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VOL. 42, NO. 3, FALL 2015

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CONTENTS Insurance Q&A .......................4 Think Like a Criminal.........8 Tricks of the Trade ..............17 Industry Dirt..........................26 Extra! Extra! ...........................28 Veterans in Our Mist ..........34 Fall Show Round-Up ............56 Walls Walls Walls..................71 Darwin at the Carwash .....92

VOL. 42, NO. 4, FALL 2015

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

All inquiries should be directed to:

Self Serve Car Wash News 110 Childs Ln., Franklin, TN 37067 Copyright 2014. 2 Dollar Enterprises/SSCWN. All Rights Reserved


Show Me the Data! At a few different points during the educational sessions at the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention this past October it became clear that one of the biggest hurdles our industry is facing is the lack of reliable industry statistics and data. I know you’ve heard me beat this drum before -- but it’s too important an issue to ignore. For example, in a conversation about the new tax law affecting Connecticut operators, it was obvious that not even the International Carwash Association knows how many states have similar tariffs. And at one point during an educational panel discussion, I realized no one really believes the “average” bay revenues being touted by the trade magazines are truly representative of the self serve industry. That’s not to blame the ICA or any other organization or publication for our troubles collecting and analyzing data. In fact, the ICA has truly been at the front of any progress we’ve made; from their WashCount program to the consumer studies conducted every three years that give us our only verifiable and measurable glimpse into who the American car wash consumer is and isn’t. And I know firsthand that the larger trade magazines have fought hard to maintain their benchmarking surveys, year after year, in order to provide our industry with the operational and management data it so desperately craves. I think what’s really at the root of the problem is the proliferation of surveys in our day-to-day lives. You can’t go to Wal-Mart or Applebee’s or even the local Italian restaurant without being urged to use a survey code at the bottom of your receipt. Mystery shoppers abound and your opinion suddenly means everything -- and nothing -- to these companies that have hired large armies of customer service representatives to Tweet and post and survey. In fact, you may even be using such tactics at your car wash. The problem is, of course, that because we are asked for our opinion at every transaction, we more than likely end up offering no opinion at all. In this quest to know more about our customers and how to better serve them, I think we’re forgetting some other methods of taking our business’s pulse and temperature. To wit: How many of you are tracking the services in your bay? How many

of you know the average time spent using the handheld dryer as opposed to the foaming brush or spot-free rinse? Your customer might be able to tell you how she feels when she drives on the car wash lot -- and she might even be able to guesstimate at how she spends her time there, but a simple meter installed in your equipment room might tell a few more (non-fiction) chapters of her story. Another simple test? Take a page from Dan Callihan of Glen Burnie Car Wash in Glen Burnie, MD, who presented during the NRCC as part of a panel discussion with other stellar self-serve operators. Dan has made a practice of listing the improvements he’s made over the years at his car wash and then tracking that against revenues and expenses. It’s a simple idea -- and certainly not foolproof -- but I don’t know many other operators who are as diligent and organized as Dan presented his information to be. So much of our industry is anecdotal evidence passed on from operator to operator, generation to generation. We have a few face-to-face interactions with our customers and we think we can guess the rest. I’m as guilty of this as the next guy. Because I’m a suburban mother, I think I can tell you all there is to know about all the other suburban mothers. Just a few conversations at the suburban mom watercooler tell me this isn’t true. I think we all use express exteriors because they’re easy, I think we’re all shopping for a bargain, I think we all like to buy the tri foam for the pretty colors -it’s not true. At least not from what they’re telling me at the watercooler. And so I ask you: Start paying attention. Start collecting your data. Start crunching the numbers. And if you have a spare moment, please consider taking our survey. You’ll find the link at www. in the SSCWN section. I can’t offer you a raffle prize drawing, but I assure you, our five question survey won’t take more than five minutes of your time. And it just might provide some valuable information to help you better direct and manage your carwash.

Happy washing!


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QA &

with Insurance


We address two reader questions regarding insurance issues. Is my son/daughter covered by my Homeowners policy while at school? ANSWER DAN THARP, RWCS, VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES, INSURANCENTER: Remember when you went off to college…loading up the family car with just a couple of boxes to take to school. Those days are long gone! Now, students bring laptops, televisions, bicycles, musical instruments, cell phones and other digital devices into their new dorm rooms. And while we want to believe that Junior is incredibly responsible, the truth is, he or she is bound to forget to lock their dorm door at least once or forget their backpack somewhere — and his or her laptop may get stolen. Or they may leave their belongings unattended in the library while they take a phone call. Or burn popcorn in the microwave and set off sprinklers, causing water damage to his or her computer and a panicked call to Dad. (That’s a true story— happened to a “friend”). It’s time to refresh the insurance considerations that a college student—away from home—brings. The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends creating a “dorm inventory.” Keep a list of all of the items the student will bring to school, along with their estimated value. You can download the free app “Know Your Stuff” to itemize belongs at Following are 4 common Homeowners’ and Auto questions that arise when a student leaves home for college.

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1) Does a Homeowners’ policy provide coverage for college students? A parent/guardian’s Homeowners’ insurance policy does provide some coverage for a student who is away at school – but it’s limited. The common Homeowner’s form (ISO #HO 00 03) extends the definition of “insured” to: “A student enrolled in school full time, as defined by the school, who was a resident of your household before moving out to attend school, provided the student is under the age of 24 an 21 and in your care or the care of” your residents of your household who are relatives.” This is where you need to be careful. A student may start a semester as a full-time student, but dropped a class or two over the course of that semester. Or the student may have turned 24 years old during the semester or be in grad school—at which point coverage may no longer apply.

2) What type of insurance coverage is provided for college students? Coverages extended to applicable college students under a Homeowners’ policy are: s Coverage C - Personal Property: provides coverage for personal property owned or used by an insured while it is outside of the home. However, the limit of insurance is generally speaking somewhere around $1,000. Note

that coverage does not apply if the student’s dorm has been unoccupied for more than 60 consecutive days. In other words, if Junior leaves his belongings in his dorm room over the summer, and comes back to find his television missing, coverage would not apply. s C o v e rage E – Personal Liability: covers the student for legal defense costs or coverage from an accident (excluding auto, boat or aircraft) that causes bodily injury or property damage. Their college kids use your imagination here. s Coverage F – Medical Payments: This provides for the medical expenses of others because of bodily injury occurring at the student’s dwelling.

3) Will the student live on or off campus? If your college student doesn’t live in college-owned housing, an insured’s Homeowners’ policy may not provide coverage. Insurance issues arise depending on if the child is in a dorm, apartment or rented house. “These variables, especially for older students, can impact your current protection and dictate a need to modify your policy or purchase a new one.” And find out how many roommates Junior will have—insurance companies need to know this for coverage considerations. To avoid on-again/ off-again insurance issues, a separate Renters’ policy for college students may be necessary. {continued }

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QA &

with Insurance

4) Will the student take a car to college? If so, does the parent/guardian own it or is the car in the student’s name? An insurance agent must be made aware of the new garaging address—if the student attends college in a less populous area, it may save the insured money. Your agent should be able to advise you on minimum insurance requirements for out of state students. If the student is not taking a car to school, it may not be the best choice to remove the child from an existing Auto policy to reduce cost. Keeping the child listed on the Auto policy ensures coverage during school breaks and also provides coverage if he or she drives a friend’s car at school. Dan is licensed in all states (except Alaska & Hawaii) and is the Vice President of Sales for The Insurancenter. Dan has been assisting business owners protect their operations, customers and employees for over 25 years. For questions regarding this article or other insurance matters he can be reached at DTharp@theinsurancenter. com or by calling 800-444-8675.

How can I reduce the risks associated with handling and using chemicals at my car wash? ANSWER MIKE BENMOSCHE, CAR WASH PROGRAM SPECIALIST AT MCNEIL & CO.: At McNeil & Co., we work to educate our clients about the risks associated with chemicals, prepare them for unusual circumstances and prevent catastrophe from happening. McNeil & Co.’s recommendations for reducing the risks associated with chemicals at the car wash include: s Car wash employees should wear appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) at all times. s When exposed to corrosive chemicals, employees should wear medium to heavyweight neoprene, natural rubber viton or niterile gloves. McNeil & Co. highly recommends gauntlet gloves. Latex gloves should


not be worn, as they will not provide adequate protection. s Employees should wear acid-resistant aprons and waterproof, steel-toed boots to protect against accidental chemical spills and guard against unexpected injury to the feet from the weight of a container. s Goggles or a full-face shield are recommended. Safety glasses are not acceptable since they do not protect chemicals from accidentally entering one’s eyes from the bottom or the top of the glasses. s Understand the chemical exposure. s Most chemicals will come with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which includes vital information about the chemical risks and how to work safely around these substances. McNeil & Co. recommends storing these documents in a plastic sleeve attached to the hoses or chemical container so that they are readily accessible. In case of an emergency, they can be easily taken out to bring to the emergency facility to assist the medical personnel with instructions on proper treatment procedures. A binder should also be kept in a conspicuous area so employees have them available at all times. s Chemical labels must be properly positioned so they are always visible for quick reference. McNeil recommends placing the label on the top of the container for easy viewing.

s Anyone designated to handle these substances should participate in a full chemical review with the manufacturer’s representative. s Safely store chemicals. s The equipment room where chemicals are stored should be well ventilated, and containers should not be overstacked. s Certain chemicals are not compatible and may combust when stored near each other. Car wash owners and operators should be aware of these chemicals and be sure to store them far away from each other. s To prevent potential freezing, chemicals should be raised above the floor level. s Safely move chemicals. s Chemicals at the car wash are often stored in 55 gallon drums, which can pose many hazards. These containers should be tightly closed to prevent spillage. s When moving these heavy containers, McNeil & Co. recommends using drum trucks or pail trucks, which are better equipped to handle the weight than hand trucks. This will help prevent the containers from falling on someone and will also reduce the risk of back injuries. s Car wash owners should work with the chemical’s manufacturer to determine the proper disposal procedure for each substance. s Old and empty containers should be stored in a secure area to prevent them from being stolen or taken without permission. Some of these drums may pose a threat if they previously contained a corrosive substance. Under these circumstances, it is possible the car wash owner may be held responsible for any injuries that may occur as a result. s Have first aid ready. s All facilities should have appropriate first aid kits available, an approved eye wash station and an emergency action plan. s All eye wash stations should have a minimum of 15 minutes of continuous water flow to comply with OSHA requirements. s Employees should avoid working with chemicals alone. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could be very difficult to take care of oneself and safely get medical assistance.

McNeil & Co. is a nationwide leader in specialized insurance programs, drawing on deep industry expertise to develop and deliver policies and risk management services that meet the unique needs of clients. For more information about McNeil & Co., visit For more information about McNeil’s Car Wash Insurance Program, visit

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Think Like a Criminal! Preventing theft and improving security at the self serve car wash. by Heather Ashley The following article is adapted from a presentation given at Northeast Regional Carwash Convention.

As owners, we all have the same concerns about theft and security at our wash locations. In order to truly understand how to prevent theft, we need to learn more about criminals. Once you do, you can start to anticipate and prevent the criminal’s next move. Mike and I have owned our three self service carwash locations for over 12 years. We also own two laundromats. In that time we have experienced several break-ins; including a very timely one that happened the day before this year’s Northeast Regional Carwash Convention! (It seems to happen before any travel event.) Mike has over 10 years of experience as deputy Sheriff and his dad was a retired Virginia State Police Agent. Mike learned a lot in his younger years including a special skill for thinking like a criminal. Crime has many causes and so does theft. Many believe you see an increase in crime when and where there is a decline in morals and values. The breakdown of core family values, society glamorizing crime, human dysfunction and poverty all are root causes. Theft itself means that one takes property that belongs to someone else. They want what they believe we have. Keeping in mind that they are wanting to take something from us as owners, you need to be aware of your environment. We tend to have a low level of awareness when we are in the confines of our daily routine. A moderate level of awareness should be had when you are in a familiar area (such as your business) but there are people you do not know (customers, etc.). If your business is heavily populated and there is an exchange of money happening then you need what we would describe as a “high level of awareness.” In terms of preventing a crime, anticipation and recognizing there is a risk is key. Crime prevention is proactive rather than reactive. Proactive actions are meant to prevent the crime in the first place. Reactive actions take place after the crime has occurred. Any business owner in any industry should have a mental plan of preparedness. We should have in our minds a plan if they are physically present when the crime occurs. This plan should also be shared with others that work alongside you. The best plan is not to resist; this may be contrary to how you would like to act -- but it is the safest course of action. Regardless of your plan, you should be prepared and know that the consequences of your actions could be prosecution or civil lawsuit.

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There is a long standing triangle of crime prevention that law enforcement investigators have used for years with good success. Any part of the three components could result in crime If all three are true, then it is only a matter of time before crime occurs. They include desire, ability, and opportunity. Take away any or all of them and you have reduced the chances that a crime will be committed.

Another prevention technique is something called the four D’s: Deter, Detect, Delay, Deny. Another prevention technique is something called the four D’s: Deter, Detect, Delay, Deny. All of us can think of ways to deter crime at our wash; many of us already have cameras in place to detect, but there are other options that can be used in addition to cameras. Just delaying a criminal's exit by making it harder to get what they are after could be enough to deter a crime. And finally, if you can make your car wash so secure that they cannot gain entry or take anything, then you have denied them access. Be proactive. Learn more about the elements of crime and keeping abreast of crimes that have been happening in the industry. Do your homework. Also, learn to read your environment by focusing and paying attention to certain details. If we could cut out the “opportunity” or a crime to happen then we would be able to reduce crime. Some good examples of opportunity crimes that happen to wash owners include: s doors that were left unlocked, s inadequate lighting, s landscaping that blocks the view of cameras, s a building layout/design which provides access to vulnerable areas, and s incorrectly installed cameras. You would be shocked to learn just how we overlook these key things as the years go by. There are prevention resources. Don’t forget that there are neighborhood watches for businesses. Also your own association might offer crime alerts via email. If none of these are in your area, consider reaching out and talking to or leaving a message for others if you have information on the types of recent crimes in your area. Connecting with your competition at least in that one area can save you lots of money. Whatever you do, make sure you report all crimes -- this includes tampering, which may not show that a theft has occurred, but instead that a criminal has been checking out your business and looking for signs of weakness.

