely locked up.
Other models can break large bills into smaller
bills as well as coins.

From Belanger, Inc.

Patent-pending features boost


touchless IBA performance
With several patent-pending features, the Kondor and Saber touchless automatics from Belanger, Inc. are designed to load cars faster, increase profits per car, attract more customers and
get em back for loyal and frequent visits that
boost revenues and profitability site-wide, according to the companys latest product release.
Belangers touchless models comes with available Active Site Marketing, a patent-pending
system that illuminates the wash arms and triple
foam wings (Kondor) or branding panels (Saber) with a cycling six color light show between
wash cycles. The light show can operate 24/7 to

promote your car wash and actively attract more


business from the street, thereby supporting your
efforts to increase your capture rate, wash volumes,
{continued }

JANUARY 2014

61

INNOVATIONS
revenues and profit position across your entire
site, the release said.
These two wash machines also boast a patent-pending LED Navigation System, which
flashes the illuminated wash arms GREEN to encourage customers to Pull Forward, BLUE for
Back Up, and RED so they Stop For Washing.
According to the company, this gets each car in
position faster, and gets the wash started sooner
increasing customer satisfaction and maximizing
throughput before the wash even starts.
The washes also offer a host of additional features to support more profitable menu offerings,
including drying (on-board and off-board), triple
foam, multiple waxes and in-bay specific tire shining solution.

From Blendco
Systems, LLC

BRIGHT NEW IDEAS, PRODUCTS &


SERVICES FOR SELF SERVE CARWASHES

Hot Wax is virtually impervious to HP rinsing and


loads of spot free water. Even with the wand millimeters from the paints surface, Red Rhino Hot
Wax holds up and resists removal, the release said.
The company said Red Rhino Hot Wax also features a fresh pia colada scent and good creamy,
foaming action that looks like what it is - waxy.
Red Rhino Hot Wax is available in 6 gallon and 30
gallon sizes and comes with a host of marketing
materials that educate customers about why it is
different and how it delivers softness, shine and
durability.

From Coleman Hanna Car


Wash Systems

Water Wizard FasTrak


features two arms, cuts wash
time in half

Red Rhino Hot Wax with


Carnauba - now for self-serve
carwashing!
Red Rhino Hot Wax with Carnauba, initially
developed for the tunnel market, is now available
to self serve carwash operations. The product was
a development miracle, according to its creator,
which explained the development process in a
product release. How can an online wax create
softness and durability that even comes close to
that of a hand wax? This seems impossible and,
at first, it was. Blendco chemists struggled with
finding ways to get softness and durability that
dwarfed anything that the market currently offered. Attempt after attempt failed until finally we
found a combination of products built off of a well
known and respected wax ingredient - Carnauba.
According to Blendco, once the technology was
developed and proven in the tunnel industry, it
was an easy jump to question whether its durability and softness could be leveraged in the self
service industry. Its application in SS washes has
been successful, Belndco said, because Red Rhino

62

JANUARY 2014

Coleman Hanna has taken its Water Wizard


touchless in-bay automatic and put it on a Fastrak. The manufacturer said the new Water
Wizard FasTrak features dual wash arms with
unique nozzles that operate together with a single
pump station, thereby reducing wash time and increasing revenues while maintaining wash quality
and creating an unobstructed entry to the open
and inviting bay.
According to product literature on the updated Water Wizard, the dual arm and single
pump design cuts wash time in half by enabling
both sides of the vehicle to receive all features
at the same time. Some multiple features can be
completed simultaneously in one pass, in turn
saving time and operating costs, the company
reported. The zero degree nozzle technology allows for overlapping coverage providing a high
quality wash in less bay space than before.
With less moving parts, there is simply less to
break down [which reduces] the cost of ownership, the product release said. The durable
foundation of the system creates withstanding
reliability. The carriage is light but strong which

helps cut down on maintenance and increase uptime while prolonging the life of the system.
Custom decals and signage is available for the
Water Wizard FasTrak. The standard sign
package comes with a Stop, Go, and Back Up sign
to clearly instruct the customer while entering
and exiting the bay. Additional signage is available including a Confirmation sign that notifies
the customer of which step the wash is on and
provides confirmation of the correctly selected
wash package.

From Airlift Doors, Inc.

Low-maintenance, high-speed
all-weather doors
XRS, Extreme Vinyl Roll Up Door, is the newest
line of low-maintenance, high-speed, all-weather
doors from Airlift Doors. According to the manufacturer, these doors are rated for up to 80 cycles
per hour so you can open and close after every
car. The XRS doors are constructed of corrosion
resistant materials to withstand the harshest environments and feature a breakaway design with an
automatic reset for safety.
According to a recent product release, another
key feature is the option for a pull cord emergency
open option that allows a customer to release the

motor in case of power failure to open the door.


Additional specs include:
Compete weather seal including the heavy
duty top rubber seal and dual side brush seals.
Adjustable speeds for up to 34 per second.
Individually replaceable components.
Simple, low maintenance design.
To compliment this fast and hardy door, Airlift Doors offers an electric operator option that is
{continued }

JANUARY 2014

63

REG

F.
. U . S . PAT. O F

ZIE

RDE

WA

R
E
T

Carwash
Boom
Assembly

MODEL 204 FEATURES


Feather light rotating action
Twin compression springs are tension-adjustable
for a variety of hose and gun weights
Swivel rotates 360 - 12 ft. diameter
Temperatures to 280 max., pressure to 2500 psi
Longer hose life as spring prevents kinks

MODEL 204

Ruggedly built, satisfaction guaranteed


Proven performance with over 50 years service in
the field (Since 1962)

Ziercos Easy Service Swivel and


Boom System with AUTO RETURN

ATTACHMENT

Model 204 Available with 3 Different Mountings


ETURN
AUTO R ed on
us
Can be 04 & 206
2
Models

Model 204 with


Auto Return Attachment

STYLE B
Flat Plate
Mounts directly to the
ceiling or beam

STYLE C
Swivel Base
Mounts directly to the
ceiling
Boom springs
back to
predetermined
location
Zierden's Automatic Return Assembly

FOR COMPLETE
INFORMATION
CALL

STYLE D
Wall Bracket
Mounts to wall and is
adjustable so boom
swings to wall when not
in use. Ideal for foaming
brushes.

CONVERSION KIT
204B

EASY 3 STEP PROCEDURE


TO CHANGE SEALS.
NO TOOLS REQUIRED.

(414)-764-6630
www.ziercowaterboy.com

7355 S. 1st Street


Oak Creek, WI 53154
Fax: (414) 764-9763
sales@zierden.com

To Convert Model 203


to a 204 Assembly

Remove boom body


from hinge plate

Rotate hinge plate


counter clockwise to
remove seal elbow

TM

JANUARY 2014

DISTRIBUTOR
INQUIRIES
INVITED
VISA and Master Card
accepted

QUALITY PRODUCTS SINCE 1937

64

Replace O-Rings

REG

F.
. U . S . PAT. O F

ZIE

RDE

WA

TE

Carwash
Boom Assembly
MODEL 203

Ziercos Original Swivel and


Boom Assembly, with
New Rebuildable
Cartridge

MODEL 203 FEATURES


Feather light rotating action
Twin compression springs are
tension-adjustable for a variety
of hose and gun weights
Swivel rotates 360 - 12 ft.
diameter

Temperatures to 280 max.,


pressure to 2500 psi
Longer hose life as spring
prevents kinks
Ruggedly built, satisfaction
guaranteed

Proven performance with over 50 years


service in the field (Since 1962)

OPTIONAL

107C CARTRIDGE

FOR COMPLETE
INFORMATION
CALL

107C Cartridge Features:

FAX: (414) 764-9763


www.ziercowaterboy.com

Double O-Ring Design Uses Any


Type of Grease

414-764-6630
7355 S. 1st. Street
Oak Creek, WI 53154

Field Repairable

100% 304 Stainless Steel Internal


Materials Eliminate Failure Due to
Corrosion

TM

VISA and Master Card accepted

QUALITY PRODUCTS SINCE 1937


DISTRIBUTOR INQUIRIES INVITED
JANUARY 2014

65

INNOVATIONS
built for high cyclage and has individually replaceable components, the release explained. The XRS
Plus motor is a 3 phase, 240 volt motor powered
by a 110 volt controller. It features built in limit
switches and is rated for up to 80 cycles per hour.
Its design does not require a cooling fan and is also
an inexpensive option for door openers.
Another option for the vinyl style doors is the
Powerglide pneumatic opener. This opener is designed with corrosion resistant components and
made to cycle after every car. The Powerglide
operator is belt driven and has a 3 year unconditional warranty.