Look for marks on doors from crow bars or scuff marks in secured areas that may indicate someone has been trying to break in. Think about your daily routine. Do you have a checklist of items to look for and make notes of any changes? For example, checking all of the locks and making note of any new marks on a diagram. Do you walk a certain path, take note of customers versus strangers that are hanging around, and use a critical eye to identify areas of vulnerability. Check out the downloadable checklist for wash owners available on So who is a criminal? A criminal could be an employee, a neighbor, a stranger, your friend or family member, a business partner, a customer -basically, anyone. We have even seen parents bring their children along for the theft. A criminal predator has several characteristics including low self esteem. They have selfish attitudes, lack a conscience or mercy, view kindness as weakness, they blend in well, appear innocent and they constantly seek attention to achieve a criminal goal. Sadly, most of the time they look like us. Then there is the criminal no one wants to talk about. The person who runs the business alongside you whether it be a partner or manager. We trust them and it seems as though they would never steal from us. However, small thefts that they may not see as a problem will add up and eventually lead to higher level crimes. Just a couple wash tokens to wash a personal vehicle, a few quarters everyday for the vending machine and soon you are convinced that skimming off the top of the day's deposit so you and your partner can go to lunch seems like a great idea. Do your best to create an environment of honesty. For example, writing down when change is taken for a drink and keeping a running total. Also beware of those employees who never take a vacation. A recent study showed that those who never take vacation are often so into managing the business that they do not want someone else seeing the numbers while they are out. Your first indication as to a problem should be low deposits and lack of increasing deposit totals. Another would be a higher than normal utility bill. Additional ways to implement internal controls to prevent embezzlement types of crime include screening all the applicants before hiring. Also giving a second look to the bank accounts to see if there is anything unusual. Monitor those utility bills to make sure your usage is matched in profits. Take precautions with payroll and make it so that two people are used in the process. Have two people sign off on all checks. {continued }

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Think Like a Criminal Other methods to employ so that you have an honest work environment include letting them see and know about the systems in place. Inventory control , receiving forms, purchasing forms and rules, bookkeeping policies and a method for cash disbursements. Encourage them to participate in writing down information that you later review. Then make sure they know you have reviewed it. Surveillance with cameras is a large portion of lessening the threat of harm to your business. But rest assured that it is not the only method and even we do not have them at all of our rural locations. If you do have them, make sure they are installed properly and in focus. Review you camera footage even when there is not a crime as criminals sometimes change the angle or tamper with the camera in advance. Of course you want to be able to view your live cameras on your smartphone. And ďŹ nally, learn how to extract footage onto a ash drive before there is a need. Practice and write down simpliďŹ ed directions then tape

them to the system! Surveillance has many parameters but there are several key objections no matter if you have cameras or not. Having better lighting is a must. Any windows in your business need to face the road and not be obscured with signs. Mot that the police are lazy, but this makes it easier to see into your business as they drive by. Locate staff to monitor high risk areas . Cash registers should be at the front. Any fencing should be see through so you can see if someone is lurking. Also, make sure your bushes and shrubs (thorny shrubs add an extra level of protection) are not too large so as to hide a person or area from your camera. Take note of the types of doors at your facility. For example, if exterior hinges are not recommended for doors as they can be easily removed and then they simply take your door off. If you have glass in your door or if it is a special door that is not a steel door, consider and roll down door or bars for extra night protection. A simple addition to any door is a peep hole. Ours has come in handy while working at the wash. There are many lock choices on the market, but most all can be broken. As the saying going “locks only keep the honest people out.� Secure metal plates in front of door locks so that criminals cannot try to pry or jimmy their way in. And don’t forget the windows should have an extra locking system in place with special rods that prevent sliding windows from being opened. Regular windows can be

secured with a dowel pin to prevent opening. With so many locks available you really need to research and ďŹ nd what others have found effective. We can never talk enough about lighting and I am not sure you can get too much lighting. Solar lights are now allowing us to bring light to any location no matter how small. Motion detection lights have continued to be a great option as well for those dimly lit corners where customers should not be. Security alarms are something most owners invest in right away. However, some systems are olders and yet others are so basic that they are really of minimal use. Try thinking in different ways. Apply window sensors to the change machines so that the moment the unit is moved, the alarm will sound. Audible alarms are still the best choice. Smaller components can help you monitor when coins are low in a changer by sending you a message with an auto dialer. In one case, that was the ďŹ rst indication that a unit was removed as the motion sensor caused the alarm to go off next. Finally, look at your alarm keypad. Make sure the alarm code is not evident from the dirty keys used most frequently. Clean the keypad. Cybercrime has taken on new meaning for those of us in the carwash industry. Did you know that there are now fake suppliers pretending to be a legit company? While fraud and identity theft are always common, there is the chance you will be caught up in an online auction fraud. Using a rep{continued }

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Its features are many. Here are just a few: Quick Learn™ On Board Programming Single and multi-coin programming Programmable for Multiple Currencies Programmable for up to ͳʹ diơerent coins Universal siœe - one siœe Ƥts all High speed, multi-coin acceptance up to ͳͲ cps New, revolutionary coin discrimination techniques Highly critical and unique coin path design which virtually eliminates the possibility of coin jams. Maximum fraud coin rejection For more information on the MICROCOIN® QL contact Hi-Performance Wash Systems or one of the distributors listed below. Advanced Car Wash Systems – GA JE Adams – IA National Pride Equipment – OH Auto Wash Concepts – CA Jim Coleman Company – TX Ryko – IA Dultmeier – NE Kleen-Rite – PA U-Wash Equipment – IL Etowah Valley – NC Laurel Metal Products, Inc. – IL Water Conservation Services – CA Fragramatics – AR Mark VII – CO Windtrax - KS

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Think Like a Criminal utable service like eBay and choosing Paypal for payments will provide some protection, but you can still have problems. Your best bet is to talk with others and find a friend who also dabbles in auctions/online ordering. Good business people have been duped. Learn from their mistakes. On-line classified ads are great avenues for fraud and murder. The criminal starts out by asking if your product is still available then asks you to hold it for them. They then offer to wire you the money. I am reminded of the time when I thought I had found the perfect motorcoach. The person could not send me any more pictures because it was in storage (should have been a red flag) but it was in wonderful condition and looked to be wrapped in plastic film to protect the paint. Trouble is, it was not his to sell and was a picture that he had stolen from another site. Do you due diligence in these matters and if you decide to proceed with a sale, tell someone your plan before the meeting and choose a public space. Google “Craigslist murder” and you will see a list of reasons why need to be careful. Bringing them to your place of business might just have them returning later to take whatever they want. Metal theft is very common in our area. For a while the melt down price was great and many of us were cleaning up our places, but the criminals were cleaning up too. One of our friends had his car wash grate stolen. Talk about dangerous. Not many of us have a spare so he was down a few days

Make sure the alarm code is not evident from the dirty keys used most frequently. Clean the keypad. while another custom one was made. The most shocking crime of the decade has got to be the new cybersquatting. Do you have a website? Do you own your own .com site? A man in our town explained his new “business.” He finds local folks who do not have a web presence. He buys the website that represent their business name because it is a free country and you can buy any name you want, not just your own. He makes them a website site without their knowledge and then goes to them and “offers” to sell his services. We later learned that when a local food vendor



could not afford his service (it seemed overly priced) he became irate and proceeded to pose as the business with fake pictures of customers, a fake menu, and even running daily fake specials. It was like cyber extortion and current laws are not in place to protect you. Her only possible solution would have been if he used a copyrighted logo. Secure all the basic internet extensions association with your business name today. (Email me if you would like further advice on this matter.) Finally, the Internet has changed everything. YouTube has become the go to place for coin operated crimes. They even give tricks for getting free carwashes! Sadly, when news channels post real crime video, it often gives other criminals ideas. When it is saved to YouTube it can be reposted shared, paused and learned from. However, we can learn from them as well. Take a moment to look up “free car wash” and see what the results reveal. Staying knowledgeable about these scams might be frustrating and aggravating to the honest, hardworking car wash owner -- but it will also allow you to “think like a criminal” and in turn anticipate and prevent similar crimes at your car wash. This article is based on a presentation given by Mike and Heather Ashley at the NRCC Convention 2016. The Ashleys are both private investigators with Commonwealth Investigation Services which specialize in theft and security issues. They are also owners of three wash locations and two coin laundromats. Both Mike and Heather are active with the Mid-Atlantic Carwash Association with Heather being the current President and Mike a former president.


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Presenting some of the best discussions of the self serve industry’s headaches and solutions from ACF. You can find more discussions like these on

Saving a few $$ with Zoro Tools cfcw: I know we are all trying to save money. I just wanted to make you guys aware of Zoro tools. You may have seen them advertising a lot on ebay. If you are not familiar with them, they are owned by Grainger and carry Grainger’s most popular products. Although pricing is usually the same or a little less than grainger, the savings over Grainger comes in several ways. 1)Orders over $50 ships free, and so far my orders have shipped very quickly. 2) Unlike Grainger (which has a physical presence in my State) Sales tax is not applied to my order. 3) The biggest savings is for those who can plan their purchases. Get on their email list. Every 6-8 weeks they will have a 20% off flash sale. It is usually good for one day. I just bought some delineator posts for my water wizards. About every threefour months they will have a 30% off sale. They have very competitive prices on some items, and an additional 30% can make them a real deal. Some guys on a forum I go to ( are buying Miller welders. with the 30% off sales and Miller

washnvac: I have bought 3 rinnai water heaters with the 30% off flash sale.(as well as countless other items--motors, procon pumps, plumbing supplies) That brings it to $851 with free shipping. My plumbing/heating guy said the lowest he gets them is $1100. Have had awesome experiences with Zoro. I would highly recommend. mjwalsh: We have also received some good deals from Zoro ... especially when I was prepared & ready to pounce for one of those flash 3 hour or one day promo codes. On some items I sprung for the next level of a specific product because of the promo. Like the time we upped for the stainless version of the Xlerator hand dryer for the rest room we have for our customers during a 30% off 3 hr promo plus free shipping! slash007: I first found them when I needed to replace my Rheem storage tank. They already had the best price, then I got an additional 20% off. I have used them several times since then and all my orders arrive the next day! cfcw: By the way guys, if trying to fill your cart to reach a discount or shipping threshold, try these Knipex pliers. Made in Germany & my favorite... cfcw: Got an email this morning from Zoro20% off a purchase of 250.00 or more. Valid until Sept 9th enter code LABORDAYSALE at checkout JMMUSTANG: This is my big secret. Greg why you want to tell the world for. Last week I bought a billy goat vacuum that normally sells for $1400. Got it shipped to my door with no tax and free shipping in 3 days and 20% off . You can’t beat that. I make a list of items and wait for discount special.

rebates they are getting quite a good deal. I’ve found electric motors, relays, flashlights, hardware, sump pumps, and quality knipex and proto hand tools, etc. All at better than amazon pricing. Not everything is competitively priced , so do your shopping. Also, their search engine sucks. Manufacturer part numbers usually don’t work. Often a search with the grainger part number will bring up the same item. Anyway, check them out at

They have also the jim coleman carpet shampoo pump for $129 and I wait for 30% discount to get them for $85. I buy tool, compressor oil, grease, acid sprayer. Be patient for the 30% it come every 3 -4 months. 20% happens every month. Kleen-rite and other vendors should be nervous. The billy goat vacuum is an awesome machine for cleaning carwash lot. I have to start a new thread. mjwalsh: vinh, You mentioned tax-free. In our state of north dakota, being a business ... there are state tax department auditors ... who are on standby to audit & make sure you pay the equivalent plus as if sold in the state. The reason I say not just equivalent, but also “plus” is because the auditor in our case went back 7 years & charged us 12% compounded interest. I suppose we should be thankful we did not have an exorbitant “ignorance of the law” fine in addition ... but there are limits to our gratitude. JMMUSTANG: Bought 250’ Self Regulating Heat Cable and some accessories from Zoro yesterday. Price was around $1,100 before using the LABORDAYSALE code ended up at $809 but was charged $34.26. Tax or no tax I couldn’t be happier. Thanks guys for bringing this site and code to our attention. wash4me: I believe they are owned by Grainger and even ship from the same warehouses. GoBuckeyes: I have bought a few things from Zoro in the past year or so such as Federal Signal sounders for my in-bay. With the free shipping they were the cheapest I could find. Slash, thanks for the heads up on the Rheem storage tank. I just

used the Labordaysale promo myself and ordered one, $756 out the door...can’t beat that! cfcw: They are owned by Grainger. The last shipment I got from them was in Grainger-labeled boxes. I usually get my order in two days. mjwalsh: We have ordered from who also sent their product in Grainger labeled boxes. It seems like other companies besides Amazon use some kind of a third party marketplace which may explain the boxes??? I notice even Walmart & Best Buy have some kind of association with all sorts of companies so they are included in administration & profit from some sales???. Just to clarify about the sales tax audit that we experienced. Some states both have & enforce what is called “use tax” ... that way “presence in the state” does not stop the auditor from doing his thing later on ... even several years down the road. Earl Weiss: I ordered a shampoo machine little Giant Pump from Drill spot after an internet search. for lowest cost. Came in a Grainger box. Why does Grainger do this? They are 10 minutes from me. They would have made more money charging me what Drillspot charged instead of only getting the lesser amount they got from Drillspot. Recently bought a Square D relay needed in a hurry from Grainger. Zoro and other on line sources were $31.00 I know where to get the next ones. MEP001: Grainger is primarily in the business to supply other companies. They do over-thecounter sales but the vast majority of their sales is to contractors and other retailers. They give massive discounts to their larger accounts - we used to {continued } ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


Saving a few $$ with Zoro Tools get 65% off list on motors. mjwalsh: We very recently here in Bismarck had a Harbor Freight Outlet set up a good sized store within a few miles of us. I actually was somewhat impressed by their selection of different items that could be useful to us car wash operators. The brands are not that familiar so I am not sure about the quality. We bought some varibits that were way less expensive than at the electrical distributorships here in town but have not had a chance to put them through a test yet. Any car wash operators willing to go out on a limb bragging about Harbor Freight??? Another item that we bought that had a good price was a nifty versatile vise for our drill press. Earl Weiss: If I want a basic item that gets occasional use I like Harbor Freight stuff. I weigh quarters on a Harbor freight scale, keep change in a Harbor freight Safe, use open end wrench sets from them - Never had one break. I have some Vises and bench top grinders, screwdrivers grinding wheels, Blade type electrical fittings, nylon wire ties, step type drill bits, Cobalt bit sets, and I am sure some other stuff as well. Randy: Harbor Freight sells mostly junk, I’ve got a store not far from my house. It’s normally the last place I go for anything. If I need a tool for a one time use and I’ll never use again or I’m

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going to toss it after I’ve used it than I might buy something there.

txheat: (in reference to the billygoat post) Use a backpack husqvarna backpack blower.

cfcw: TODAY ONLY Sept 22nd 30% off a $300.00 purchase or 25% off $175 purchase enter coupon code STEPUPSALE at checkout. If anyone wants a welder, They have competitive prices on Miller 211 Welders, and the %30 off makes them a bargain. Plus Miller is offering a rebate program: landing/build-with-blue/files/pdf/Build-WithBlue-Rebate.pdf

vinh: I been using the backpack blower for 10 years. A wise carwash owner told be about the billy goat and now I am hooked. Bought another billygoat with 30% coupon code. I have a lot of trees at my locations and it takes time to blow them to a pile and bag them. The billygoat save time, bags and is much cleaner. I also like to use the billy goat in the corners in the bays and around the vacs. It picks up all the sand and rock debris. So much of my life has been wasted. That Milwaukee 12V 3/8 ratchet is my most used tool. It saves time in changing motors and taking off and putting on spray tips. No more scraping your knuckles when changing drive motor.