BRIGHT NEW IDEAS, PRODUCTS &


SERVICES FOR SELF SERVE CARWASHES

Mars $1-$20 Bill Validator, Mars 7512i Coin


Changer;
Tokens, credit card, & WashCard options;
Full accounting numbers available bill box,
cash box, and changer tubes;
High security mode switch shows vendor status --- retrieve and clear errors, accounting data
or program prices without opening the door;
Large hopper with anti-theft delivery door;
Plug and play ready with starter kit;
Full 1-inch insulation with thermostatically

controlled electric fan for inside ventilation;


72-inches tall with a 36 X 36 footprint -- secured to a concrete pad or against a wall
Built-in door stop to hold door when servicing;
Titen concrete bolts and leveling legs included;
Product storage underneath bottom tray;
Weight725 pounds -- Electrical120VAC
0.4 Amp.

From Arimitsu Pumps

Quiet, durable plunger pumps

From ShurVend/
Big Eagle Enterprises

High-security merchandiser
According to product literature from ShurVend, the new Vendpro-IG4EE is a 32-selection
high-security merchandiser boasting the following features:
A full-sized high security vendor designed and
built to be a free standing and front-loading
unit;
Vendor door has two socket head bolt closures
with high security locks keyed alike;
Solid steel door secures the window and all
vendor openings during closed hours using
socket head bolts with high security locks
keyed to vendor door;
Acrylic/polycarbonate (3/8) security window;
Internet connectivity to sales/status of vendor
with a smartphone or tablet Using Iris Reader;
Lighted keypad, LED lighting, & graphics
package;
Save money and time with models 313 &
516 from Arimitsu Pumps; high quality, Japanese-made plunger pumps featuring a long life
and quiet, efficient design. Stainless steel valves,
precision ground ceramic plungers, forged brass
heads and oversized crankshaft bearings are all
standard features.
Available in low RPM pulley drive or higher speed,
direct drive RPM models. Flows from 3.7 gpm to 23
gpm and pressures from 1500 to 2300 psi. Standard
seals will handle temperatures to 175 F.
Whether you are refurbishing old or building
new learn why more are migrating away from
old & costly repair habits and enjoying long lasting quiet equipment, lower downtime, and lowest ownership costs when upgrading to Arimitsu
Pumps for their new or existing wash equipment!

Please send considerations for Innovations to: katec@sscwn.com. Final entries are included and edited/formatted
at the discretion of the publisher.

66

JANUARY 2014

SUPERSAT
SUPERSAT

Detergent
CCustom
USTOM D
ETERGENTSystems
SYSTEMS

Did you know?


SuperSat is one of
the leading detergent
brands in the carwash
industry today.
So why have THOUSANDS
of carwash operators
adopted SuperSat for their
wash?

Superior Cleaning Technology


Compact Packaging
Automatic Detergent Process
Youre in control
Famous Blendco Service and
Support
Peace of Mind

Make the SuperSat


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Amazing but true.

One Pearl Buck Court Bristol, PA 19007 800.446.2091 www.blendco.com

Scan here for more info.


JANUARY 2014

67

SSCWN on the Road:

GREEN CLEAN
AUTO
WASH
in Virginia Beach
SSCWN spies were out and about
on a sunny afternoon this past
December to shoot these images of
Green Clean Auto Washes in action.
At a later date, well manage to
capture co-owner Sean Everett for a
sit down interview to learn all about
his secrets to success, but for now
lets enjoy this tour in pictures!

Green Clean Auto Wash is a chain


of 14 self serve and IBA carwashes
throughout Southeastern Virginia.
With locations in Virginia Beach,
Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton,
Newport News and Chesapeake,
Green Clean has a wide variety
of site layouts, equipment and
market areas.

68

JANUARY 2014

A LEADING MANUFACTURER OF CONTROLS,


INCLUDING DIGITAL TIMERS FOR THE CAR WASH INDUSTRY.

CONTACT YOUR
DISTRIBUTOR

TODAY!

WWW.DIXMOR.COM
1-888-234-9667 FOR A DISTRIBUTOR IN YOUR AREA.
JANUARY 2014

69

SSCWN on the Road:

GREEN CLEAN
AUTO WASH
in Virginia Beach

... CONTINUED ...

This location on Independence Boulevard


features touch-free LaserWash and
Tandem RiteTouch, as well as several self
serve bays and vacuum stations.
The layouts vary from site to
site, but this location has vacuum
stations up-front. On this
particular day, a limo driver had
left his floor mats out to dry on
the concrete railings as a helpful
attendant kept duty for several
hours while the driver ran errands.
The Truck Wash at Green Cleans
North Military Highway location
stays busy even on slow days

Fail Proof Vacuums Invented!


Big Problem If one vacuum motor fails, the result is
almost a complete loss of suction. Customers will leave unhappy
and think your vacuum couldn't do the job.

Simple Solution Vacuum Check instantly seals off


failed vacuum motors. This ensures the customer receives a
vacuum with almost no loss of suction and leaves happy.
Vacuum Check installs in minutes simply lift motor and gasket
and drop into place!
Direct fit no vacuum modifications
Does not interfere with normal operation
Universal design fits any vacuum with 3 motor hole
Patent Pending

70

JANUARY 2014

Sold Through Distributors Nationwide


For more information or to locate a distributor,
please visit our website at www.vacuumcheck.com
Vacuum Check, LLC 1-800-424-7038

Green Cleans newest carwash


features a LaserWash M5 or
Tandem RiteTouch automatic.
Prices start at $6 in the
automatic lanes.
Instructions and photos
are neatly posted in all
self serve bays.

Attendants are on duty during select hours at


most Green Clean locations. SSCWN visited
these sites in Virginia Beach between the hours
of 2-4 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon. We were
greeted at each location by a friendly employee
who waved and said Hello as soon as we
stepped out of the vehicle.

To learn more about Green Clean, please visit their website, www.greencleanautowash.com. And if you'd like to invite SSCWN to tour your wash, please
e-mail Kate Carr, katec@sscwn.com.

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12/4/13 2:25 PM
JANUARY 2014
71

IBA
to
IBE:
Is a conversion right for your site?
If you have the right market and location, todays in-bay express and mini tunnel
systems offer a way to multiply volumes and lower operational costs.
After nine years of successful operation, Robert
Greene, owner of Carwash Express, Inc., a chain of
10 washes throughout southeast Georgia, learned
a brand new express exterior tunnel was about to
open less than a quarter mile from his 3/2 selfserve/IBA site in Kingsland, GA. From past experience, he expected the express wash would result
in a 35-45 percent loss in volumes and profits from
his touchfree IBAs.
Wanting to avoid the worst of it, Greene took a
leap of faith. In December 2012, he began the sixweek process of converting his two IBAs into a 37foot in-bay express conveyor.
We decided that to keep up with the industry
movement we had to move to friction and in order
to process more cars we decided to go conveyorized
rather than in-bay. We just wanted to be able to compete in the marketplace and move along with what
the industry was doing, Greene explained.
Starting the process towards higher profits
The first step in the conversion process is evaluating your marketplace, your customer, and your
competition, Greene explained. In his particular situation, Greene knew he had enough volume to keep
two IBAs busy and still attract an express exterior
competitor. Thanks to over 15 years of operational
experience, Greene was also confident his customers

would adapt easily to a friction wash model.


As soon as he was convinced his market could
support the conversion (and with permits in hand),
Greene scanned his calendar and found a convenient
time to prep his wash for the conversion and close
operations for the equipment install.
An in-bay express conversion requires the operator to:
1. Tear up existing concrete and rip out the inbay floor;
2. Excavate the car wash pit and handle any sewer or water line issues;
3. Put in conveyor trench; and
4. Install IBE equipment.

Making the conversion


In Greenes case, he had installed the 2/3 wash in
2003 and had an intimate knowledge of its groundwork and was able to plan for any contingencies
related to the sewer work, such as installing a lift
pump. But he assured operators the potential problems related to the conversion, such as a sewer at the
incorrect elevation or rerouting a sewer line, were
not difficult to overcome.
Dont be afraid of it, Greene advised. Its really
not a big deal, and the benefits far outweigh any issues you might encounter.

Is a conversion right for your site?