I’m thinking about a Pelican Cooler. Some of their models are priced competitively, others are not...... Ric: I’m thinking about a Pelican Cooler. Some of their models are priced competitively, others are not... Thanks! Ordered some Raychem heat cables. cfcw: I’ve got a effluent pump that is old and going out. It is working intermittently right now. I bought a replacement dayton branded 1/2 HP sump pump, AND a Milwaukee fuel 12V 3/8” ratchet set up, another pair of knipex pliers, and a pelican single AAA light I like to keep in my pocket. Total price for all the goodies delivered with discount was 373.23 If I had walked into my local grainger and bought just the very same effluent pump by itself, it would have cost 423.00 with tax.

cfcw: I thought I would grab one and try it after you bragged on yours so much. I’ve got a big impact wrench but I could have used this little one when replacing the starter on my truck. I think it worked out to 120.00 with discount. txheat: For tools goto toolbarn

Dumpster Service copperglobe: Call me un-attentive. Recently I learned how much we were paying for our dumpster service with Waste Management. Been with them for 25 years and little by little they’ve raised my price to $375 per month for every other week dumping (no, I don’t pay the bills- secretary does all that). Unreal. I got bids from a couple of other services and they’re quoting me $70 per month for the same thing- saving $305 per month with no contract. Also, I learned this week, that Waste Management automatically renews my contract for three years if I don’t cancel it during a

“window” toward the end of my three-year contract. Do it in writing, certified mail, mailed to an office in Colorado - is what they require. Also, if I want to cancel my contract early there is a penalty of 6 months’ worth of charges. In other words, $2,250! Lesson Learned: watch your monthly dumpster fees and keep track of your contract. Anyone have any other alternatives to the normal dumpster services out there? Anyone have their own dump trailer, roll-off dumpsters, etc?

chaz: That can’t be right. Is It???? I pay 80$ a month for weekly pickup. I was paying a bit more for a 6yd, but negotiated a few bucks less for an 8yd. I learned not to request an occasional extra pickup, even though the truck passes my place everyday they charged me 75$ for the extra dump.

mrfixit: It also gets expensive when you find out another shady business has been dumping 1/4 of a dumpster or more of their business garbage in your dumpster every week. So watch the contents if its not locked up. My lord they really stick it to you 350 for two pick-ups.

copperglobe: It’s correct. $375 for every other week. Plus extra pickup is $200. Again, Waste Management.

MEP001: They may offer you a low initial rate but they’ll increase it over time until you’re paying as much as you were before. BTDT. Look for a contract that guarantees no price increase. chaz: And then there is the fuel surcharge. Another way to make a bit more $ especially with the current fuel pricing. At least I have a cap on that fee.

Jim L.: When I first opened Waste Management tried that 3 year contract with me too and threatened to sue me for breaking it. My lawyer wrote them a letter stating a contract is a 2 way street... they pick up the trash and I would pay the bill. They picked up their dumpster never to be heard from again.

Car_Wash_Guy: I’m about $115/mo for a 6yd from WM with weekly pickup Eric H: Ask them to get you a copy of the contract

you signed 25 years ago and/or the signed contract that states automatic 3 year renewal on it. If they cannot produce the signed contract then i would think it would be hard for them to enforce the early cancellation clause. JMMUSTANG: I have never signed a contract for trash pickup. They drop off the dumpster and then send me the contract and I never sign it. They call me for it back (signed) and I tell them that I will pay the amount they quoted or they can pick the dumpster up. They play hardball over the phone for a month or two but never have they picked up the dumpster. Randy: In the state of Washington there are no garbage contacts. Garbage service is regulated by the state. We have Waste Connections and we {continued p.25}


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At my wits end with tankless water heaters. Need help from those who use them. lighthousecarwash: So I’ve posted a couple threads about tankless boilers for my floor heat and tankless water heaters for my auto, but I am still not sure I know which route to take. First of all, the floor heat is going to be on hold as I think it’s getting too close to winter to start tinkering with floor heat. Here is my issue with the hot water and what my opinions are. Tell me if I’m on track or way off base. 1. I want to install a dedicated tankless water heater for my new Razor. I think this will be an easy fit because I can mount one of these units on the wall about 2 feet away from the pumping station. This should provide almost instant hot water to the auto. I’m looking at an AO Smith 540 (199,000 btu)unit that I believe is actually a Takagi. I have the option of adding a second Razor if this one gets too busy. I would put the second pumping station in the same vicinity of the tankless water heater. I’m hoping that by doing this, I can utilize the same tankless unit to feed both autos as it’s only the solutions that will be hot and should not require that much GPM. I’m hoping for solutions around 120-130 degrees. The whole gray area with these things are the temperature rise and the GPM. With my current system with a boiler and 75 gal holding tank, none of that is a problem. I have ample reserve of hot water as the boiler catches up. So is a 6.6-10 GPM system enough to raise the temperature 70-80 degrees and not run out of water supply. If the demand is too much for the WH to supply that much of a temperature rise, then do I just get lower temperature water, or do I get lesser flow and still the same temp of water. I don’t want to starve any pumps. What say you?

Eric H: I have a similar setup to this but using 2 199k btu Navian units. The system has more than enough capacity to provide hot water all day long BUT it simply does not work to supply the hot water holding tank. When the float valve drops the cold water in the pipe begins to fill the holding tank while the burner takes a few second to turn on. Then, by the time the hot water reaches the holding tank the float has already filled the tank part way. What ends up happening is that the 120º water that you are trying to get is diluted by colder water so you end up with 100º water and then by the time it gets out to the bays the water has lost a couple more degrees. Go with the 6 gal tank and a circ pump or the new Navian units have a small circulator pump in them that you could use and just add a 6 gal tank to the return line. OR Check out this thread: Be sure to read 2biz’s reply, it ‘s the third one. If I were to do it again this is the way I would do it! 2biz reply from earlier thread: I just had one of these delivered yesterday. Its the best unit I could find online. SS Tank, 199K BTU Modulating-condensing...The one I purchased was the PH199-55. It’s a 55 gallon tank style and has a 300GPH heating capacity at 80° temp rise (130° set temp). The capacity increases by about 100 gallons if you temper the water back to 100-110° which I plan on doing. More than enough for my 4 bay, but hopefully it’s the last time I’ll ever have to do this...

This is the best place I found to purchase. It came packaged very good on a pallet. Shrink wrapped. Not a scratch. $200 to ship. I evaluated going tankless since My Takagi is doing SO good at handling the floor heat. But I would have needed 2 tankless units wired/plumbed together to handle max load and it made much more sense to go the Phoenix route. Plus it has 2 extra

2. My self serve bays all operate out of a Magic Wand pump stand. This stand has a mixing tank for all the soap/wax solutions, and a clean hot water tank that feeds to pumps. Now my issue with this system is that the mixing tanks cool down overnight and take a little bit of time to heat up once hot water starts flowing into them. With my 75 gal holding tank, there is still a delay in hot water getting to the mixing tanks. I’ve been told that if I eliminate my boiler, that I still need to have the 75 gal holding tank with the circulation pump to keep it heated. Why? If I place 2 of the above mentioned units, only a few feet from the mixing stand, then I should be achieving the same results. I would think a few seconds of flow and we would have instant hot water. Since I have the mixing tank with clear hot water, I shouldn’t have an issue with starving the pumps because I would have 10-15 gals of hot water in that tank as a buffer. I have not done any calculations, but I think 2 units linked together should be able to support the 4 self serve bays. They will only be using hot water for the low pressure functions and the HP wax. I also was told we could go to a 6 gal holding tank and eliminate the 75 gal tank. That way we would have an instant reserve of 6 gals to get started when the mixing tank calls for water. But this would require the need for circulation pumps again, and heating that tank whenever it dropped below 115 degrees. I know I could use a timer and probably make that more efficient, but I don’t think I even need it. Ok, help me out people. What do you use and how does it work for you? In need of help!

1” ports for space-heating or for whatever you want to use them for. I’m going to use the extra ports to put a heat exchanger in the hot water float tank to keep it hot during off peak hours.... You might want to consider this route for many reasons...It’s the best I could come up with! 2Biz: If you read my post in Eric’s link, I want to clarify something. When going the HTP route, I thought it would be necessary to have a heat exchanger in the hot water float tank. So I bought an expensive SS circulator, t-stat, and designed/made an elaborate copper heat exchanger. BUT I never installed it! It wasn’t needed! CB80 suggested I was waiting my time and money....He was right! What I did do was insulate the hot water float tank with foil bubble wrap. At worst case....the hot water only cools off to the ER temperature and quickly recovers from there. Another thing to consider..Most demand heaters restrict flow to obtain the desired output temp. My takagi 199k floor heater (supposed 10gpm) only puts out 6.6 gpm at only 30-40 deg rise. That’s at 40 psi inlet pressure. Heating colder city water will cause your demand heater to perform even worse. Every manual has a chart that gives you gpm output at a given temp rise. The chart is very close. It’s all there if you do your homework. Another thing to contend with is the very small screen filter on the inlet water supply of the heater. It doesn’t take much to block flow! I ended up having to put a 5 micron filter on my floor heat return temporarily to clean the antifreeze. This was another determining factor when replacing my pump stand heater. A clogged filter would starve a pump stand! Do yourself a favor and consider a hybrid high efficient heater like the HTP I have. I couldn’t be happier with the performance and how cheap it is

to operate. Fyi. I heat the hp soap and wax cycles. The best day I ever had with my 4 bay self serve used 3500 gallons of water. I never once ran out of hot water....that is with the 55 gal tank model. lighthousecarwash: Well I’m finally starting to see the light. I think my solution is going to be 3 Navien tankless units with the built in circulation pump. I’ll plumb in a short re circulation loop right up to the mixing tank and auto and this should be able to supply hot water within a few seconds. I can also program the pump to only start circulating at a certain time so it won’t keep the pipe hot all night. Am I on the right track? Have to give credit to Chris at carwashboilers also. Great guy and a wealth of information. 2Biz: Do you know how many gpm of hot water (most possible) your equipment can use at a given time? With the navian 240, 199k condensing heater, you get about 5.1 gpm at 77 deg. Temp rise. 3 of these heaters in parallel gives you little over 15 gpm heated water @ 70-80 temp rise. Is this going to be enough? lighthousecarwash: Well I calculated 18 GPM if every single hot water function was running at the same time. I’m being told that will never happen. In fact they told me 2 would be enough but I want the third one to make sure. Do you think 4 is the minimum? Soap and wax are the only HP functions with hot water and the rest, including the autos, are all low pressure. wash4me: You could install 2 and just have tees for the third so it’s prepared just in case. I have often thought this would work 90% of the time. Put {continued } ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


Dumpster Service pay $205 a month for 1.5 cu. Yd. dumpster that’s dumped twice a week or $25.62 a dump. A lot of times I have to wait for the garbage truck to come, he comes just about the time we are leaving. He never charges us more for any extra and he doesn’t say anything when dumpster has a lot of dirt in it. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way! 2Biz: Another possible option to investigate in the future. I was given the option to purchase a 2 cu yd dumpster to reduce my monthly rate. Full rate including dumpster rental was right at $100 a month, pickup once a week. I purchased the dumpster for $800. Rate went to $52 a month. Payback less than 2 years. The kicker....Since I now own the dumpster, I share/rent the dumpster to Domino’s that borders the cw for $40 month. They pay me! My total is $12 month....Explore all options! Car_Wash_Guy: Wow. Sounds like you’re getting the shaft from your state. Randy: We don’t have the option of buying our own dumpsters and there’s no way we could let any other business use our dumpsters, they are maxed out every time they are dumped. I looked into getting a bigger dumpster but the large garbage truck can’t get into the back of my lot and I’m not about to put the dumpster out front, the larger dumpsters are front load, the dumpster I have now my

dumpster is a rear load on wheels,. The garbage haulers have a monopoly on the trash hauling business. Their areas are protected by the state so other haulers can’t come in and under bid them. So I can’t buy my own garbage truck and start hauling trash, Geez! I always wanted to do that. Everyone in town is required to have garbage service, whether you want it or not. At my house the city runs the garbage pickup we have a small 30 gallon can, it’s emptied every 2 weeks, costs $29.70 a month. Turbo: 1. When I sign contracts for garbage, uniforms, alarm, etc I write: “no auto renewal” by hand by my signature. It works. 2. I separate recycling out and save significantly on that. 3. I split my 2 recycling and 1 trash dumpster with another business My net cost is $150/month for the three 2 yard dumpsters Waxman: I keep an eye on dumpster cost and tips etc. I’m at $115/mo to tip a 4 yd dumpster twice a month. Last company I had called if the bill was a couple days late. They also frequently lost my locks during tip process. I sent them a letter cancelling their service. They sent a letter back with a statement of account, listing all my late payments. (To me, late is 30 days past due). They came and picked up the dumpster and brought me 4 new locks. New company is great; some late tips but they come when I call. No collections calls, ever. They email my invoice. I also use them at my 8 plex apartment building. cdreed06: When we started there was a nation-

al company that already had the dumpster at our location. I think it was around 275 a month but not sure. We called the company to get the thing in our name and was told a rep would call us. We waited a few days and called again, and again, and again. Called the corporate office and they apologized and said the upper people would call us back. They never did. We then just found a local guy who put his 4 yard in back and dumps it twice a week for $95 a month. We left a message with the other company to pick up their dumpster which they finally did after a few weeks. Their poor business practices saved us a lot of money. We would have just kept it with them if they had contacted us back. We had no idea. mmurra: I pay the same amount every year in one annual payment. I took a 10% discount and prepaid the fee in advance for the year. I send them a check every year for the same amount, prior to getting billed. I like it that way. Helps me control my costs. Mark Randy: Thanks Mark, that give me an idea. I think call them and see about paying a year in advance and ask again about buying my own dumpster. They just replaced my dumpster a few months ago, it took 6 years for the bottom to rot out. slash007: I pay Republic Services $26/month to rent the dumpster (6yd) and then pay the city $36/month to dump it twice a week. Seems like a steal compared to what you guys are paying. For my 4yd, I only pay $24.10/month to the city.

At my wits end with tankless water heaters. Need help from those who use them. 2 floats in the tank. High float is from the tankless hot water unit and if the level gets below say 3/4 of the way down you have a second float that would be supplied from either cold water or a 50 gallon residential water heater. If you don’t want to install a second float put in an electric float and solenoid valve. Personally I would try this with one tankless and you may be surprised how infrequently the second float would come on because you have the benefit of several gallons of storage in your holding tank. 2Biz: If you are considering installing 3 demand heaters, at minimum, I would install an additional low water level solenoid or float in case of a low water situation lIke wash4me suggested. I’ve learned to never say never owning a cw. If it can happen, it will happen! I can think of many reasons why going the htp or similar route is the better choice. Have you considered it? If you have, what’s your reasoning with the decision you’ve made? Just curious? lighthouscarwash: My biggest issue is space. The equipment room is packed full and I will alleviate some of that with the new razor as it’s pumping station is half the size. But removing that big boiler and 100 gallon holding tank will free up a lot of space that I’m going to need. I’m really leaning towards 4 of the Naviens and plumbing in a recirculation loop. I have tossed around the idea of keeping the holding tank and just going to tankless for the energy savings, but there are drawbacks to that route also. Keeping my current holding tank

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would certainly be cheaper as I could probably get away with 2 or 3 tankless units since the holding tank would act as such a large buffer. Mr. Clean: I have three Navien 240s that adequately provides 120-125 degree water to six bays using a 125 gal storage tank. They handle the busiest days w/o a problem. lighthousecarwash: How many bays are you running, at what temp, and are you using any holding tanks? washnvac: At one of my locations, I use a single 199,000btu Rinnai with a boiler coil on a closed loop with an open 30 gallon storage tank to supply 9 self serve bays. Rinnai set at 160. Holding tank set to maintain 120. No issues. This was previously done by a 700,000btu propane heater. Monthly savings is about $400--quick payback. At two other locations, using a single 199,000btu Rinnai to direct feed 10 gallon holding tank for 5 s/s bays and pre-soak for one automatic. I have a low level water feed on the holding tank, in case water runs low you get another cold feed in. Rinnai can only supply 8.5 gallons at set temp. Experience has shown normally only 2 bays running hot at the same time (hp soap or hp wax) for 6 gpm. A third bay would run holding tank down by 0.5 gpm until someone switches functions; or the low level feed would maintain water in tank. Yes- possible the water drops below 120 for a short period; but very infrequent. I have been extremely happy with these set ups. wash4me: I’d be curious to know if you just

had two if that would keep up. what is a boiler coil? washnvac: Boiler coil--I may not have used the exact term. But it is a spiral, finned copper tubed thingy. It sits in the open tank. A grundfos circulator runs water through it up to the Rinnai. (closed loop). Rinnai heater coil, which in turn heats water. Tank is filled with cold water from a float. I had to do it that way at that location because it is 9 bays. This saved me money, because I do not need multiple heaters now. It defeats a little of the “on demand” concept, because I am keeping some water in a holding tank. But otherwise I may have need another heater or two. What I do know, is I am saving $300-400 per month over the old propane boiler. 2Biz: The key to saving money is going from the old dinosaur 70% or less efficient boilers to the newer condensing/modulating heaters and getting the most out of the fuel used. Whether tank style or on demand. I think my old 350k btu Jarco was about 30% efficient because the coil fins had disintegrated from condensation. So going from that to something 96% efficient is bound to save you money! Lots of $$$..... I like the idea of the heat exchanger method...basically the same thing as the htp and possibly a little cheaper. I’m still concerned about feeding a float tank with water direct from the demand heater. It also seems like a lot of plumbing/venting if you have to have multiple units. The htp was a much easier install, I’m sure.

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INDUSTRY DIRT Steve Collins has joined the Mark VII Equipment Inc. sales team and assumed responsibility for direct sales in Florida, replacing Al Cope, who is entering retirement, according to a company press release. Mark VII Equipment Inc. is the North American subsidiary of WashTec AG of Germany, the world’s largest manufacturer of vehicle cleaning systems. According to the release, Collins’ background includes sales experience and 28 years in operations management at a multi-site carwash operator. He will be based in Tampa. “I want to thank Al for his years of service to Mark VII and wish him well in his retirement,” said Larry McCarty, Mark VII’s US Direct Sales Manager. “And I want to welcome Steve to the team. His carwash management experience and proven track record in sales will make him a valuable contributor to our growth plans.” Pat Hoggan is the new Lustra® Regional Sales Manager, covering central and northern California, as well as the state of Nevada, for Cleaning Systems, Inc. (CSI) of De Pere, WI. CSI is a manufacturer of cleaning and protection chemical products, including the Lustra product line for the professional carwash industry. After proudly serving in the United States Air Force, Hogan began his career in the car wash industry in 1983, and currently resides in Orangevale, CA. “I am genuinely excited to be joining the Lustra® team. I am not only impressed by the supreme quality of our products, but by the high quality of every individual within the CSI organization. At every tier of CSI, there is a clear commitment to delivering the highest quality product, backed with top-notch service, chemistry, and technology.” Dave Krause, president and CEO of CSI, said in the release, “We are proud to welcome Pat to CSI. We are confident in his ability to deliver outstanding service to our customers across California and Nevada, and we feel his knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset to our organization.”

Mike Wiggins has joined CSI as a new sales consultant as part of the company’s “planned increased market penetration across the state of Texas.” Wiggins has over 10 years of experience in the car wash industry, having previously owned a tunnel and self-serve car wash, the press release noted. In addition, he was previously employed by a current CSI distributor offering Lustra products working with car washes across Texas. “I am excited to join the CSI team,” Wiggins said in the release. “I am passionate about providing the highest quality products and the ultimate in service to my customers, and I look forward to building lasting relationships with washes across the state.”

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Happenings In & Around Self Serve Carwashing

Dave Krause, President and CEO of CSI was quoted, “We are proud to welcome Mike to CSI. His deep commitment to service and energy for the industry and CSI products make him an exciting addition to our team.”

every county in South Carolina, forcing the displacement of thousands of residents across the state.” Autobell is a chain of full-service carwashes in VA, SC, NC and GA. It is the second largest conveyor carwash chain in the nation.

Steve Welch is the new territory accounts manager for the car care division of C. K. Enterprises Inc. “We are excited Steve has joined our car care team and believe Steve brings enormous value with his many years of experience,” said Charles Kunkel, president of C K Enterprises, in a press release announcing his hire. C K Enterprises is a manufacturer and national distributor of carwash detergents.

Stoner Inc., a manufacturer of high perfor-

G&G LED, manufacturer of LED lighting solutions for carwash and “wet environment” markets, has moved to a new 6,500-square-foot warehouse and office space in Albany, NY. Noting that the company has added “extensively” to its executive staff and released several new waterproof lines, president Jason Baright also explained the move would also improve the company’s customer service. “This move offers even greater customer and distributor support through the addition of more stock inventory, increased service staff and decreased lead and transit times,” Baright noted, adding, “We also have a much larger R&D area containing larger testing chambers, manufacturing capabilities and equipment.” Autobell Car Wash donated $1 from the sale of every Super Polyprocess and Manager’s Special carwash sold from October 12-18 to the American Red Cross to assist with disaster relief for flood victims in South Carolina. The charity fundraiser encompassed all 70 locations of the Autobell Car Wash chain throughout four states. “Currently, we are in the midst of one of the most severe and costly flooding events in South Carolina history,” stated Jason Gudzunas of the Western North Carolina Region of the American Red Cross, with which Autobell is an ongoing community partner. “Red Cross employees and volunteers are working tirelessly alongside local community groups after historic rainfall caused unprecedented flooding in

EDITOR’S NOTE: Are you participating in Grace for Vets this year? Please send us your stories, experiences and photos! If you are interested in learning more about the program, which seeks to honor and recognize veterans with free car wash services on Veterans Day each year, please visit Registration and promotional materials are absolutely free!

mance products for the home, automotive, industrial cleaning, and molding industries, has acquired Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off®. According to a press release about the acquisition, Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off® will add over 10 new environmentally friendly product offerings for professional and consumer use including patented, environmentally friendly removers for stains, adhesives, paints, varnishes, and caulks. The acquisition was finalized July 31, 2015. Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off® products will be distributed through the Stoner Inc. facilities located in Lancaster County, PA. Dr. Gregg Motsenbocker will continue an active role in future product development. “This is the next step in my professional journey, which will allow me to continue to do what I am passionate about, research and development. I am excited to be working with a company that is still young and growing and that also opens the door for me to work on the automotive side of the industry,” Dr. Motsenbocker said in the release. According to the release, Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off® uses “safe science that works to break the molecular bond of stains, adhesives, paints, varnishes, and caulks, removing the problem while maintaining the integrity of the surface they are adhered to.” Lift Off® products are biodegradable, sustainable, and contain low or no VOCs, making them safe for the environment, user, and the surfaces to which they are applied. M ötsenböcker’s Lift Off® was developed by Dr. Gregg “The Wizard” Motsenbocker in 1980. Dr. Motsenbocker holds over 50 US and foreign patents and is the recipient of the Patent & Trade Office’s Invention of the Year Award in Chemistry. Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off® products are sold nationally at Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware,and True Value.

UNITI expo, a biennial trade show for the retail petroleum sector in Europe -- including a carwash equipment exhibition -- has increased its exhibition space by adding another hall for its June 2016 event in Suttgart, Germany. According to a press release about the event, UNITI expo launched in 2014 and attracted 11,000 visitors from 92 countries, as well as 344 exhibitors from 29 countries. “The carwash & car care sector has registered the biggest growth of all areas, recording more than a 100-percent increase in exhibitor bookings compared to 2014,” the release noted. “Organizers have set a big focus on the carwash industry by bringing professionals into the discussion and working on tailor-made services.”

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EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it ... Interesting operator news and tidbits from around the industry water cooler. It was a special delivery for Canyon Car Wash in Canyon Country, CA -- but instead of soaps and spare parts, the car wash signed for a bouncing baby girl. The baby was safely delivered with the assistance of a Los Angeles County sheriff who was alerted by the father who yelled “Baby! Baby!” at the officer to get his attention before pulling into the car wash’s parking lot, where a woman -- identified only by her first name, Mariela -- gave birth in the front seat. “At first, I was trying to help the mother get comfortable but she made it very clear she didn’t want me to recline the front seat, and I certainly wasn’t about to debate anything with her,” Depu-

The long reach of the tentacle is no longer in Madison, WI, or Illinois, now that Mister Car Wash has purchased five Octopus Car Wash locations in those areas. Octopus, a well known chain of car washes founded in 1956 by John Jurkens in Rock

ty Roger Bertola said in a press release about the event. “I told them that I had to push, and he was like, ‘Just try to hold it.’ So I did, but then, I couldn’t hold it anymore,” the mother explained. The deputy helped “guide the baby on and deliver it,” according to a local news station, then tapping on the baby’s back to clear its airway. “The parents were so excited and happy. The father was jumping up and down and overjoyed,” he recalled in the release. Firefighters, paramedics and an ambulance arrived at the car wash shortly after to transport the mother and child to a local hospital where they were both reported to be in good condition.

Rain may be coming, but experts caution there’s still no practical end in sight for the California drought -- which means

Island, Illinois, was continued in operation by his sons and known for its iconic sign and -- at some locations -- three dimensional statue. Mister Car Wash is the largest conveyor car wash chain in the nation, with 157 car washes in 18 states.

there’s no end in sight for stories about car washes in the California press. We start you off with a feel good story from the San Mateo County Health System, which is proselytizing the benefits of commercial car washes to the public there -- and even sweetening the offer with $5 coupons to area car washes -- in an effort to get residents to stop washing their cars at home. The purpose is two-fold, according to the county, which explained to a local newspaper that washing vehicles at home not only wastes a significant amount of water (they estimated 150 gallons per vehicle), but also pollutes local waterways, including the San Francisco Bay. The article warned that some local governments may even levy fines against residents who pollute the storm drains. “Water is so vital to San Mateo County; it is indispensable in our daily lives and we have the good fortune to be surrounded by beautiful water on both sides. We all play a role in saving and protecting water now and for future generations, and we’re pleased to partner with 10 local car washes {continued }

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Read all about it ... Interesting operator news and tidbits from around the industry water cooler.

that are committed to reducing water use and preventing pollution,” San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley wrote in a statement. For more information about the program, visit

While the San Mateo government was out shouting the good news, Los Angeles County employees were walking around with bowed heads after a “very public drought shaming,” according to The Daily News. In a knee jerk reaction, Supervisor Don Knabe announced a proposal to limit county vehicle fleets to a once-monthly car wash and told the Board of Supervisors to reduce their car wash habits (alleged to be thrice-weekly -- an increase in frequency since Governor Jerry Brown ordered a 25 percent cut of urban water use in April) to once a week. According to the article, Los Angeles County is the largest local government in the nation and has roughly 12,500 vehicles. The County owns three car washing facilities, but only one makes use of recycled water.

Our final report born out of the California drought takes us to Napa Valley, where some high school cheerleaders have turned to a waterless car wash solution in order to raise funds for their cheer and dance program. A newspaper report said the 24 high schoolers garnered about $1,000 using an eco-friendly solution and although squad coach Myka Galovic admitted she was a bit skeptical at first, in the end “every customer was happy.” One adult volunteer suggested the fundraiser might have been so successful since residents are avoiding washing their cars during the drought, and there was less competition from other car wash fundraisers this year for the same reason.

Pollen? Road salt? Love bugs? For Divisadero Touchless Car Wash, the seasonal volume driver is Burning Man, an annual weeklong music festival and party event in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, that results in tens of thousands of ‘Burners’ cars being coated in sand and dust. “We’ll see about 500 Burning Man cars over the next week,” owner Patty Shimek explained to a local news station, adding that she’ll schedule extra workers to deal with the volume and offer a special service specifically for Burning Man partiers -- priced at $100 a pop for the inside/outside treatment. “Our policy has evolved and our price has evolved,” Shimek said. The wash’s policy includes

Talk about going under! An Athens, GA, car wash lost a wall and an ice machine when a 15-foot wide, 8-foot deep sinkhole oc-

curred on its property. The owner has installed some reinforcements to prevent further collapse and luckily no injuries were reported.

warning “Burners” about longer wait times and asking them to arrive several hours before closing to avoid being turned away. This year, the festival attracted over 65,000 attendees.

Here’s a new one (we think), managers at Moo Moo Car Wash in Hilliard, GA, are warning the public about a scam that’s happening on their lot -- but definitely without their permission. According to a local television report, con artists will approach the car wash customer with a magic goo. “They will look to see if you have any damage on your car, like a dent or a scratch or anything, and they will come up to you and be like, ‘Hey, I can fix that way better than any body shop can,” said Cameron Morris, a manager at Moo Moo Car Wash. For a few hundred bucks, the scammers will pretend to use a magic goo to fix the vehicle’s imperfection. “He puts on like duct tape, black or silver duct tape, depending on the color of the car, and then he puts like this green yucky putty stuff and calls it his magic stuff.” The car wash has filed a report with Columbus Police, according to the report. “You need to watch out, just watch out, somebody walk up to you and say they can fix something, just say no,” said Shardai Morrison, a Moo Moo manager.

There’s a new competitor coming to town -- or perhaps we should say coming house to house. Spiffy is a smart phone app (available on Apple and Google Play stores) that allows users to order and pay for mobile detailing services. Services include interior and exterior treatments {continued }

I know what I’m wearing to Car Wash Show ‘16… Car wash has finally hit high-end fashion now that the “car wash skirt” has been featured in at least 15 runway shows this season, according to Who What Wear. The style is so-named because it’s wide strips of fabric resemble car wash mitters. “The car wash skirt is perfect for dressing up decently while teasing a little skin,” according to one fashion blog. “It’s also ideal for transitioning between warm summer weathers and the cooler breeze of fall.” ‡ FALL 2015 ‡



Read all about it ... Interesting operator news and tidbits from around the industry water cooler.

Last but not least, we give you this blast from a past (editor):

which are priced between $19.99 and $299. Currently it’s services are limited to the Charlotte, NC, area, but the company has set its sights on expansion in relatively quick fashion.

Editor Emeritus Jarrett J. Jakubowski sent us this beauty from the pages of Popular Science. He explains: “[While] clearing out Colleen’s folks’ house to prepare it for sale, I discovered huge piles of old Popular Science magazines (from 1940’s to 1970’s). Fascinating reading! To wit: in the course of my perusing I discovered an article in the July 1950 issue of PS. It featured the “Auto Shower” --a device that promised to “wash your car in your own garage just the way big auto laundries do.” I thought you and your readers might be interested, so I attached a copy.”