Before converting your site, ask yourself these questions.
Do you have the bay length? An in-bay express needs a minimum of 35-feet in bay space.
Do you have the potential volume? An in-bay express can process as many as 50 cars per hour.
The best traffic count for a site, therefore, rests somewhere between what is needed for an IBA
and what is necessary for a high-volume conveyor wash.
Do you have the right market/customer? The in-bay express platform thrives in a market with some
express exterior or conveyor competition. Talk to your customers and to customers from competing
sites to learn your strengths and weaknesses and use these to evaluate your next move.

AFTER

BEFORE

EQUIPMENT

35-foot in-bay
express conveyor
with wheel blasters

Touchfree IBA

AVERAGE
TICKET

$10

$7

72

JANUARY 2014

Greene not only orchestrated the IBA to IBE conversion over a period of six weeks in late 2011/early
2012, he also executed an electrical conversion at
the site from a 230 three-phase to 460 three-phase
in order to elongate performance on his tunnel components and motors.
We used to run $1,500 a month in an electrical
bill, and now its around $1,000, Greene said. The
wash was without power for about 36 hours and
Greene had to coordinate his efforts with the conversion process.
It wasnt very involved once I had the people lined
up and ready to do it all at the same time, Greene
recalled. He used his day without power to paint and
clean the facility to brighten its appearance ahead of
the grand re-opening.

Evaluating the costs and


benefits
When it comes to making the decision to invest in
an IBE system, Greene said operators can expect to
pay about 2.5 times what they would spend on an
IBA. However, the throughput more than quadruples, or in our case, its almost five times as much as
the IBA, Greene pointed out, adding that operators
can expect the return-on-investment from an IBE to
be exponentially better than an IBA.
Of course, it depends on the location, the business
model, and the competition, Greene said. In this
market, we were mainly trying to face a new competitor and maintain our market share. The one thing
I didnt count on was an increase in revenue-per-car.
We averaged about $7 with our touchfree, and now
were averaging well over $10-a-car in the IBE.
Thats something I never really considered, but its
real money in the bank, he stated, adding that he attributes the higher revenues to a better quality wash
and the addition of revenue-generating services like
wax products and online tire shine.
Weve had a lot of customers come up to us and
comment on the quality of the wash since the conversion, Greene stated. I think thats just what happens when you move from touchfree to friction.
In addition to the higher volumes and profits,
Greene also said his operational expenses have considerably decreased with the IBE platform. Our
water, chemical and electricity costs are much less,
Greene explained. So, at the end of the day, wed
make a lot more money per car, even if we didnt
increase revenue.

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LED, Follow, or

Get Outta the Bay!


LED lights at vac stations save money, improve security,
and encourage customer spending at night.
New LED technology in lighting is opening new
ways to save money while providing better customer service in several areas of the car wash business, including adding LED lights to vacuum locations. There are several reasons to do this. One,
to make the vacuum area more user friendly at
night and provide more security. Another is energy
savings by using more efficient lights in better locations. Due to the low energy draw, LED lighting
can enable you to add lights on existing circuits
where no night lighting would have been available
with other types.
I recently started adding lights to my vacuums
for all these reasons. In some areas, I mounted and
wired lights to a vacuum so they only come on
at night when a vacuum cycle is paid for. In other areas, I wired them in to stay on all night to
provide security and to cut down on the need for
other lights. The LED lights I chose are 23 watt
outdoor flood lights and can be found at any good
hardware store. They come with a built in photo
eye, provide around 1500 lumens of light, and run
about $60 each and the prices are dropping. In
addition to the lights, youll need a short extension
cord and a 1/2 inch electrical fitting to secure the
cords. The over all cost is under $70.
I mounted the LED light on top of the metal
dome of my vacuums. Use a 1/2 inch drill bit
for the power cord and a smaller, 1/4 inch bit to
mount the light fixture to the top of the dome.
Cut the short 3 wire extension cord in half and
wire one end into the fixture and the other end to
the vacuum power supply. By using the extension
cord youll be able to unplug the cords from each
other when servicing the vacuum to remove the
dome. If you want the light to only work when the
vac is on, then wire the second end of the cord directly to the vac motors. If youd rather the lights
to stay on at night then run the extension cord
down into the coin box and wire it into the incoming power before the timer.
The LED lights are rated for 50,000 hours, and
depending on how you wire them, they could last

over 30 years. Each 23 watt light draws less than


1/4 of a amp of power. A typical 2 motor vacuum
uses 16 amps of power on a 20 amp circuit breaker. By using the LED light youre still well below the maximum amperage. You can easily add
4 of these lights to any vacuum without worrying
about drawing too much power.
If you had a vac island that previously never had
any light because you lacked a circuit for one, this
is a simple method to add much needed light. At
one location, I added multiple lights to provide

IBA to IBE

crete. Then I hired subcontractors to re-pour the


concrete and I used a distributor to install the equipment. From the time we tore the floor out to the
time we were washing cars was only seven weeks,
with a week that included the Christmas and New
Years holidays, so I think we actually could have
done it in about four weeks if it hadnt been for that.
But we were on the job every day and making sure
things got done.

... CONTINUED ...


Advice for other operators
People ask me all the time: What does it take?
Greene said. Well, in our case, not much. We did a
lot of the work ourselves, like tearing out the con-

By: Scott Gray

night security lighting and discontinued using a


pole light that used two 400 watt metal halide
lights. This resulted in a savings of 700 watts of
power while still providing good security lighting,
and a very rapid return on my investment. You can
also use a motion sensor to activate the lights. This
is a simple, low cost addition to any car wash.
Scott Gray is a veteran of the self serve carwash
industry with over 15 years of operating experience.
Currently, he owns and manages four locations in
Idaho Falls, ID.

Vacuum light in operation at night.


Vacuum light
parts before
install.

Vacuum light
completed.

Interior of car illuminated


by vacuum light at night.

If we had the opportunity and the capital on hand


at this moment, Id be making the conversion at my
two other sites right this second, Greene continued.
It just makes sense to retrofit an old bay or if youre
building a new site that could support two or three
IBAs, to put in one mini tunnel instead of the second
or third IBA. Youll get better throughput, a better
quality of wash, and a reduced wait time for the customer. It just makes sense.
JANUARY 2014

77

Darwin at the

Carwash
If youre like me, one of your favorite sections of any issue of SSCWN was reading through
some of the dumb criminal reports. Well, for your reading pleasure, here are some of the
most asinine antics and unusual events to be reported in the carwash bays last year
Now this really sucks: Two burglars in Salt
Lake City used their personal shop vacuum (powered by an inverter in their SUV) to suck coins out
of a stand-alone vacuum cleaner at a carwash here.
Luckily, a passing cop spotted the men, who
probably made no more than $30 in their 12 minutes of work. And fittingly enough, their idiotic
attempt to be discrete is what did them in: These
enterprising morons used black electrical tape to
change a D to a B on their license plate, thus
attracting the watchful cops attention.
They were promptly arrested and charged with
suspicion of robbery.

camera using a blowtorch to


gain access to a coin machine
at a carwash here. All for $63.
At the time of the local
news report, the suspects were
still at large. And despite the
small haul for their horrifyingly
dumb efforts, they caused more
than $9,000 in damage to Tampas
Stor-N-More Storage & Car Wash. Our
sympathies to the operator who had to clean
up the mess of these obnoxious hooligans!
Better make sure youre clean before
you attempt to chase off any would-be
robbers at the wash! A carwash attendant in
Portland, OR, landed himself in jail on an outstanding warrant after he sprayed off a gunman

Heres what I call a hot mess: Another pair


of criminals in Tampa were less inventive in their
approach, and no more successful than our friends
in Salt Lake City. These bandits were caught on

Keep
!
g
n
i
m
o
c

at the Washman Carwash


here.
According to a local
newspaper report, the
costumed gunman wore a
skeleton mask, shoved a bag
at the worker and asked him
to fill it with cash. But instead
of a treat, the attendant delivered a trick. He used a power washer
at the tunnel entrance to shoot water at
2,000 psi at a man he suspected was using a fake
or malfunctioning handgun.
The worker was rewarded by his employer with
two days off with pay, but police jailed him on a
7-year-old warrant for DUI.
The report quoted the employee as saying (with
a shrug), Its about time I took care of it.