Remember those working girls we highlighted from the 2014 Car Wash Show in Chicago? I’m referring, of course, to those hard working, never-take-abreak, always-smiling booth babes we photographed and displayed in our Spring 2014 cover story. Oh, quit the heavy breathing -- I’m talking about the mannequins! Well, it looks like we weren’t the only ones that took notice of these lovely ladies, a local television station in Indianapolis was also quite struck by the new “employee” at Rama Car Wash and in fact devoted an entire tongue-in-cheek story to her hiring. “Co-workers will tell you she’s a model employee, but even with only a week on the job, she’s made a big difference,” the story noted. “My manager likes her because she takes no breaks (and doesn’t) complain,” Walter Reid, an employee there told The Indy Channel. And at least one customer almost lost a spouse to the sign spinner: “My husband thought she was real. He was about to jump out of the car,” one customer told the news station.

It’s a case of missing common sense for authorities who confiscated a toy gun left out at a car wash in Lincolnshire, England. According to a report from The Boston Standard, the plastic toy gun belonged to a nineyear-old boy who is the son of the car wash’s owner and was reported by an anonymous observer to the police. Two members of the Roads and Armed Policing Team visited Mr. Shine Car Wash -- the newspaper described it as a “swoop” -- and took the “weapon” for processing. The car wash owner and his son were not present at the time, but a manager called him soon after the raid. What’s confusing is that the toy -- which has an orange cap and is made of lightweight plastic -- was not obviously identified as such and left in place. Instead, police have confiscated it and, according to the family, have not contacted them about the incident. The carwash’s owner was also concerned because customers were present and CCTV footage makes the event seem rather dramatic and without any explanation given from the authorities. A police spokesman did tell a local reporter that the family will most likely be contacted in a few days regarding the property. Adding, “Any incident which involves a report of firearms is taken very seriously, with the safety of the public and officers of foremost consideration.”

32 ‡ FALL 2015 ‡

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Veterans in our Mist

Joe’s Air Force Life Joe Campbell, Kadena AFB, Okinawa 1950

An in-depth look at SSCWN’s founding publisher’s military service. In our last issue we announced a new feature, Veterans in our Mist, created to recognize and honor military service veterans who are part of the car wash industry. I can think of no better way to kick off this semi-regular column than by acknowledging and expressing gratitude for the military service of our founding publisher, Joe Campbell. Joe has graciously provided these photos and commentary detailing his military career. I hope you will find it as inspiring and informative as I have. As a final note, if you are a service member who would like to share their story, or would like to nominate one that you know, please contact me at so that we can maintain this tradition of honoring our industry’s military veterans in the pages of SSCWN.

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Navigator’s Wings

Joe Campbell, 2014

A pilot’s compass Flying East

During WW2 I was in the Army Air Force. I trained to become a Navigator. I got my wings at Hondo AAF (Army Air Field), Hondo, Texas, about 50 miles west of San Antonio. Above is an AT-7 Navigator training plane. It was set up for 3 students at a time. We flew training flights all over Texas, day and night. You can tell it’s over Texas. See how flat it is. After I finished training I was assigned to a Troop Carrier Group, C-47 and C-46 aircraft.

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Veterans in our Mist

E6B Flight Computer

Inside a navigation trainer. The far student is taking celestial shot through the astrodome. The center student is checking a star chart. The near student is using an E-6B computer to figure the plane’s position. Over 400,000 E-6Bs were manufactured during WW2. It’s a circular slide rule with aeronautical markings. Each student had a drift meter and a 6 inch compass.





It would have been impossible to win WW2 with out these planes. They were the Big Rigs of the sky. They went every where and carried most anything . The C-46 is much larger. A few C-47s still fly today. Why are they called “Gooney Birds”. Because they did unusual and unexpected things – like the real Gooney Birds on Midway Island, in the Pacific Ocean.

A week after WW2 ended I was sent to China. There, another war was being fought between the Nationalist and Communist. The Communist finally won in 1949. When flying, we had blood chits just in case.

My first flight as a Navigator in China was from Kunming to Shanghai, 1200 miles, in a brand new, shinny B-24, made in Detroit, Michigan. Since WW2 was over, our surplus airplanes were destroyed, cut in half and melted down. The Chinese made pots, pans and woks out of them. I wonder if the people in Detroit know this?

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Veterans in our Mist Based in Shanghai, we flew over China, Indo-China, Hainan and Formosa. We carried anything that would fit into a C-46. Our crew, 2 pilots and myself, were armed with Colt .45s. One day we picked up 45 Japanese Officers for repatriation with their pistols and Samurai swords. They had to leave the pistols and store their swords in the belly compartment. After landing we taxied away and kept their swords. I got a nice one. When in Peking, we ate Peking Roast Duck (Not like today’s Fast Duck in L.A.).

China Burma India Shoulder Patch

A Troop Carrier C-46 CurUss Commando

Here’s what China’s money looked like in 1945. I still have these bills. They lost their value due to inflation, so to buy anything, you had to have a stack of them. A wallet wouldn’t do. Generally you carried them in a large shoulder bag.

North American AT-6

I started pilot training in 1948, at Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas. The Air Force used our class 49-A, as an experiment. For years, the Air Force had used small airplanes with fixed landing gear to train and solo students. Instead, we skipped the small planes and started out in an advanced trainer, the AT-6. It wasn’t a P-51 by any means, but it has a lot of horsepower, was fully acrobatic and had retractable landing gear. The big problem was that students would forget to lower the landing gear and make a belly landing . Luckily this never happened, the experiment worked and became the blueprint for future pilots.

Here’s a couple of T-6 trainers that didn’t make it back home be-cause of mechanical problems or pilot errors. They say that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. Forced landings can happen at anytime, so it’s a good idea to be prepared . But wooded areas aren’t the best. Cotton fields are better. Look at the difference.

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Veterans in our Mist Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I Ace, and President Of Capital Airlines gave me my Pilot’s Wings when I graduated from flight school in Class 49-A, at Barksdale Air Force Base, Shreveport, Louisiana. There I learned to fly the twin engine B-25.

One of Doolihle’s Raider’s

Here’s a photo of a fully armed B-25 on the deck of the USS Hornet, waiting to take off on a bombing run over Japan, on April 18, 1942. This was the type of airplane I learned to fly at Barksdale Air Force Base in 1948-49. in class 49-A. Our training B-25s were stripped of all armament, which made them much lighter and easier to fly. As far as I know our class had no accidents.

Next was learning to fly B-29s at McDill AFB, Tampa, Florida. Then on to Castle AFB, Merced, California, for crew training. Emergency and survival training was highly stressed. So, I had to take Artic Survival Training in Nome, Alaska, for 2 weeks. That consisted of living on the ice cap with only a parachute and a survival kit. Igloo living is best, but you have to build it. No nails required!

40 ‡ FALL 2015 ‡

MacDill Air Force Base Tampa Florida See the B-29’s

Veterans in our Mist

Boeing B-50

One day our crew was flown to Seattle to pick up a brand new B-50. A snow storm stranded us there for 7 days. While taxiing out for takeoff, our left wing tip hit something. That ended the flight right there and then. However, a large group of mechanics ran out of the factory and repaired the wing (Just like NASCAR) and we were ready for takeoff again. When we got home, all was quite for a few days until some one found out about our accident. Thank goodness it blew over quickly.

Here’s Joe building an igloo near Nome, Alaska, in 1949. No nails required! That was way before Global Warming. Each morning an Eskimo would arrive with his dog sled, searching for any of our discards. Believe it or not, the Eskimo clothing was better than ours. The dogs were fed frozen fish, bones and all. We ate K rations from our survival kits.

Here’s Fi Fi, the last B-29 still able to fly today (2014). I saw Fi Fi in June at the Air Show in Sacramento, CA.

Here’s a head on shot of the B-29, Fi Fi, at the Sacramento , 2014, Air Show. This gives a better view of it’s size. Notice how large the propellers are. They are huge! Before starting engines, each propeller has to be rotated around completely several times by hand. That’s a Big Job!

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Veterans in our Mist B-29s were used through out the Korean War. I was in the 19th Bomb Group, 28th Bomb Squadron, at Kadena AFB, Okinawa. Our crew flew 65 bombing missions over North Korea in the Outlaw. The crew following us crashed the Outlaw on takeoff one day. So, the Outlaw never made it to a museum or a static display. But there is a picture of it at one of the museums in Washington D.C.

B-29 Outlaw Crew Kadena AFB, Okinawa 1950

19th Bomb Group B-29 over North Korea 1950

Classic WWII military bomber nose art featuring a likeness of actress Jane Russell on the B-29 Superfortress “The Outlaw” from the 1941 movie of the same name. The nose art was painted on B-29 S/N 42-65306 of the 28th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group. The aircraft later crashed on takeoff in 1951. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

A 19th Bomb Group, 28th Bomb Squadron, B-29, from Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, on a bombing run over North Korea, 1950. The Outlaw was leading this formation of three B-29s . Altitude was about 20,000 feet with the bomb bay doors open. I can’t remember what the target was. Some were heavily defended with anti aircraft fire, while others weren’t, depending on their importance.

19th Bomb Group, Kadena AFB, Okinawa I almost fell over when I found this photo on the internet. It was all beat up, crushed, torn, faded and crooked. My daughter had to photo shop it quite a bit. As far as I could tell, there was no nose art on this B-29. Instead, there was just 3 large, bold letters…..BUB . What that stands for I don’t know. Evidently BUB did something unusual to honor the entire 19th B. G.

44 ‡ FALL 2015 ‡

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Veterans in our Mist

Mig 15

In case you were wondering, here’s a Russian built Mig-15 from “Mig Alley”. It was one of the first fighters built in the “Jet Age”. It’s Pilot, a North Korean, defected to South Korea, and landed at Kimpo Air Base. This event enabled our Air Force to learn about the Mig’s ability and saved many lives.

This is Mig Alley, where the Yalu River divides North Korea and China. One of our main targets were bridges to cut China’s supply routes into North Korea. Our aircraft were not allowed to cross the Yalu to hit targets, or to chase down Migs based in China. This provided a sanctuary for the N. Korea Air Force, really Chinese and Russian. This is one of the main reasons we couldn’t win the war.

TARZON This is a TARZON, radio guided, bunker buster, 13 thousand pound, 21 foot long bomb used for hardened targets like underground bunkers, bridges, submarine pens and etc. Developed in World War 2 but forgotten until The Korean War. It was an early attempt to guide bombs to a target that conventional free falls would miss. Only a few were ever built. The TARZON was too large to fit inside a B-29, so it partially extended outside. This changed the aerodynamics of the B-29. One day our Group Commander and his B-29 were lost at sea, thought to be from this TARZON characteristic. Never the less, the TARZON did get some big targets before it was discontinued in late 1951.

This is a post strike photo (1950) of a bombing mission. Notice the downed bridge spans. Since we weren’t allowed to fly over China, our bombing runs were somewhat awkward. Both bridges were built by the Japanese when they owned Korea and Manchuria, one in 1911 and the other in 1937.

The Broken Bridge and the Friendship Bridge are big tourist attractions today. Pedestrians are not allowed on the Friendship Bridge. It was named that in 1990. It has a one track rail road and a one lane road across it.

Night photos of the Friendship Bridge between North Korea and China, Circa 2010. You can see why it’s such a tourist attraction. No music or rides like Disneyland, but plenty of Chinese restaurants on the west side. ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


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Veterans in our Mist I often wondered what ever happened to the Outlaw. Well this is it! About 50 years later, after I left Okinawa, I received a letter with this picture (Not an email) from someone I didn’t know. The Outlaw had crashed on take off and broke in two. I imagine it was melted down and made into pots, pans and woks, as all good planes in Asia were.

Command Pilot’s Wings Joe Campbell, Kimpo AFB, Soul, South Korea, 1951. Getting ready for a reconnaissance flight over North Korea. I have a parachute on my back but it’s not connected up yet.

Douglas B-26

Since all of our planes were painted black, they were called “Blackbirds”. There was no time to build an elaborate runway, instead, it was made out of PSP, pierced steel planking. It was like landing on a tin roof but it worked. Korea is very cold in the winter. When flying, we wore electric suits to keep warm.

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Veterans in our Mist Next, I spent 3 years in Germany with B-26s. Once I landed at Gibraltar, on the Southern tip of Spain. It’s so small that both ends of the runway are right on the ocean. If your brakes don’t work, you take a bath. Apes live on top of the Rock of Gibraltar. I just had to see them. They are just big monkeys, and will steal you blind. Next, I was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and learned to fly the KC-135 , an aerial refueling plane. SAC was my last assignment in the Air Force. Since we were in a Cold War with Russia, most of my time was spent on alert (Like a fireman waiting for a fire), a flight simulator instructor and other related duties.

Boeing KC-135

The Air Force offered many educational opportunities. In 1950 I graduated from Modesto Junior College, California, with an AA degree. Next I took college courses on base offered by the University of Maryland. For instance, I had a real German Professor for German language, and a real Russian Professor for Russian History. When I had enough credits, I attended the University of Maryland, 1958, and graduated with a B.S. Degree in Military Science.

B-26 Cockpit

A KC-135 refueling a B-52

In late 1951, I went through B-26 Combat Crew Training at Langley AFB, Virginia. Next, to a Escape and Survival School at Reno AFB, Nevada. Just in case! Then to Kimpo AFB, Soul, South Korea. Once there I flew 55 reconnaissance (Spy) missions over North Korea.

A B-26 calibrating it’s 14, 50 caliber machine guns. I trained in this type of plane. The first time I fired all 14 guns at once, it felt like plane stopped in mid air. In Korea, there was a shortage of reconnaissance pilots, so I was switched to an unarmed, glass nosed B-26. ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


Veterans in our Mist

This is one place I don’t want to see again! I made 3 ferry trips in B-26s across the Atlantic from New Foundland, to Greenland, to Iceland, and to Scotland. Flying up a 50 mile fjord in bad weather is hairy! Then if you can’t land you have to go back to where you came from providing you have enough fuel. Of the top 10 scariest approaches and landings in the world, this is rated as one of them.

DeHavilland Caribou

After retiring from the Air Force in 1965, I flew Caribous for Air America, a covert group of aircraft directed by the CIA, in Laos. The Caribou was designed for short field landings and takeoffs. It also had a back door ramp for fast drive in or walk in loading. This was the last airplane I ever flew.

In 1953, or 54, while at Larson AFB, Washington, I received orders to go to Munich, Germany, for 3 years. But…an old farmer had sold me his Ryan ST-A. Ferrying It to Southern California, I got weathered in at Bend, Oregon. That’s the last time I saw the Ryan. Several months later, in spring, a friend of mine, retrieved the Ryan and continued the ferry trip. He ground looped in Chico, California. That was the end of the Ryan. Pots and pans again? Maybe… but no woks this time!