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JANUARY 2014

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Its a wash out for a man in Canada who


tried to explain his unreasonable speed as being
necessary because he had just washed his car and
needed to dry it. The driver was pulled over for
traveling over 180 kilometres per hour. (Dont
worry -- we did the conversion for you. Its about
110 mph for those of us in The States.) The judge
didnt buy it, and he landed himself a 45 day license suspension and $800 fine.
Then theres this man in Pikeville, KY,
who managed to pass out in his vehicle while in
line at the carwash.
While he was on drugs. And positioned in front
of an off-duty police officer.
You cant make this stuff up!
And in Green County, TN, a man similarly under the influence was arrested
after he managed to get his box truck
stuck in a car wash. He told police he
had taken anti-anxiety pills before
the incident. He might want to
consider passing the prescription bottle over to the owner of
the carwash, though: Damage
to the equipment was estimated
around $7,000.

a large (and deceased) black


bear. The employee suspected it may have been
left by three customers
who were caught on video tape at the wash earlier that day. It may have
been hunted for its gallbladder, according to a local report. There is a black
market for bear gallbladders
here, which are used in some
traditional Chinese medicines.
Ready or not, here come the police! A criminal in Spokane was arrested for burglary (and repeat stupidity) after he attempted to
burglarize a carwash here by climbing through
a roof hatch and hiding in the ceiling of the
building. It was the second time he had attempted to rob the wash; the first time he
was caught after leaving behind paperwork with his name on it.

Whats the most gruesome


discovery youve made in the
car wash dumpster? Probably not
as hairy as this one: A carwash
worker in Canada checked the trash
after noticing the bin was closed and found

METAL
HALIDE

ID and keys, and after


an internal investigation was started, his
gun was returned, as
well.

(1200 Watts)

Looks like local authorities were


already on the scene at a Muncie,
IN, car wash that had a call for shots
fired. Thats because it was a reserve
deputy with the local county sheriffs
office doing the shooting. Apparently,
after a few too many drinks, the highly intoxicated reserve deputy decided
to shoot up his truck in a car wash bay.
He later turned in his county-issued

VS.

I,
uh,
was
just taking this
vacuum cleaner
unit to have it repaired. Thats the
excuse a recently fired
carwash worker gave to police who showed up after a call
about suspicious activity. Seems the
disgruntled employee was caught red-handed with
broken pieces of concrete around the scene and
the vacuum cleaner in his hands.
And what landed the thief his pink slip in the
first place? Stealing from the business, naturally.
He was charged with vandalism, safe cracking,
tampering with a coin machine, possession of
criminal tools and possession of drugs after the
cops conducted a search on his person. Go big or
go home, I guess!
A drunk man who hit a gas station carwash with his vehicle must have been feeling
particularly bold, because he decided to go inside
the store to demand a refund after the incident,
according to a Virginian newspaper. Employees
called it in, but not before the man got back in his
vehicle to drive away. Police managed to pull him
{continued }

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JANUARY 2014

79

TIPS N TRICKS
from ACF

A round-up of interesting and common


problems and the best and brightest
solutions posted on AutoCareForum in
the last few months. (Note: Some posts
feature minor edits for readability.)

From Wayne J: Ive been having a problem with


a white chalky build up in the inlet side plumbing
and in the heads. Ive been told it was because I was
mixing the soap too strong. Ive diluted the mixture
some. Havent had any customer complaints so far.
Anyhow I have a head that I need to remove a
valve. I cant get the valves out because of the build
up around the valves. What is a good way to remove this build up?

MEP001: Take the manifold off, remove all the


seals, pull the plastic tops off the valves and soak it
in Klean Wall.
The chalky buildup is more likely to be from hard
water than running soap too strong.

rph9168: Most of it could be calcium buildup from


hard water but if the chemicals you are using are
not hard water tolerant some or much of it could be
product residue from undisolved solids. I have seen
products that are not hard water tolerant clog up 1/2
inch supply lines.

Plow Guy: Wayne, You may have a vacuum leak on


the soap or wax injection system. Air in your pump
head can oxidize your soap or calcium. I have had
Kip valves and poly hose fittings suck air but not
drip fluid. Try using a pressure regulator on your air
compressor.1 or 2 pounds is good. then attach it at
your poly hose on your pump head. Look for bubbles, then remove the feed line at your kip valve and
check for bubbles at your distribution manifold and
lines feeding your other pumps. The screen at your
hydrominder tank can be restricted causing cavitation and air in your lines. When you find your leak
you will notice a noise reduction in your pumps.

Almaprowash: What kind of trash can do yall


use and do you use trash bags?

PEI: Our trash cans are built into our Vac Isles. We
use a cut down 55 gallon drum as a liner and place
a 35 gallon Brute or Rubbermaid trash can inside.
You can save some money by not using trash bags,
but if you use the 3 mil 42 gallon trash bags it makes
dealing with the trash really simple. They will hold
the weight of a car battery and if they get water in
the bottom you can use a knife to make a few slits
and let the water out, without the bag coming apart.

80

JANUARY 2014

MEP001: I also use Rubbermaid Brute

Whale of a Wash: We have deer and goose hunting

trash cans in 55-gal. drums that are set into the concrete islands. I dont use trash bags, I just dump them
straight into the dumpster and wash out a couple of
the dirtiest cans every day. They last ten years if no
one is dragging them around to dump them.

season going on right now, and


so many muddy hunters. Almost, I mean it is
impossible to deal with, and washing bays at the 5
washes almost 15 hrs a day. We have clay soil so fairly
difficult to clean up. Signs help a little. Asking them
to help clean up and giving them tokens helps more,
but their version of cleaning is maybe 85%. But better than nothing.
I think the best solution is to have higher prices
like mine, so you are at least making money from
them. Good luck in training the Cave-Man.

Randy: The more garbage cans you have the more


garbage youre going to get. We have 2 Rubbermaid
56 gallon Glutton garbage cans at each of the car
washes, like these http://www.samsclub.com/sams/
rubberm...-gal/154096.ip we dont use bags or liners,
we use a hand truck and wheel the can to the 11/2
cubic yard dumpster, dump it and wheel it back. I
wonder how much money weve saved in the last 32
years by not using bags or liners.

pgrzes: I totally agree. I have a 30 gal. plastic soap


drum that we cut the lid off and drill holes in the
bottom and 4 holes at the top for a rope handle at
each vac island. And 5 gal. pails at the end of each
bay. We replace them as necessary. Maybe every 1
1/2- 2 years. We make sure we put holes in everything or they will empty the trash on the ground and
use them to bucket wash everything.

Jim L.: Anybody got a sure fire cure for mudders?


Ive got a small group of kids that love to play in
the mud and then come to my wash and make a big
mess. Sunday is their favorite day, so I tried turning off the bays on Sunday night hoping they would
go somewhere else. They just waited until Monday
evening.
I know some of them, but how do I stop them
short of shutting the wash down?

MEP 001: I know one guy who put up signs in his


truck bays that say $200 fee for excessive mud. He
bought and refurbished a wash with two truck bays
and was having to pick up five wheelbarrows full of
mud off the floor every day. The signs almost completely stopped it. He said he checked with police
and they would enforce his fee under shoplifting because its posted in clear view.
If signs alone dont work, youll need surveillance
video or youll need to catch them in the act.

mmurra: We have dealt with this recently. We are


a gated wash all you want. There is a local group
of mudders. They have a weekly competition in an
adjacent community. Once they found out about
WAUW, they flocked in at night when no one was
around. What we did:
Posted a permanent sign We have the right to refuse service to anyone
We have a changeable letter sign that we posted
Mudders banned. We have cameras. We call police
I made the wash manager increase his urgency by
making him come in and clean the mess on Sunday
am until resolved.
I met with city police chief and explained the
problem. He offered to cooperate (they wash at our
place). He would arrest any repeater once warned if
we would testify / prosecute. We agreed.
We red flagged this issue as a super high priority. Our people caught two mudders, explained that
they would be arrested for trespass once they had
been warned.
We wrote down lic number and description
We asked them to inform the group that they are
risking arrest when caught.
They stopped coming.

JM MUSTANG: Years ago I posted a yellow sandwich sign (2 x 4) between bays 1 & 2 stating that
ALL mudders must use bays 1 & 2 only.
For several weeks we made sure to inform all of
them that came in and told them to clean those bays
so the next mudder could use it.

TIPS N TRICKS
We explained that due to customer complaints we
had to come up with this plan to try and keep everybody happy.
If the mudders didnt comply we would close
down and turn of all the electric to all the bays at
8:00 pm.
I was amazed that nearly all of them complied.
Many of them thanked me for having bays for them
and even told me that when they were in the wash
and saw a mudder go into another bay they would go
over and tell them to move to bay 1 or 2.
It isnt 100% but it is A LOT better than it used
to be.

jason_tipton: Was wondering if anyone had experience or advice on remote monitoring self serve
equipment. Something that can monitor money into
self serve bays and into changer and so forth. The
more things it can monitor that I can verify by pc or
phone the better. A system that I can see what has
happened with out being on site.