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Army Air Force Ryan – Similar to a Ryan ST-A

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Fall Show Round-Up We go around the world in 80 days to review trade show events in Australia, Amsterdam, Atlantic City, California and South Carolina. Car wash operators throughout the United States, Europe and Australia were offered a bevy of opportunities to network, learn, and kick tires at Fall trade show events this season. Most of these events had record-breaking turnout -- even in instances where

We’ll start our round-up in Riverside, CA, where the Western Carwash Association (WCA) hosted their Inland Empire Roadshow on October 20-21, 2015 at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, CA. The event brought together more than one hundred car wash operators, managers and suppliers for two days of networking, education and industry comradery. As part of the kick-off evening reception and dinner program, the WCA board honored outgoing board members for their service to the association, and also recognized incoming board members as they officially took their new positions. In addition to recognizing the WCA board of directors, Matt Clayton, from Terrible Herbst Carwash, was awarded with the Manager of the Year Award. For the education portion of the program, attendees experienced a spirited presentation from Ron Cates, director of digital marketing at Constant Contact. Cates spoke to the importance of utilizing email marketing as an effective tool to reach new car wash

Jumping across the Pacific, we find ourselves in Melbourne, Australia, for the Australian Car Wash Association Expo 2015. Although a bit smaller than some of the regional shows we enjoy here in the States, the ACWA certainly enjoyed a banner year by their own metrics, breaking all existing records for attendance and exhibition numbers, including 64

opportunities overlapped -- and reports from all shows seemed to indicate that the car wash market is healthy and poised for growth heading into 2016 and beyond.

customers and retain current and returning clients. The roadshow portion of the tour took place the following day, with attendees visiting the following carwash sites, as well as the K-VAC water treatment plant for lunch: s Shell Rapid Lube & Carwash s Matt’s Express Carwash s Zipline Express Carwash

exhibit booths and 130 exhibitors, 280 attendees, and 30 international visitors from USA, Europe, Taiwan, and New Zealand. The event’s Opening Breakfast and Gala Dinner were both sold out and 80 attendees participated in the Association’s bus tour at Melbourne car wash sites held in conjunction with the show. The ACWA, which has made a name for itself

s Mills Circle Carwash s Spotless Express Carwash Miss this roadshow and want to be sure to register for the next installment? Be sure to check back on the WCA website for updated information on the next roadshow taking place in April 2016 in San Diego, CA, or contact Danielle Roe at

by spearheading government policy in regards to car washes and drought, as well as leading industry research and activism in promoting the benefits of commercial car washing and the environmental dangers of at-home car washing, had a lot to celebrate, including feedback from exhibitors which ranked its fifth annual expo as “probably the best ever expo in terms of good sales leads and booth traffic.”

{continued }

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Fall Show Round-Up Now a quick pit stop in Europe to catch up with the International Carwash Association as they hosted their first ever international expo in Amsterdam this October 5-7. According to a press release from the ICA, the show attracted more than twice the expected participation, with 2,100 total participants. It included car wash tours, seminars and receptions in addition to the two-day expo. The Association said more than 70 nationalities were represented at the event, with approximately 80 percent of attendees from Europe, 15 percent from North America and 5 percent from other markets around the globe. The nearly 90 exhibiting companies represented twice the number of car wash companies ever assembled in Europe. Occurring as part of Car Wash Show Europe was a meeting of car wash association leaders from seven countries, the presentation of the International Carwash Association’s Car Wash Hall of Fame Awards to Dr. Joseph Enning and Mr. Ger Loogman, and a membership meeting for BOVAG, the Dutch car wash organization. Dates for the next edition of Car Wash Show Europe, to be held in the autumn of 2017, will be announced soon. For additional information, please contact International Carwash Association.

The Northeast Regional Carwash Convention was celebrating similar good news in Atlantic City, NJ, as they hosted their 26th annual show on those same dates (October 5-7). The NRCC attracted 31 more exhibitors in their new space at the Atlantic City Convention Center for a total of 301 booth -- an all-time record -- and 1,629 attendees. “The move to the Convention Center was ideal,” said Show Chairman, David DuGoff of the Mid-Atlantic Carwash Association “There was space to walk around on the show floor, exhibits with more hardware, tables that you could use to get business done (or just take a break), and the entire environment was comfortable, bright and easy to use. We went out of our way to take care of our exhibitors and attendees,” said DuGoff. “That is the NRCC way of running a trade show.” In addition to the move to the Convention Center, the NRCC also had a new host hotel, The Borgata. But as we always find with these regional events, “The best part of any show is the people,” said DuGoff. “There were lots of operators happy to be in the industry and they were eager to learn and grow through our educational seminars that began

at 7am. The energy I felt on the floor and in the seminars was palpable.” (As one of those attendees, I completely concur.) Another highlight of the show was seeing longtime organizer and NRCC board member Walt Hartl of Hoffman Car Wash in Albany, NY, honored as the 2015 recipient of the show’s Hall of Fame award. Hartl is the current New York State Car Wash Association president and two-time NRCC Chairman, received the honor in a heartfelt tribute by Mike Benmosche, last year’s honoree, who has worked closely with him on the two shows they have co-chaired. For those who didn’t attend, you missed out on some really great educational sessions,” said Ron Bousquet, the 2016 Show Chairman. “But we will do everything we can to raise the bar a little higher in 2016. You can be sure of that!” The 2016 NRCC is slated for September 19-21 at the Atlantic City Convention Center with the Borgata as the host hotel. The New England Carwash Association is the host and Ron Bousquet is the Chairman. For exhibitor information contact 800/868-8590 or visit

We conclude our wrap-up with a visit down South to the Southeastern Car Wash Association’s annual trade show event in Myrtle Beach, SC, where publisher Jackson Vahaly was on hand to record this panel discussion: SECWA PANELISTS: DALE REYNOLDS, BRAD RAY, TIM JONES

Brad: This gentleman knows some of the odd things other people are doing, because, it’s changing. What have you changed to keep up with the times? Tim: We all try to stay up with technology and how we can grow our business. It’s all about making money. Of course, having a good location – there’s still a lot of good sites out there but you see people let them go. They don’t reinvest in their business. I’m a big believer in reinvesting in your business to make your business better. It’s about customer experience, and any time you can create that customer – it’s almost like we have to create a Disneyland these days, to keep the customer interested so that they’ll come back. So, we appeal to their sense of sight, smell, their kids, to keep people coming back to your carwash. Dale: You bring up some good points about reinvesting in your business. That’s probably the one thing we see that people are slow to do. For example, if you look at the petroleum industry years

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ago, they used to replace their automatic carwash systems every 7 years. Then they slowed down to about every 10 years. But if you looked at Shell, Exxon, etc. they would reimage their whole stores every 7 to 10 years. They wanted them to be fresh and inviting and to look like something new. And my experience in the carwash industry has been the slowest to rebrand and reimage ourselves, to add new services, and even to replace new equipment. A lot of people keep riding that dead ole horse forever – they don’t want to spend the money to make it new again. Tim, you’ve done some reinvesting in your washes recently, do you mind telling us what you’ve done? Tim: I had done my first conversions of in-bays to short-tunnels back in ’08, and that was about the time of the recession and we were going through some tough times economically. But, I just happened to be in it at the right time and when I invested that my business grew through that entire {continued }

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Fall Show Round-Up time period. My expresses were averaging $7.50/ car because my price point was $5,8,10. Well, back in ’13, I went back in and reinvested and added the latest things in technology in tunnels and changed to price points to $5,10,12 and 15. My per-car average when from $7.50/car to almost $10/car. That’s a pretty good jump. Brad: There’s still carwashes out there with a toggle switch, “soap/rinse/wax.” You can only sell what you’ve got. How many of you have actually gone back and added new functions? I think the self serve market kinda got stuck in a mindset that this is what I got. I was talking to a guy earlier who took a triple foam gun and now applies his tire cleaner and presoak through the triple foam gun as a foam. He said you would be amazed at how much my

Brad: That’s what we were talking about. One guy over in the express side said his kid doesn’t even know what a self serve looks like. Does anybody have a kid they think would spend 45 minutes washing a car themselves? But yet I was at one of my washes (the gated) in a lower demographic area but there was a 75 year old lady in a ’16 Mercedes Coup washing her car with a foam brush. Where did she come from? She said, “my husband brings his Corvette here and washes it twice a week and it’s a good value.” She could have afforded anything she wanted but it was a good value. So the perceived value with the gated has now come back. Granted I charge $5 to get in and eventually I’ll have to charge more, but it’s a perceived value thing. Dale: Do you all ever notice that the people who

self serve model by itself, an express wash can only wash what fits in their “envelope.” You start talking about an in-bay, and now you’re open 24/7, so that opens a little bit more. A self serve wash is an open platform. If your bay’s tall enough, anything out there that can be washed can be accommodated. I had a lady washing a pair of her kid’s baseball pants because they don’t come clean at home so they’ll take the high pressure and wash them. Eighteen wheelers. I watched a guy wash a toilet. He was rehabbing a house. I just said please wash the bay down when you’re done. We’re looking for stuff outside the norm and we can wash anything possible in a self serve carwash as long as they can get it in that bay – or if that hose is long enough they can wash it outside. We need to market to that better. Dale: Every new house that’s built today, they put a dishwasher in it. But they still put a sink in there also. You can’t wash everything in that dishwasher. It’s the same thing with carwashes. We see a lot of people that are building automatics and self serves – you don’t see the 10 – 20 bay self serves that you did years ago, but you’re still seeing 2,3,4 bay self serve locations with an automatic and with tunnels and it’s a good combination. Self serve’s going to be here for a long time as long as you provide reason for the customer to use it. There’s always going to be a need for it. Tim: Have people seen a lot of grown in credit cards over the past few years? I’ve seen tremendous growth in credit cards.

income went up. He said he doesn’t put it through the regular gun anymore. So, I’ve got washes I take pride in and look at and say, “It looks as good as the day I first built it.” That was 15 years ago. You let somebody else look at it and they say, “he hasn’t modernized in 15 years.” But to me it looks brand new. So look at the new equipment and the new theories. I got seven of them. I was an old self serve/ in bay guy. I got a self serve that’s a dud. Red brick. Single wall. I gotta do something with it. I put a gate around it. Guess what? The income’s doubled. It was the dud. I could either bulldoze it or do something with it. There’s also a different demographic using it, too. Brad: I had an old timer over in Texas who had over 100 self serve bays and I asked him what he thinks about these expresses and where he thinks this is going and what’s going to happen. And he said, “When I was young I went and washed my car over at the self serve and rubbed on it on Friday. Picked my girl up on Saturday.” He said, “Look at your kids now. What do they do when they meet each other? They pull out their technologies. Their car no longer defines them.” What we thought our customers were has changed and we need to figure that out.” Tim: Most kids don’t even know how to use a self serve.

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drive the Mercedes and the BMW’s and all, when they go through the automatic they choose the cheaper wash? And people with the older vehicles buy the top wash? I love it but that customer that he’s talking about will come to your wash when you provide the great services that they want. Tim: The biggest thing that bothers me about the self serve side of the business is I feel like we’re so undervalued. They don’t realize what we, as operators, have to deal with to keep that carwash running. And, we undervalue ourselves. We should be charging a lot more for what we’re providing the customer. Brad: How many of us have raised our prices in the past 5 years? How many of us have had our power go up in the past 2 years? Your income to expense ratio right now is through the roof. The self serve has not kept pace with that. If I wanted to charge what I should be worth, they’d be putting $5 - $10 worth or quarters, dollars or credit card into that self serve bay. But we’re scared of it. Heck I am, too. If I charge $10 they might go down to the express – I don’t know. It’s called the cost of goods sold. When that goes up, you need to change your price point. Brad: Customers realize that. I’ll tell you something else, I don’t know if everybody’s got all the models but I do, but when you start looking at the

Brad: My partner’s my 70 year old dad and he says, you just use that credit card to buy a coke with – I said it’s a check card. He doesn’t realize that. You take my generation or my kids’ generation and statistics say I’ve got less than $5 on hand. Kids’ generation don’t have any cash on hand. So you just wiped that entire market out if you don’t take credit cards. I sold my self serve carwash about 10 years ago and had to take it back. We’re in the process of upgrading and remodeling and credit cards are one of the changes we’re going to make. My question is, has it increased your volume? Brad: I can tell you it increases the average ticket, because I track that. Dale: What we’ve seen is the average person spends $1.50 higher per car with the credit card than the person who’s paying with cash. Do they maintain the same time ratio as your cash customers? Brad: We charge more to start. But it’s the same price/minute. Because of credit card fees, instead of charging $2 to start we charge $5 to start. We give them the same value for their money but I want a higher start ticket. We do get people that come into our wash who say, “I saw your credit card sign.” Naturally, that’s the guy with the bobcat on the back of his truck, the guy with the company truck but hey, it takes quarters to make mud and I don’t care what he’s drivingas long as he spends enough money then I’m happy. Dave Richards (Crytopay): My wife Jackie is the one who washes the cars. She goes to a self serve and all the bays are stacked up. There’s one bay that’s open, so we go to that bay and the credit card acceptor was broken. It’s important to have credit card right now. The other thing that can raise your

Fall Show Round-Up average ticket and get more money in the carwash is things like doing count-up on your timer or advanced count-down where you can swipe the card and let people buy more time. What I see is they’ll start with a higher ticket and they’ll buy as much time as they think they’ll need. They don’t want to be rushed. A few years ago, McDonald’s did a study where they looked at the difference between a cash customer and a credit card customer. What they found was that when cash leaves your wallet, there’s a more personal loss there. But with credit cards, it’s plastic and you don’t part with it. So the issue here is people will buy more with credit cards. They will spend more money. Brad: It also starts bringing in the corporate customer, the lone service guy that wants the receipt… it just brings in more traffic and a wider variety. In the self serve business, we’ve got about 3 customers we had. We’ve got the guy that loves his car. The guy that’s trying to do it cheap-skate that thinks it’s cheaper. And then you’ve got the guy that just thinks it’s fun to get out in the sun and wash. We’ve got to get a broader spectrum of customers. I want the guy that’s remodeling the house that’s got a toilet and a kitchen sink to wash. I don’t get the cheapskates anymore because they can put down $3 and go through the express. But guess what? He’s still got a ’55 Cadillac that he wants to wash and loveon himself. I still get him. So I think we need to broaden the market that we get. I put up pictures on my walls of odd things that you can wash. Hey, Summer’s coming and I need to wash my barbeque grill (granted they make a mess, but…). I can take it to my carwash and wash it.

two of the three models now. Add an in-bay and you’ve got three of the three models. Guess what they don’t have? They’ve got one model and one model alone. They can’t add it to their lot – their lot’s built-in. Those guys are going to be approaching you asking if you want to sell because there’s a whole lot more of us then there are of them and they’re running out of $750K sites. We’re sitting on a secondary or in some cases a primary site. We’ve got what they want. Dale: Tim, you were saying you’ve got location with a tunnel and a self serve, and you were looking to add an automatic to that? Tim: Yeah, the first site that I converted was back in ’08. It had one automatic and 6 self serve bays, and I took out the automatic and put in a short tun-

to embrace the friction model but also we wanted to grow and wash faster so this year we’ll do close to 70,000 cars on the site. Our ticket average has changed quite a bit also. On the in-bay automatic we were averaging $9.75/car and on the tunnel we’re $12/car. You do the math on those numbers and there’s a nice improvement there. But the inbay automatic is open 24 hours a day. Tim: Let’s go back to this. We all have valuable real estate out there. If you look at the footprint that our self serves have in comparison to, say our in-bay automatics and our express tunnels, what can we do to generate more revenue out of our self serve bays to get it closer to what we’re generating out of our in-bays and our express tunnels? Do we add a vacuum to it? You’ve got em cornered and you don’t