Ric: I use this www.washremote.com


It does far more than just monitor $$$. It records
daily weather history. It sends me text/email alerts to
equipment problems. I can turn bays/iba on/off via
my smart phone or anything else I want to. It handles my credit card acceptance via broadband and
my wash club/frequent washer program. Fleet cards,
gift cards and much more...very diverse system with
good customer support. No, I am not affiliated. Just
been happy with the system since it was installed almost 3 years ago.

Follow-up question from jason_tipton: Ric this


is one of the systems I came across with some internet research. Are there any areas of this system
you dont like or need to be addressed? Also do you
feel comfortable that your was could be operated
remotely with this system?

Ric: If there is something that needs to be addressed


I contact the guy in charge and he addresses my
needs.
I guess I need to know more specifically what you
mean by operating your wash remotely. Ive been
trying to get them to develop an app that will empty
the trash cans but they just cant seem to make it
happen.

Follow-up question from jason_tipton: I am


thinking of investing in a wash out of state and is a
drive that wouldnt allow me to be on site. I want to
be able to confirm money in to my machines (bays,
changer etc.) to reconcile with deposits. This along
with good camera system I think I can make it work
and its worth a deeper look for me. Thanks

Ric: Yes, http://www.washremote.com would work


for you. I have access to multiple detailed accounting
reports. You also have the ability to monitor/be notified via text or email when an event happens. Such
as...a changer door opens, the lights turn on, high/
low temp, etc...if you can add a contact switch to it,
you can monitor it, be alerted to it and turn it on/off.

Very versatile and flexible system. Call and ask for


Brian. He will give you an online demo. Tell him Ric
from Michigan said hello.

bigleo48: My WashPay system from Unitec, like


many others does the cash monitoring for me. Over
the last few years Ive upgraded my cameras for better visual monitoring (along with plate recognition).
I also have it posts snapshots of all my cameras every 30 secs and I view that on my browser to get
a quick view of whats going on...usually with my
smartphone. My Geovision camera system also has
an I/O module with 16 inputs and 8 outputs. That
allows me to control the bays and some monitoring
points. I also use controlbyweb products to monitor
temperature and control some devices (like pwr cycling the change machine, some servers, etc). My M5
IBA has great web control and monitoring.
So all this control allows me to get a feel of whats
going on remotely, deal with customers who have
problems over the phone and track cash. I dont
know how carwash operators dealt with all this stuff
10 years ago!? Last fall I help a customer in an SS
bay from my iphone during a cruise in the middle
of the Gulf!

Sequoia: I have a lot of experience with this as I live


2 hours away from my wash.
I first installed a plc from Phaedrus, a company in
the UK. You have to write your own programming
for it but it was pretty easy to figure out.
Later, I installed a more sophisticated plc from
Triangle Research. I believe it is a Trilogic unit. It
uses different programming-- ladder logic, and also
wasnt too hard to figure out. I can remotely monitor lots of things, including how much money is in
each coin box.
I am eventually going to migrate to an Avtech
room alert product, which I am testing now. It is a
more out-of-the-box solution and you can connect
many sensors-- keeping track of outside temps, hot
water temps, boiler cycling on and off, or whatever.
Their product also integrates with Axis IP cameras
and although I have fiddled with that I have not put
it into use yet.
One note-- I gave up long ago trying to track each
coin plus to know the exact number of coins in any
given coin box. Instead, I just track how many times
the timer starts up and turns off. From experience, I
know that when any bay is getting up to 200 washes
I need to go collect the money. Originally my changers filled up before the coin boxes but I switched
from 500 bill capacity to 700 capacity (each) and
now everything pretty much gets full at the same
time. Hope that helps.

Darwin
at the
Carwash
... CONTINUED ...
over just before he entered the highway. The man
fessed up to taking some prescription medication
at 10 a.m., just shortly before he had his first two
shots of vodka at a nearby bar by 11 a.m. He was
charged with 4th-degree DWI.
See no evil, be charged with no evil? Not
quite. A man in Hayfield, MN, stole two security
cameras from a local carwash, but the entire incident remained recorded on surveillance footage
and police were able to track the license plate and
later apprehended the suspect. A search of the
mans home not only turned up the two weatherproof night vision security cameras, but also a
straw pipe that tested positive for meth.
Last but not least, a little tidbit for those
of you who consider stupidity to be a crime. A
lawmaker in Utah is attempting to legislate the
carwash industry after he used his credit card at a
self-serve wash and forgot to push the stop button
before leaving, resulting in a $50 charge.
State Rep. Eric Hutchings said he was unable to
reach the owner of the carwash and was not able
to successfully dispute the charge with his credit-card company either. (Most likely because you
cant fix stupid.)
Or, as Hutchings himself explained to a local paper, [The credit card company] said, Well did you
receive the service? I said, Well kind of, but not
all $50 worth. Well, were there any instructions?
Thats where they get off on the technicality because
it says when you are finished, push the button, he
said. My guess if it happened to me, it has happened
to thousands of people. Its just a sneaky-bugger way
of getting people on a technicality.
Yes. A sneaky-bugger way of posting a sign which
gives clear instructions on how to use the equipment for anyone who wishes to purchase the service offered. My goodness, sir, youve got me there.
But instead of accepting his lumps and walking
away with a lesson learned, Hutchings decided to
propose a bill which would require car washes either to have credit card readers automatically turn
off when washer wands and similar equipment
are switched off, or set a reasonable maximum
which he is still working on for time or amounts
charged, the article reported.
To really drive the point home on this moron,
Hutchings told the newspaper he doubts his proposed bill will be met with much debate. I mean
good grief, what are you going to say? Its our
American right to rip people off if they are stupid? he told the newspaper.
Well, sir. If the shoe fits...

JANUARY 2014

81

SS CARWASH PANEL DISCUSSION 10/20/13

SECWA
ROAD SHOW
NOTE FROM PUBLISHER JACKSON VAHALY:

Marc Wilson, executive director of the Southeastern Carwash


Association, was generous enough to extend me a pass to the
Associations road show in Atlanta this past October. I enjoyed
meeting a lot of nice people and toured some great carwashes. The
night before the tour was a series of educational sessions, including
one specifically for the self serve segment.

LEAD MODERATORS:
Dale Reynolds Carolina Pride Carwash Systems
Marcus Kittrell Marc-1 Car Wash
Brad Ray Coastal Car Wash

SSCWN bugged the panel discussion and the following is what we got:
DALE: Can I get a show of hands in here of how
many operators in here have self serve bays? Good thats a nice turnout. You know its an amazing business, the carwash industry. Im dating myself a little,
but I got involved in carwashing when I was 8 years
old when my dad started out in self serve carwashes.
That was 45 years ago. And its changed a lot.
In carwashing back then, we were really excited
when we got something besides soap, wax and rinse
in the carwash. And for many years, the self serve
business was the growing business segment of the
carwash industry. Lo and behold, things changed
a little bit; well, the full serve market was doing its
thing, but in came the in-bay automatics in the last
15-20 years, and that really changed things. And also
the self serve business changed in that we started
adding additional services. Back in the 70s we started adding tire cleaner and pre-soak, foam brushes
were added, and most of the carwashes out there havent grown much beyond that since then. Ive seen
a lot of growth in other areas and other models in
the carwash business such as in-bay automatics. And
you know every business changes in some form or
fashion whether we change with it and we promote
the change or somebody else changes it for us.
But the biggest thing here is how do we change
and continue to grow a viable business? And a lot of
people say self serve is not viable anymore. One thing
I tell people is that when you build a new house today you probably put a dishwasher in the house, but
you still put that sink right there next to it because
there are still some things youre going to have to

82

JANUARY 2014

wash by hand. Same thing in the carwash industry.


There is a market for it, but the thing we dont see
much anymore is the 10 bay self serves being built.
You see a lot more smaller configurations, 2, 3, 4 or
5 bays of self serve is about as big as youll see here
in the US now. And then youll see some thatll have
2-3 automatic bays or different combinations. You go
up in the Northeast and youll see self serve bays,
express tunnels, in-bay automatics and all kinds of
combinations up there where we still see construction of new self serve washes.
But here in the Southeast it seems to be lagging
more, and I think the express model has changed it
some in that aspect. Our carwash business is going
to continue to have a need for self serve carwashes. As we see people changing their business model
and they go from self serves to in-bay automatics and
even mini-tunnels, express tunnels and all combinations, the self serve bays did not get the additional
attention because everybody was chasing the new
money maker.
So how do we keep them viable? A lot of these
guys have done many different things to continue to
make self serve a valuable part of their business and
a lot of thats by re-investing in it. One of the sites
that I have in Rocksboro is a 7-bay self serve and
in-bay automatic site. Its been remodeled 5 times
over its lifetime. I dont have the slides here to show
you, but its a very good business we like all the
different aspects of it. We just went through another
remodel a couple of years ago and totally changed
the whole look of the place. We put up stucco and

all kinds of stuff and if you drove up and saw it youd


never know that site is as old as it is.
There are so many little things that we see going around to different sites - people are investing
in adding new services to their automatic bay but
theyre still not doing the self serve. And we wonder
why the self serve business is going down. In many
cases, its gone down because were late coming back
to market with new services for that arena. So many
of you added the triple foam to your in-bay automatic and that was a great win. Everybody wanted the
magic colors in their bay to bring in new people to
wash their car and raise that revenue, but how many
went back and added it to the self serve? How many
added credit cards to the self serve bays? Dont make
it hard for customers to spend money. I was talking
to a couple of guys this afternoon and one of the guys
manages self serves and he doesnt carry any cash at
all so how are we going to do business with these
people if we dont do business the way they want to
do business?
Im an operator and a distributor and I also manufacturer self serve carwash systems and we still see
huge growth, especially in the Canadian market
self serves taking off like crazy up there. But you
know the funny thing is, theyre more aggressive in
adding new services to their washes than we are here
in the States. Some people are being more innovative
and trying new things, but if you want a self serve
bay to grow like your in-bay automatic you need to
add the same services that people are going to your
{continued }

Alaska Polycarbonate Doors

Magnaglide & Powerglide Air Openers

XRS Vinyl Roll Up Doors

JANUARY 2014

83

SECWA Road Show

Marcus and Brad speak


from experience.

automatic for as much as you can.


I know Marcus has done some different wash concepts with the unlimited wash program where you
go in and pay one flat fee and Brad has done some
different things as well so Im going to let them share
a little bit of what theyve done.
MARCUS: I built a self serve back in 86 - a regular
6-bay, coin operated self serve. Then back in 2006, I
built an express about a mile away and, after some
other guys tried it, we decided to gate our self serve
where you basically pay one entry price to wash and
vacuum all you want. We opened up in February of
this year and were on track to do double what we
were doing in our self serve as a coin operated carwash. We have a full time attendant down there for
40 hours a week.
So, thats how we decided to go back after the self
serve market, and what we have seen is like when we
first built the carwash. We have a really good clientele there who want to do it themselves and wont
go through our tunnels, dont like the touch-free, and
want to hand wash their car. So, were seeing a lot of
those customers back. We have customers who use
our tunnel with our gift cards and they bring their
4-wheelers and we cross-market with our self serve.
Since were only about a mile away, we have customers that use both of us the self serve and the tunnel,
but like Dale was saying the self serve market is still
there. It might not be as big as it was in the 80s and
in the 90s, but its still a viable market if you reinvest. Thats how we decided to go after that market
with our wash. Its a 7-bay self serve you pay one
price and you can wash and vacuum all you want.
BRAD: How many of you out there with self serves
arent happy with your incomes? How many are
looking to acquire a self serve? Theres a ton of em
lookin to give em away. How many are lookin to
dump a self serve? Thats become the attitude.
There are two things that you can consider: a
new model or adding services. How many of you
have considered a new model, gating them, adding
mini-tunnels, any of that stuff? What about adding
services? Is there anybody doing anything other than
these got any outside-the-box ideas?
We looked at it a long time ago. Were competing
with the express tunnels. An express tunnel has got
a closed market. It can fit a nice, clean pretty Lexus
but guess what, there are a lot of cars that dont fit
that model. That guy has a 4-wheeler, he has a boat,
hes got his wifes car, hes got his work truck with a
ladder on it If you can change your models up and
take a look at what you can do, you can go from grow
your business when you start adding various models
to it. You can get the self serve guy, the express guy,
and you can get the 24 hour in-bay. So now youve
got everything your competitors have, plus. Thats
been some of the new thought out there.
QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE:

We tried unlimited time


84

JANUARY 2014

in the bays, and we capped


it at 20 minutes and it seemed to
work until you went on
water restriction the county
didnt really like you having
unlimited time.
DALE: In the unlimited wash plan for self serve,
there have been different models that have been implemented. Marcus, yours is a gated system where
you pull in and pay one deal and you leave. At
Champion in Nashville theyve put gates on individual bays themselves. And we actually did something
for some customers where we put an ultra-sonic in
the bay rather than gates so as soon as that vehicle
pulled out we were able to shut the timer off for
them. So, you have another model rather than having to put so many gates up. There are different ways
you can implement it. Marcus is going to tell us
MARCUS: Yeah, we tried the 20 minute time we
did that for about 5 or 6 years and it gave us a small
bump, but nothing like what the gated self serve has
done. Its revitalized our self serve. We just bought
another 3-bay self serve and a 3-bay automatic and
we gutted it knocked all the interior walls out and
were making it a full express now. Marc Wilson has
also done that so you can look at your self serve in a
couple of different ways: Either adding the mini-tunnel or gate it like we have, but it could be a good site
for a full-blown express as well. You need to leave
all your options open, because what were doing is
taking all the walls out and were running the tunnel
right down the middle of it. And so we should be
open here in a couple of months.
QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE:

Marcus, on the gated self


serve, percentage-wise,
did it double your revenue?
MARCUS: Oh yeah, its doubled the revenue,
absolutely.
DALE: One of the things Ive seen in visiting a lot of
self serve carwashes is we hurt ourselves. To a degree.
The chemical industry didnt help us either in that
most people dont know how to wash their car in a
self serve bay. We put up a sign and tell them how to
do it, but nobody reads the sign when they go into
the bay, quite honestly. And then we started marketing certain things trying to appeal to their senses, so
we get a color or we make it smell good or stink bad,

whichever way you want to call it.


The other thing is we depend on cleaning the
cars using the foam brush. Actually, in the early 70s
when foam brushes came out and we installed them
for some of our customers, some of their revenues
went down. That was hard to figure out for a while,
but prior to that we had everybody using a pre-soak
and when youre using pre-soak the only way its
coming out is if theres time running on the meter. If
theyre using that foam brush and the time runs out,
guess what, they keep brushing the car. They dont
put money in until theyre through brushing the car
and then theyll put some more money in and start
rinsing so probably a third of the time I see people
using a foam brush is not being paid for. So my challenge for everybody here with a self serve carwash is:
Can you clean your car without using a foam brush?
COMMENT FROM THE AUDIENCE:
At one of our locations Ive got a stand-alone self
serve and a self serve with a tunnel, and I was
noticing at the self serve with the tunnel I was going through brushes about every 3-4 months and I
asked my manager, Whats going on here? Why are
we going through these when the stand-alones not
doing that? And he was telling me that customers
were coming around and not [putting in] a quarter, but using the brush and coming around to the
tunnel even though we had a prep process there. So
I invested in the Wobblehead foam brush handles
that Kleenrite had. Not only are the brushes lasting
longer, but Ive seen my revenues increase by about
5-6% for those bays.
DALE: And so youre giving a device for people to
use, and especially if you have a tag-team going on at
the carwash, somebodys got the high pressure wash
on one side and somebodys got the foam brush on
the other side washing the car.
There was a carwash chain (franchise) in the Midwest called Super Wash and they did not allow foam
brushes in any of their locations. That was part of the
franchise agreement. They believed in the chemical
process of cleaning the car. Every one of you who
owns a self serve, I challenge you to go back and see if
you can clean your car without using a foam brush. If
you cant, you need to make some changes. Because
in my belief, every service you provide in that bay
should have value, not just color, not just foam. Actually a high-pressure soap should be a cleaner, presoak should be a cleaner, also.
How many of you in your bays are still selling tire
cleaner? Whos selling wheel cleaner in their self
serve bays? Guess what were not cleaning white
wall tires anymore. Were cleaning wheels thats
the biggest challenge to everybody in the tunnels
and automatics is cleaning wheels. How many have
cleaned white wall tires lately? Nobody. So youve
got to change what youre doing in the self serve bay
and youve got to start cleaning that wheel because
thats what that guys spending his money on.
And giving additional services --whether thats