Dale: What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen somebody wash at your carwash? Brad: Animals. Different animals. I had a lady call me and ask me if I’ve got a pet wash. I said, no, but we’ve got a marine flush. She called me back and said she washed her dog and I think she used the high pressure! She said it was a little strong! Dale: I don’t necessarily want to be cleaning up manure behind a horse or anything else, but… Brad: But that man probably has a $75,000 trailer behind it and it wouldn’t be anything for him to swipe that credit card for $20. If you can get between a man and his hobby then you can make money. If you can get between him and his boat, or him and his 4-wheeler or any of that, then you can make money. Dale: So one of the things that people are starting to face the challenge of is the express model. Express tunnels are popping up and people are concerned, so how have you guys handled that with your self serve? Brad: How many have more than one (business) model on your lot? Anybody have a self serve with an express on their lot? Over on the express side, we’ve got a guy that’s got 70 washes. We’re talking big, big money people. Those guys are hunting locations right now to put in washes. Those guys won’t bat an eye about dropping $750,000 for the dirt. Do you know that you probably have the most valuable thing out there? When those guys build it’s on a square lot that’s landlocked in on 3 sides. You can put an express on your lot and you’ve got

nel. Now I’m looking at converting one of those 6 self serve bays into a touch-free automatic because there are still those people who don’t want anything to touch their car. They’ll line up for it. Plus, I have the opportunity to be open 24 hours. I know some people keep their express tunnel open 24 hours – don’t know how they do it, but… That’s my next project. I’m a glutton for punishment. Dale: I had a twin, high-pressure automatic site and ran it for many years since ’06 and then in ’12 put one of the automatics up and converted it to a mini-express also. The best year with the twin automatics I did 40,000 cars a year and the great recession kicked in and it dropped down to 36,000. One of the things that I’ve noticed with my washes is that all of our customers have become more impatient. People used to stack up in line 7 – 10 cars deep, and after about 3 years ago people would see 3 cars in line and they’d turn around wouldn’t wait anymore. I blame the smart phones and all that kind of stuff for it, but another thing about that time is that people weren’t washing their cars as frequently and cars were coming in dirtier and it was becoming more challenging to clean touch-free. So, I was really looking at the friction model and the mini-tunnels were just coming out at that time so I made that change – pulled one automatic out and put in an express mini-tunnel in there. We wanted

have vacuums out here. Do you offer glass cleaner? Do you offer RFID? We’re not getting the return we should be getting on that piece of property as much as that self serve bay takes up. Dale: You might take a site that was a 6 bay and now you only need 4 bays. The model’s changed, the demographics change and your customer base changes. Just because it was built as a 6 bay doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. How many operators have actually surveyed their customers to see what they’re doing and what they want? Ask you customers what you can do to improve your services. You can ask them the questions about the things you’re thinking about adding like wheel cleaner, a dryer to the bay, maybe a hot wax. Even on your automatics – what can we do better? Your customers will tell you what they’d like to have. It’s a really simple thing to do – just spend a Saturday. Give them a window-wipe or a sponge pack or something like that to just take one minute to answer a survey because we want to do a better job for you. Tim: But don’t to it in the bay! Brad: To build a full blown express it’s going to take $2 million. They just paid $700K for the dirt. You have an approved site. You’ve already got the infrastructure. And if you want to add that third model, and if you want to put that mini-express on your lot you can still have the income off your ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


64 ‡ FALL 2015 ‡

Fall Show Round-Up existing location that’s doing $160K/month. Now, you have added an express to that same location and only spent $800K. Guess what? Down the street, just the express portion is worth $2 million. So now you’ve got $2 million plus your self serve and in-bay. Plus if I look at my income, I’ve got $160K of existing income and I just added another $40K/month on an express. So the numbers work a whole lot better for the self serve bunch than the guys who are painted in on a square lot with nothing but an express on it. I guarantee you 3 years from now they’ll be knocking on your door to buy your location if we don’t adjust our own models. There’s more opportunity with your location than there is down the street. We’ve still got to keep our self serve going and all that, but the opportunity that this room has is just amazing. The value is still there in what we have. Dale: When you’re looking to add a new service, everybody’s looking to add new revenue, right? One of the things I’ve noticed at a lot of carwashes is that people will add a new service, but they don’t promote it. That old model of, build it and they will come doesn’t necessarily fit today. And our industry as a whole, and particularly the self serve side, is probably the least properly marketed segment there is and I’m guilty of it myself. What do we do? We put a sign on the wall. That’s out marketing plan. We don’t do anything else other than that. One of the things I’ve seen with the express models is you see a lot more people using digital signs and we’re not doing that in self serve bays. You can do that and make yourself more noticeable and change the venue a bit and bring people in to promote that new service. We need to look at more ways to directly market on our site to the motoring public. That’s where our opportunity to grow is we all want to bring in that new customer. Brad: Does anybody give tokens out in their self serve bay? Where if they buy a wash they get a token? Doesn’t have to be for a vacuum. I take one meter and put it on site and it serves every bay now because they just got a token. Put a $5 bill in and you get a token. It’s good for a vacuum. It’s good for a carpet shampoo. It’s good for whatever. We look back at the express and ask what is our answer to them? Well, at our in-bay we said we had to add tire shiner and free vacuum and we gotta do all this. Well look at the self serve and ask the same thing. My guy’s gone down the street to the express for $5. How am I going to compete with that? Well, if he buys $5 worth of wash at the self serve bay, I’m going to give him a vacuum token for free. Anything that you can do to answer that – nowadays they’ve got the free-standing tire shiners. Maybe the token’s good for that. He can get his tires shined. He can vacuum. Everything that they’re offering, how can we offer it in the self serve? With the token, you can do all sorts of things. Once you’ve added that value to it, you can make it good for anything on the lot. Tim: How may have their sites attended? It’s all about reaching people. One of the better marketing tools I’ve found is I send a free wash to all the new movers in my zip codes. I’m giving them the best wash that I’ve got. There are certain companies – it costs about 75 cents to do the mailing but you can define the radius around your site as big or irregular,

how many you want to send out, or however you want to do it. Every month they’ll send out a card for a free wash. They bring it to the wash and the attendant takes care of it. Brad: There’s some stuff coming in the industry now and it’s filtered down. When you’ve got a $2 million express you can afford the technology. The technology’s been in the self serve but we’ve just never standardized it. There’s not enough out there that you can justify to market it to everybody, but there’s stuff now where you can join something with your cell phone and pull up to that self serve bay and type the phone number of that self serve bay and that bay turn on. So then kids with the cell phones now – you can tap that market. That kind of stuff is coming to the self serve, and the cost of all that stuff is coming down but I don’t know that our equipment is capable of handling it but it’s getting more that it will interface with our stuff with timers and different stuff like that. Can you image if a person can drive up to your wash and types in a number and it turns on? Anything they can do at

the high end, we can now do in the self serve. Tim: What about having a keypad on your bay where you come up and like you’re on Facebook, send them a code for 2 free minutes, a free cycle or whatever, just to get them in there. Brad: Self serve’s didn’t used to be capable of that. We used to have to have a guy to drop quarters in it. Now all that is automated. Anything that they can do at the high end we can do at the self serve. Tim: But getting people to your wash is the biggest thing. Birthdays. I send out 200–300 birthdays a month – Happy Birthday, come in for a free wash. Dale: I’m going to direct this question to the ladies in here. How many of you have a credit or shopping card for your favorite stores? Delk, Nordstroms, grocery stores, places like that. You don’t count them, but you can measure them (they’re about that thick!). Those are loyalty programs. Do you have a loyalty program for your carwash? How can you design and implement one to keep bringing them back? All these major retailers have figured out that that’s a great way to get repeat business, and we need to be doing the same thing. Maybe

it’s on the phone, or maybe it’s a card program… however you get there. You have to look at the ways you continually market to your customers. You go into any store today, and you want to buy something and they ask you if you’d like to do it with a Delk card or whatever. J.C. Penney will give you a 10% discount to pay for it with their card. They’re going to make more money on finance fees when people start using that card and not paying it off. A guy in finance told me that over 80% of people that use credit cards don’t pay them off that month. So I started extrapolating how many people were using credit cards, especially in the automatics and we figured that 65% of the people that were getting their cars washed with us we figured were financing getting their car washed and paying interest on that because they weren’t paying their credit card bills off. Does anybody have an idea how you would do a loyalty program with the self serve? Brad: There are different programs out there. Electronic punch cards. Check-in cards. WashCard systems.

Tim: A lot of your automatic tellers and stuff these days have keypads on them and you can put out a code. Is that worth looking at on a self serve bay? Brad: I’ve got a gated, and I’m getting ready to do a texting program. So, I pick out a zip code – you don’t need a name and I say, text in for a free wash. Costs me 17 cents a name. When they show up they type the code in and the gate opens so now I’ve gotten them at least one time to try it. Again, my partner’s my dad, a 1970’s banker, and with all this social media stuff he wants to know, “put me a dollar figure on it. How much money are we making on it?” I can’t tell ya, but I know everybody else is doing it, and it’s almost a necessary evil now. You’ve got to do it. I never thought about using my text club to grab a self serve customer, but we’ve seen people washing their carpets, their baseball pants. I’ve been guilty of doing that myself when my kids were young. Brad: Express is an impulse. In-bay is an impulse. Self serve is a planned activity. If you can affect their plan… there are three ways to make money. You can increase the average ticket of your present ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


Fall Show Round-Up customer. You can bring in new blood. Or you can increase the frequency. New blood’s wonderful, I love that, but if you can use the credit card or use a loyalty program and get the average ticket up. What if you took all your customers and increased them one more frequency? In the self serve, that’s hard to do. You do it with the marketing and the new technology. Dale: Has anybody done time-of-day pricing? Or specials during the week? You see all these specials that people do especially in tunnels – marketing ladies day, and so forth. But we don’t do anything like that in self serve, typically. Some people are doing it. Brad: A lot of the timers have stuff like that built into them with capabilities to automate that stuff.





Dale: How do you market to your customers to get them to come to you at off-peak hours? At nighttime when you’re doing the least amount of business but your costs are still going – you’ve got your lights to turn on. I know some people who are actually cutting their price in half from say, 8pm to 8am to get people to come in and use the wash more at that time. It might not be at the margin that they want but it increases volume and is better than nothing at all. It gives them a chance to grow their market base as well. I’m just saying we’ve got to get our head out of the sand – we’ve been stuck in the old ways for so long. We’ve got to look at anything. It might not work for you but give it a try. Marketing-wise it may be hard to mea-




sure, but until you give it a try, you’ll never know. Perry Powell ( I have a really good customer who is buying his 3rd location now and typically has 3 & 2’s, sometimes there are more self serve bays attached, and I was doing some work last year and I never thought about doing it with self serves until that moment when I had this epiphany. We have no built a sales presentation and marketing program to go after fleet business and we have hired an outside sales representative to go to the field and sell these products. I’d love to have some empirical data, but it’s actually being kicked off next month. We hired a serious salesman to do the selling from the insurance industry. We worked out the financial models and built the presentation to go with it. We can take credit cards and did all the things we need to do to be able to go out and sell to them. And quickly behind that, we are going to be adding a component that allows us to go after charity business in a similar fashion. There are actually some 3rd and 4th legs we’re going to be going after. Apartment complex communities. Rather than waiting for cars to drive by and come to the business, you go out and get them. At some point, there’s the question of what if you over-tax the bays? We’re going to do what some have done and put a conveyer in. So, actually it was the idea of how do I go from being a self serve to putting a conveyer in and the best thing is create a demand instead of putting one in and saying, “I hope they come.” Let’s have demand

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say we have to put one in. So starting next month, we’re going to be going to the market. We’re not going to wait for them to come to us. Brad: How many people in here do fleets? How many people are going after the business? Years ago when we got in the business a guy told us, “build a self serve carwash and they’ll come.” And they did! We did that for years until we got to the point of building a $750K Taj Mahal and they came and then the expresses came about and they went. You’ve got to go pursue the customer now. Who does fleets? We have fleets with our express, but never thought about a fleet with the self serve.How many plumbing trucks to you see driving down the road? They can’t go through that tunnel. That truck with a ladder-rack on top? He’s got to wash it. And he would love to have a receipt and his boss that has 8 of those trucks would love to have accounting for it. So now, you get the gift card program or the texting wash program or whatever and program that you can track it for that owner. You just said the apartment complexes. It’d be wonderful to approach the manager and say I’ve got a wonderful benefit for all 800 of your tenants here. I’ll sell you a club plan that says when they join your apartment, they get a club plan to come down and wash their car. What about club plans for self serve? They do it in the expresses. Perry: We did it 4 years ago. In a self serve. How was your tracking - was it code related? You can do it either way.

Fall Show Round-Up Brad: See, that’s what I think the industry’s got a lot of little things and the manufacturers if we could pull it together where we’ve got the marketing capabilities. Let’s duplicate what they’re doing down there on the high end for the self serves. Can we create a loyalty program? Can we create a club plan? Perry: On that educational board, we had a number that corresponded with everything that was on that machine and told them the proper way to wash their car to get the best result. Again, I can’t give you anything empirical, but it did result in about 30% more time usage in the bay. Dale: About 20 years ago we actually developed a video meter. So when you turned the knob to tire cleaner a video played, and this was before we had this kind of technology. It showed you how to put tire cleaner on and then it prompted you to go to the next service, pre-soak and all that. We showed it to the ICA at the time and people said, “that’s cool!” but nobody bought it. Perry: We just do it with static signs – put them on the wall opposite from where the meter is and just describe here’s how to clean a car. Everybody pulls in there and they start turning and flipping things. Tim: I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me, “how do I use this?” You try to explain to put your tire cleaner on first… Brad: The general motoring public all have their own way of doing it and I’ll go show them and

they’ll say, “I never knew that.” Not many of our customers know. Tim: But when you get them in that bay you don’t want them reading a list or watching TV, unless that meter’s running - you want them putting in that money! Perry: For us, the idea was, at least on the conveyor side, you have low ph, you have high ph, you’ve got dwell times - there are things that need to happen. All that, if it were going onin a self serve bay would equal time and time is money. If I put the boards up on the opposite interior wall and I’m actually teaching the consumer how to properly wash the car then I’m going to get more time out of it and that was the whole concept. Dale: There have been all kinds of variations of signs in the bay, and actually, I think you can oversign a bay to a certain degree – which one catches your attention today? But we did the video thing and tried to do exactly what you’re talking about. That video would only play after you put money in. So if you want to educate them then they have to pay to be educated, but you’ve got to change over time on the different services. People didn’t really gravitate to it at that time. The biggest thing that I’ve ever seen that really worked is an operator out there at his own wash showing people how to use things properly and taking his own money out of his pocket and sticking it in there and saying, “here, let me show you how to get your tires clean.

Let me show you this service.” One of my favorite customers I’ve ever had was a gentleman from South Carolina. He was the epitome of customer service. When you came up to his self serve carwash – free coffee. All the police officers were hanging out there. This guy, even at night, took his quarters home and cleaned them. So all the quarters that came out of his change machine looked like brand new minted quarters. He and his wife would have dinner and sit there and watch Jeopardy and clean quarters while they sat there. But everybody would come and get the quarters. When your kid looses a tooth, everybody came to his wash to get the clean quarters and say the tooth fairy brought them clean quarters. He’d come out there with a big smile and thank them for coming and he’d show them how to use anything and everything he had. He had the best business in the world there. Are you doing the best you can with your business? That’s a question we all have to ask and challenge ourselves to be better tomorrow than we are today.