SECWA Road Show


The anxious throng awaits a chance to
catch a glimpse of Marty in his iconic
DeLorean as it exits the bay.

adding a dryer to the bay or adding credit card acceptance -- youve got to be able to do business and
offer the services that theyre looking for. If you dont
have it in your self serve bay, maybe theyve got to
go to your automatic bay to get it. So youre driving
that customer to that bay. Its also convenience. Are
we making it easy and convenient for that customer
to do business with us, whether its a bill acceptor in
the bay or easy to get other services? How many of
you have a self serve automatic combination? How
many of you wash your own car in the self serve bay?
Everybodys going through the automatic. Everybodys trying to find a convenient way, but again,
why arent you using the self serve bay? Is it because
youre not cleaning as well as you want to? Im just
giving you some food for thought. If you put as
much effort into your self serve bay as you do your
automatics it would perform better in many cases.
MARCUS: I agree with that 100%. We have people
that pass other self serve carwashes to come to ours
because we heat the water and we heat the soap. I
think thats very important. Like Dales talked about
- being able to wash the car. We change our membranes and make sure we have spot-free rinse. We
have the heated pre-soaks. That customer expects a
certain result when they go into your carwash.
Its easy to give up on the self serve business. The
hard thing, like Dale talked about, is to spend some
time. And sometimes you might not think you see
the return on it. You have to decide if youre going
to be in the self serve business how to separate yourself from any and all other competition whether it
be self serve or tunnels. We were fortunate, we were
the competition of our own self serve, so we were
able to dictate what we did. But the customer that
comes into our self serve expects things to work and
so my advice is to control inside your curbs. Spend
the money and try to get the return that you need
and expect out of your self serve.
I gave up on my self serve for about 7 years. The
funny story is that after I fixed it up, the mayor of
the city called me up and said, Marcus, I forgot you
owned that carwash, and I said, I did, too, for the
longest time. For probably 5-6 years it was a necessary evil to ever go by it. But like I said, we gated it
and simplified it so we could take charge cards and
about 45% of our business is debit/credit cards now
through this gated process. So its worked for us.
BRAD: Dale talked about adding extra services and
I dont know how many of you with self serve are
taking credit cards, but its become reasonable to add
to your locations. I was reading an article about, what

do they call them, Generation P? Theyre all plastic.


The people that use the self serve carwash are from
16 to 40 [years old]. In that age range, if you ask
them to pull their wallet, I guarantee you theres not
a penny in it. So if youre going to get their business
you better figure out how to take plastic. And under the gated scenario its very simple you got one
place to pay and you dont have to have all the stuff
in each bay.
DALE: You know, people look at the revenue per
car and when you add credit card systems to your
bays, typically you see a nice increase over the cash
customer. Also adding bill acceptors increases average transaction received as well. And there are some
little things you should look at for your business. I try
to compare it a little bit to the petroleum industry.
You look at BP and your major oil companies out
there and at least every 10 years they totally re-image their company brand. People think its a new
company out there, but its not they just put a new
label on it. How many of us have done that with our
self serve carwashes or any of your other carwashes?
One of the most visible things you can do is with
your vacuums. Change the color of the dome out
there. Change the color of the vacuum hose. And
when you do it, you can go up on the price.
The biggest thing I hear is that people are scared to
go up on their prices in self serve bays. You can go up
in price when you add things of value to the customer and they like it. One of the funniest things: Years
ago I put in the vac-it-up system to suck the coins
from the meters back into the equipment room, and
I got so many compliments from people. You hear
the quarters flying overhead and people are asking,
Whats going on there? I said, Well, we call that
direct deposit. One of my friends said, You know,
youre the only person Ive seen get people to like
you sucking the money right out of their hands. ts
a matter of perception of what people like, but they
were confused. Whats going on? And I tell them,
Its for safety it goes straight to the bank.
People notice every little thing you do. So just
changing your colors change the colors of your face
or take it down and put up a new one. Re-image it
change your sign out front. Change your company

color. Just change something.


I grew up with a quarter carwash business and a
lot of my friends kid me about quarters and all. As
a matter of fact, my son and I were walking through
the parking lot this past Spring and there were some
pennies on the ground and I said Grab em. He said,
Im not picking those up, and I said, Okay, youre
grounded then. And I reached down and picked
them up and said, If youre not going to bend down
and pick up that easy one, then you dont need any
of mine. He couldnt believe it.
Its all incremental. Even quarters coming into a
carwash add up tremendously, so I recommend to
you just consider simple investments like changing
the color of the vacuum hose or change the color of
the dome on your vacuum. Its just a hundred bucks
a vacuum, but everybody driving down the street
suddenly sees your carwash again. Little things. Everybody needs to look at reinvesting in their business
in some form or fashion. But the first thing you need
to start with is giving them a clean car and if you
cant clean your own car, your customers not going
to either. So start working on getting it clean and
change the image a little bit.
MARCUS: You know one thing that Dale was
talking about was adding services to your bays. We
added an ice machine to our location and its been
a very nice addition. Youd be amazed by the people
who buy ice and also use your self serve. Theres a
company located near our carwash that does a lot of
the contracting work for Alabama Power and they
take those big trucks through the carwashes. They
stop every morning to get probably $20-30 worth of
ice and then theyll wash their trucks. We made an
access for them because their trucks are bigger than
our canopies.
Look around your area for businesses that you
may be able to go solicit. Landscape companies that
cant take their trailers through a tunnel carwash.
Offer a special deal. We use token notes we use
that through our machines so we can promote it that
way. There are still a lot of good customers for the
self serve business that cant use a traditional full service or an express, so I challenge you to look in your
{continued }
JANUARY 2014

85

Accepting Tokens Made Easy


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86

JANUARY 2014

SECWA Road Show


area and youd be amazed at the different customers
out there that will use your carwash.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:
We assume in the industry that everybody outside
our industry knows what theyre doing when they
pull into our business, but they dont. There are
things that we take for granted in the self serve business that we dont take for granted in the conveyor
business, such as, well, time. Consumers that come
into self serves really dont know what that is. Time is
money. Thats really what youre selling in that bay
youre selling time. So, I created pictograms that
went up on the wall in the bay with arrows pointing
to each wand. We created a process. Ive seen those
that say 1,2,3,4 and I get that, but you have to have
a correlation between the selector and the pictogram
and you need to inform them that they need to use
this process to get the car clean. So now they can
get educated as youre demonstrating how to get
through the process of cleaning the car properly and
its all done with matching numbered pictograms on
the selectors while they spend more time. Revenues
went through the roof at that facility and the owner
just bought another 4 and 2. So when you go back
just look at your place like youre a consumer. If you
dont know anything about washing in a self serve
bay and you just pull up there and swipe a card
and start turning buttons and things start happening and youre not educated about how to clean the

Association
Calendar of Events

CALENDAR

FEBRUARY 23-24: SCWA Convention & Expo, Presented by Southwest Car Wash Association,
Arlington, TX, www.swcarwash.org.
MARCH 30-APRIL 2: The Car Wash Show, Presented by International Carwash Association,
Chicago, www.carwash.org.
APRIL 27-28: SECWA Road Show, Presented by Southeastern Carwash Association,
RIchmond, VA, www.secwa.org
APRIL 29-30: HCA Product Show, Presented by Heartland Carwash Association, Altoona, IA,
www.heartlandcarwash.org.
MAY 5-7: MCA Show & Expo, Presented by Midwest Carwash Association, Sterling Heights,
MI, www.midwestcarwash.com.
JULY 20-22: SECWA Trade Show and Expo, Presented by Southeastern Carwash Association,
Orlando, www.secwa.org.
SEPTEMBER 15-17: Northeast Regional Carwash Convention, Presented by CWONJ, New
England, New York, Connecticut, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic City, www.nrccshow.com.
SEPTEMBER 24-25: Wash Different Workshop, Presented by International Carwash
Association, Rosemont, IL, www.carwash.org.
OCTOBER 29-30: Western Car Wash Show, Presented by Western Carwash Association, Las
Vegas, www.wcwa.org.
car properly in that facility then thats our role. We
should be educating them to the process and theyll
deliver the time and thats what were looking for.
DALE: Thats one of the policies at my carwashes
is that if somebody pulls into the wash bay and they
have a new license tag or a temporary tag on the car
cause they just bought it we give them a free car-

wash. We want to train them on how to use the carwash properly. I tell them washing with a rag is one
of the worst things you can do to the finish because
youre holding that dirt flat down to the surface with
no water or anything washing it out, whereas with a
foam brush youve got foam coming out. If you cook
a casserole you dont just throw it in the dishwasher,
you fill it up in the sink and let it soak. Thats the

SouthweSt Car waSh aSSoCiation

2014 Convention
& Car wash eXPo

THE GAME
IS CHANGING
INFORMATION STRATEGY SOLUTIONS

February 23-25, 2014


Arlington, Texas
Convention Center & Sheraton Hotel

2014 Convention Information www.swcarwash.org (800) 440-0644


SCWA Promo Ad.indd 1

JANUARY
2014
AM
11/14/13
11:05
87

SECWA Road Show


same thing with a pre-soak - you put it on there and
let it work. Youve got to explain it to them in ways
they can understand and show them how to use it.
They might say, Yeah, but thats going to cost me a
lot more money, and you let them know theyll get
a clean car, safely, and theyll take care of it.
You also find out when you hire employees that
they really dont know how to wash a car, either. Marcus mentioned hot water turning it back on will
make you money. How many people have washed
their hands in cold water and had to wait to go home
and used hot water to get them clean? On the self
serve bay, when youre rinsing the car with cold water,
you kill the suds, but you still leave the soap on the
car. If you rinse it with hot water you will rinse longer
because it takes longer to rinse that soap off the car.
Soap left on the car is no better than dirt left on the
car. You will sell more rinse time with hot water than
you will with cold water. So Im not a believer in the
cold water rinse. I believe in an all hot-water wash and
youll get the value out of it. But thats me, and Ive got
a lot of opinions, Ive been told.
BRAD: Do any of the self serve operators out there
know who your customers are? Thats one thing that
the self serve markets never done. If you look at the
full serve guys they can tell you who that customer
is, what they bought last time and what color their
other three cars are. We dont talk to our customers
enough. We just expect them to come and put money in. We dont have databases, and we dont do the

88

JANUARY 2014

A luxurious spot to clean Spot.

marketing. All these new loyalty plans use technology


that can be used in self serves now. Its easier to take
a customer youve already got and get more money
out of them than to get a new one. Tell me who your
best customer is Maybe the guy you see in the blue
car every now and then. But you dont know how to
communicate with him. Granted, the self serve is the
red-headed stepchild of the industry, but were gonna
have to do every one of these things to stay afloat and
marketing is going to have to be part of it.
DALE: I was reading a USA Today article this past
Monday about driving habits and it was talking about
how drivers are not getting their license at as early an

age as they used to. Ten years ago, 85% of 18-yearolds had their drivers license, and today its only
73%. The article said a lot of that has to do with social media people are not having to travel to go see
each other not having to go out to see the world
anymore as theyve got their world at their fingertips.
Now when I was a kid and turned 16, I couldnt wait
to get out of the house. Thats the only way you got
to see anything. Now its different. Neither one of
my sons were really excited about getting their drivers license. So our market has changed, especially
the self serve arena was where the kids first went to
wash their cars. I was talking to a friend about how
you used to spend all Saturday afternoon washing
you car, rub in the hand wax When was the last
time you saw somebody wax their car? Were selling
all these other options in the bays.
So our market is changing with the youth. The biggest thing is being able to educate them to the value of taking care of your car. You know in recessions
we saw in years past typically car washing went up
because people were holding onto their cars longer
and they were taking better care of them, but this is
the only one where in many cases car washing went
down. We had a huge increase in the price of gasoline. Then there are other markets that have grown
{continued }

SECWA Road Show


and prospered with this and you learn about other
sectors the self serve can go after. You learn about
the car clubs, the Corvette clubs and things like that.
Theyre typically not going to bring them in to things
like an express wash, tunnels or IBAs those guys
are going to love and rub on those cars.
Another thing you can look at is market to the
guys who sell the big custom wheels - they dont
want them going on the conveyors. You talk to those
guys and give them a coupon to market your carwash, and if youve got the wheel cleaners in the bays
now youve got the stuff to help that guy take care
of it and simplify the process for his vehicle. So there
are still market segments out there that are growing.
Any questions out there?
AUDIENCE MEMBER:

Can you give me your opinion on


pet washes?
MARCUS: I dont have one, but Ive talked to guys
that do and the ones that have them seem to be happy with them. Its just an addition to their self serve. I
know some guys that have converted some self serve
bays that have 5 or 6 self serve bays and are in a
market where they only need 3 or 4. I know some
guys that have divided some bays up and put one in.
It affords them to be able to have full time attendant.
I think any time you can add an attendant, I know
thats kinda old school from back when I was first

SECWA Roadies tour Xtreme Clean, a


self-serve/IBA in the Atlanta area.

in the self serve market, but thats one


of the biggest things weve heard from
our customers is they like us having an
attendant. Anything you can do to add
extra services like the ice machine, the
pet wash there are guys the sell natural gas/propane at their washes anytime you can do that to add an attendant would be a help.
DALE: As I said, Im opinionated, but I dont care
for dog washes myself. Most people Ive talked to
that have done it are okay with it, but not many
people would do a second one. Its a whole different
service with some different issues to deal with there.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:
Somebody that really likes their dog wash is somebody that really cleans their dog wash. That seems
to be the deciding factor to whether they make it or
they dont. People are not going to take a family

member into a dirty dog wash. So if youre gonna


do a dog wash, you better keep it clean.
One other thing that Marcus brought up again was
the ice machines, and I see people adding these to
the self serve carwash. Theres one note of caution:
When you connect it to your water supply, as soon
as you can you should put a back-flow preventer on
it, and a back-flow preventer between the carwash
system and the ice machine system so theres no
way you can make pink ice. Because then the health
department will start checking those.
And I think were out of time (Applause)

Hamilton Manufacturing has been in business


since 1921 and in the Car Wash Industry for over
30 years. We are recognized as an industry leader in
the development, manufacturing, and support of
automated point-of-sale transaction systems; Data
Access Networks, and token/change machines.
Hamilton products are designed and built to
improve customer convenience and loyalty, while
offering contemporary technology, and durability.
PROUDLY MADE IN THE U.S.A.

For more information about our full line of


carwash products, visit us online or call:

888.723.4858
hamiltonmfg.com
HAMILTON TRANSACTION KIOSK

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY.
RUGGED CONSTRUCTION.

JANUARY 2014

89

Sign,
Sign,

Everywhere a Sign
Another SSCWN tradition were proud to continue: Re-printing useful material for new subscribers
and any of those less-than-perfectly-loyal readers
who were neglectful in maintaining their stacks of
magazines from the 1970s on. (Cmon! Get with

Got something
better?
Let us know!

the program! Every issue of SSCWN is designed to


have an infinite shelf-life! Just dont let the Hoarders camera crew find your secret stash...)
In an attempt to take advantage of SSCWNs
and ACFs shared ownership, we thought wed

Come on in the
waters fine.

E-mail katec@sscwn.com and see your cleverness heralded in our pages in an upcoming issue.

From renowned operator and revered


SSCWN contributor (not to mention
former ICA president) Lisa Lyons:

Your dirt
is our
business.

Satisfaction guaranteed
or your dirt back.

Take a bite
out of grime.

Your wife called and said


to wash the car.

tap into our online archives on the autocareforum.com site and encouarge readers to rediscover some oldies but goodies, starting with our
most popular slogans for your carwash reader/
message board sign.

Is your car living


a clean life?

Blame us for that


washed up look.

Your dirt goes down the drain like


your money in Washington D.C.

And a few selections from our esteemed forum members


Earl Weiss:

JMMUSTANG:

Wash & dry here. No ironing.

Our vacuums really suck!

Audiosnow46:

PackerSCW:

Clean cars go far!

Hop in line for a wash n shine.

I dont want to be seen until


you wash me clean!

Dirty cars = Rusty cars.

A clean car is a happy car.


Waxman:

When in doubt, vac it out.

Wash it up before you go go.

Dont ignore a sandy floor.

Dirty cars wanted.

Free carwash ...tomorrow.

Splish splash! Wow, this wash


is fast!

Clean cars run better.


Improve your image; wash
today!
Youll feel better in a clean car.

JANUARY 2014

Dont get caught riding dirty!


Chicks dig a mean, clean
machine.

Dirty car got you down? Wash


it off and lose that frown!

90

Drop by for suds and still


be able to legally drive!

We take pride in your ride.


Dirts nightmare ahead.

JANUARY 2014

91

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