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by Lisa Lyons

Past ruminations on self serve walls may hold the secret to the future... PREFACE FROM THE EDITOR: When we decided to resurface the SSCWN, I made a list of ten basic topics that inevitably come up when you get a group of self serve operators in a room together. We made it our goal to go in-depth with two or three of these items each year. Since we’ve already covered “credit cards” and “water costs,” the next item to check off was “walls.” In conversations at trade shows and via email with seasoned operators about self serve car wash walls, they would inevitably mention this highly-regarded article from

An Eternal Question

I can trace the genesis of my involvement with this article on bay walls to an interesting and spirited exchange on the Auto Care Forum ( The thread that pulled me in was the eternal, infernal question that has long nagged at virtually every long time owner of a SS carwash. If Shakespeare’s Hamlet had been a SS operator, he might’ve said it thus: “To paint or not to paint my bays walls -THAT is the question!”

the much-lauded Lisa Lyons. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I reached out to Lisa to see if she was interested in updating this piece from a decade ago. The only hitch? Not much has changed. At least not in the range of Lisa’s experience, which still centers on painting existing concrete block walls. The material which seems to have made the greatest strides in terms of popularity in our industry and technology is PVC walls. SSCWN will go in-depth (really in-depth!) on that topic in a later issue, but we didn’t want to put the

I’m a second generation SS carwash operator who has picked the brains of innumerable other operators at a slew of WCA and ICA expos over the last couple decades. Over that time, I’ve heard of so any options for SS carwash walls and there are as many different opinions on which choice is the best one. I do believe, however, that there would be consensus about my wish list of qualities the very best -- the ultimate! -- wall product should be: t &"4: 50 */45"-- -- taking only a couple days to cover your yourself. t 7&3:%63"#-& -- last a long, loonnnng time... about 20 years would be ideal. During that

cart before the horse. Instead we’ve decided to set the stage by reprinting Lisa’s original article (first printed in Fall 2004) here with only minor edits for space and clarity. It includes some out-dated pricing information (although in some cases you’ll be surprised at how little those prices have changed!) but all-in-all this really is an exhaustive study on car wash wall coverings, as well as an excellent resource for measuring how much materials and options have changed (or haven’t changed, as the case may be!) over the last decade.

time, it’d be virtually “bullet-proof” against graffiti, vandalism, and any climate conditions. t -08 ."*/5&/"/$& "/% &"4: 50 $-&"/ -not too much more than a hi-pressure rinse off would be great. t "&45)&5*$"--:1-&"4*/( -- adding a dimension of design and color to improve the appearance and curbside appeal of your wash. And last but not least, it would be… t */&91&/4*7& -- okay cheap...let’s say less than $2 a square foot! C’mon now -- is that really too much to ask?!? We’ll see... {continued } ‡ FALL 2015 ‡



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Every spring, the community of City Heights in San Diego has a fair where they close down the street in front of my carwash. I’ve been told the fair is done so it will attract people to the area so it will improve the business climate. Of course, every year the street is shut down on a weekend, so I lose a prime time for business. But since I know I’ll be shut down then, it’s the time I choose to put another coat of latex paint on my sad-looking, painted carwash walls. The yearly painting had been going on for long, long before I took over the wash four years ago. I can’t even imagine how many coats of paint are on the walls. I use to follow the paint manufacturer's’ recommendations and spent a lot of time prepping the walls. They would look great for a few weeks, then someone would come along and get the walls dirty and getting tar or cement on them, or graffiti them really bad. After about six months, they would start looking a little “Tired” again. But then it was the yearly fair and it was time to do it all over again. The last couple of years, however, I decided not to spend a lot of time prepping and the results are just about the same. I am currently in the process of updating the carwash and a new type of wall covering -- something considerably more permanent -- is on the top of my list of things to do. One concrete block manufacturer’s website describe the proper way to paint their product was to use latex epoxy paint. They also noted that it would have to be repainted every three to five years to maintain its appearance. This was not for a SS carwash where the environment is a lot harsher. Well known operator Pat Crowe wrote a piece for SSCWN back in 1991 which also recommended latex epoxy paint as the only paint product that paint companies would recommend for painting a self serve car wash. Pat was a former painting contractor and had experienced the same problems I have with paint in the carwash environment. He also had the same opinion: namely, do not get on the paint merry-go-round! Following are excerpts from Pat’s article:

Carwash Paints of Choice There are basically three types of paint used in carwashes: t -"5&9 - the least expensive; water soluble and the easiest to “splash on;” and the least durable. t "-,:%&/".&- - oil based; commonly used and referred to as “swimming pool paint;” moderate in cost, durability, and ease of application t &109: (“plastic like”) paint - most durable, most expensive, and most demanding of skill, wall prep and patience...and, we emphatically note: Epoxy is the only paint recommended by all the manufacturers for car wash walls. Because oil base and latex paints expand and contract at different rates, it’s generally recommended not to put one on over the other or peel-

ing and cracking can result -- especially in climates with dramatic shifts in temperature. Dry surfaces are absolutely essential to many paint applications and not at all to some others. Some exterior paints are designed to “chalk,” thus covering the dirt on light colors, especially nice for urban areas. Paint manufacturers vary their formulas for different climates because weather conditions make a difference. In short, paint chemistry is high tech stuff. For many owners, paint seems like it just has to be least expensive. Most carwash owners have at least limited experience with painting. And since many owners do their own rehabbing, paint appears to be an appealing solution and well suited to do-it-yourself application and inexpensive. Having been a painting contractor, let me testify unequivocally there’s much more to it. In presenting bids to potential customers I often said, “i’m fairly sure you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how little it is going to cost to paint your building. But I’m afraid you’ll be absolutely shocked at the cost of preparing.” Often the cost of preparation exceeds the cost of painting per se. Sandblasting is often recommended in wall prep. As Paul Edwards of Pittsburg Paints told me, “Surface preparation is extremely important. You must apply any paint on a solid base. We recommend first sandblasting the walls, then a coat of filler, followed by two coats of our epoxy. It will then take 7 to 10 days to be fully cured.” In many cases, sandblasting is the only practical way to get a “solid base” on which to apply paint. Sandblasting is time consuming, messy and not cheap. Even though some rental stores will rent sandblasters, it’s generally beyond what most doit-yourselfers would care to attempt. Protective

equipment is a must: beyond airtight eye covering, you should also use a respirator/mask to prevent breathing in silica dust -- which cause silicosis and lead to lung cancer. One can throw on a cheap coat of paint and redo the job every six months or so. In today’s world of professional carwashing, that sure seems questionable. But 24 years ago that’s exactly what I was doing. It took a while, but I’ve learned my lesson. One final observation: If painted walls were the best answer to carwash wall coverings, I’m sure that we would see many more of them. Properly done, paint is one way to cover walls in carwashes. But as the industry has grown and evolved, painted walls are becoming more and more rare every year. The message should be clear. After re-reading Pat’s information on paint, I thought I would go and price some of his suggestions for good latex epoxy paints. The only problem I had was that none of them, believe it or not, were available in California! California has lower VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds/Chemicals) standards for paint than most of the other states. The most common definition of a VOC is any organic (carbon-based) compound that evaporates at ambient temperatures. One paint contractor told me it’s all the good stuff that makes paint stick to walls and keep its gloss. What does this mean if you are trying to find a good paint for a self-serve carwash bay in California? Well, I was given a sly “nod n’ a wink” by two of the three paint suppliers I went to who said that maybe I should try buying my paint for my carwash in Arizona instead. Yeah -- thanks a lot, guys, but that’s illegal. The third paint supplier at first tried to sell me a low-VOC version of a latex epoxy. He wanted me to use a block filler first, and also wanted me to put an urethane coating on top of the paint. I think we were up to approximately $151 a gallon when he just looked at me and said, “Here, try this oilbased waterproofing paint.” He said I would have to sandblast first, but it just might hold up. Okay, enough horror stories about paint. Let’s talk about the good side of painting. Yes, there really are some SS operators who are pleased as punch with paint! For example Pat Hall in Bardstown, Kentucky, is well known on the Auto Care Forum website for having a successful paint story. He used both the latex epoxy and oil-based epoxy on his carwashes. THe oil-base began to peel almost immediately. However, latex epoxy has held up very well for him. It has been almost six years since he painted. Looking at the picture of Pat’s wash, I’d be happy if my painted walls looked that good after six months. I also spoke to several operators who have used the acrylic/enamel paints and after four years’ use they are still looking good. Another option often used is to paint just the top and exterior walls of the carwash and then use another kind of material (such as fiberglass pan{continued } ‡ FALL 2015 ‡



Mural at Lisa Lyons Buggy Bath Car Wash els) for the majority of the interior bay wall -- the central â&#x20AC;&#x153;splashwallâ&#x20AC;? sections on either side of a bay which can be cleaned aggressively and replaced easily. This leaves the option of using paint as a means to bring different colors into and around your carwash, without the headaches of dealing with trying to keep painted bay walls clean. At one of my washes, the Community Development Agency painted two murals on my exterior wall as a project to spruce up the neighborhood. It has been ďŹ ve years and the murals still look great. And similar to that -- in the Spring 2004 issue of the SSCWN, there were photos of the Whale of a Wash near Seattle. It too had a great mural painted on an exterior wall that helped create a very distinctive identity for a wash surrounded by competitors. One of the undeniably best things about paint is the wide variety of colors and design possibilities it offers you to make your businessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; appearance appealing and more unique looking and memorable. I tried -- I really tried! -- to ďŹ nd some things in common with operators who have been happy with their painted carwashes to see if there was a common thread so we could follow their example. The only common thread I found was: The painted block or brick walls that had never been painted before. Other than that, there was such a variety of types of paint used, block ďŹ ller or no block ďŹ ller, dark or light color, dry walls or damp walls, extreme changes in temperature, etcetera, etcetera -- just too darn many variables to get a deďŹ nitive answer. Although itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth the mention that operators in the almost perpetually arid Southwest, such as those in Arizona, report more satisfactory results with paint type products than any other part of the country.

Update From Lisa, Fall 2015: I tried the epoxy paint on my four bay car wash in Linda Vista. It was a painted concrete block

76 Â&#x2021; FALL 2015 Â&#x2021;

building that had been covered by cement (like they use in a pool). Like all painted walls they needed to be done about every 6 months to look good. I was tired of painting so I tried the epoxy paint. They had to power wash off the old paint and then apply the two-part epoxy paint. I also painted the vacuum islands. The whole process took a week and cost was $20,000. The contractor didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t break down the cost of the paint, so I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have that number. The paint was from Stratashield, but the one in the Kleen-Rite catalog looked like the same kind of product. It has held up pretty good. The guy told me it should last for 10 years without having to paint. I am not going to try it at my other locations because I lease those buildings and am not willing to spend that much on a building I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t own.

Structural Tile/ Pre-Faced Block

There are a couple of structural masonry products that have seen considerable use in SS bays and many tunnel washes around the country. They are very similar in look, installation, performance and price: t 4536$563"-(-";&%5*-& is a product that has a ceramic tile glaze ďŹ red onto both sides of a clay block suitable for weight-bearing, structural construction...not just a tile â&#x20AC;&#x153;veneer.â&#x20AC;? t 13&'"$&% $0/$3&5& #-0$, also has both sides coated but uses a very durable â&#x20AC;&#x153;plastic-likeâ&#x20AC;? polymer coating that is applied and baked on so it becomes an integral part of the concrete block unit. They both come in a great variety of colors -â&#x20AC;&#x153;from white to black and every color in the rainbowâ&#x20AC;? -- and if you want to go ďŹ rst class and have the budget for it, these are very elegant looking walls. They are generally used in new construction,

but they can be used in rehabbing existing â&#x20AC;&#x153;plainâ&#x20AC;? block walls. Danny Bryant at Elgin-Butler, a manufacturer of structural glazed tile described using a standard 4â&#x20AC;? two-sided block and having your contractor cut it in half. This is called a â&#x20AC;&#x153;soap unit.â&#x20AC;? A wall tie attached to the existing block is used, then the soap unit is put on, using an epoxy grout to make it impervious to water penetration. Obviously, all that brick cutting is going to add substantially to installation costs. Glazed brick has an incredibly long history and has been proven over time...over the ages. Elgin-Butler has been in the brick/tile business since 1873, and they have an interesting photo in their brochure of an Egyptian glazed brick thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more than 2,000 years old. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen car wash walls less than 10 years old that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look much worse than that ancient brick. Of course, being in such perfectly dry/arid and stable environment can help preserve everything from glazed brick tile walls to mummies. Which, yet again, underscores the advantage that operators in arid parts of the country have when it comes to walls. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking to build or totally rehab a wash â&#x20AC;&#x153;on the cheap,â&#x20AC;? this is probably not the way to go. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve received cost estimates ranging from $7-8 a unit (one double-sided block) and an installed price from $16 to $25 a square foot. The installation price varies dramatically, depending on what part of the country you are in. For example, it can easily cost 5-7 times as much in the Northeast states and California versus the Southeast! Regardless of the relatively high upfront cost of structural tile or pre-faced brick, the operators I spoke to who had a carwash with these products were quite satisďŹ ed. They take a long term view. First of all , their walls are ďŹ nished bright and beautiful right from the get-go. And then consider that the cost of new installation is less with a 2-sided ďŹ nished faced block when compared to the total cost of hiring masons to ďŹ rst build a basic concrete block/brick walls and then (maybe six years later) to cover that grungy block with new tile veneer -- ďŹ rst on one side of the wall and then on the other. And, of course, not having to replace or cover the walls for ten years or so with relatively easy maintenance along the way may make it worth the investment for many operators. Jim Coleman has been using Elgin Butler Brick exclusively for almost 10 years now in their new construction projects. The walls have held up really well...even in the nOrthern â&#x20AC;&#x153;Freeze Belt.â&#x20AC;? They had been using a hydroďŹ&#x201A;uoric acid cleaner on the walls, but had trouble with it removing the glaze. They now recommend using the Kleen-Wall quarterly to clean the ďŹ lm off the walls if you are a â&#x20AC;&#x153;pickyâ&#x20AC;? carwash operator, or at least semi-annually. The walls remain clean by just a daily spraying down with a hi-pressure rinse. The glaze is very reďŹ&#x201A;ective at night especially and has a great, classy curbside appeal. The Elgin Butler bricks used by Coleman resemble elegant ceramic tile veneer, but {continued }

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DO YOUR WALLS LOOK ANCIENT? given the “unibody” construction of structural tile, it’s considerably more durable than the ceramic look-alike wall covering. Installation was challenging. Because this material is so tough, they were having some problems with brick cracking using a masonry drill bit to attach the signage, so now they attach the signage in the bays using silicone adhesive. When they must drill the brick (for brackets for the wands, mat and Bubble Brush holders) they use diamond bit drills and nylon tapit anchors. About 95 percent of the new washes the Jim Coleman Company has built use “ivory” as the main color. The bricks cost about $4.90 each for a double-sided brick which are 8x8 block and 4” thick. THey then use accent color ($6.50 double-sided brick) in a checkerboard, stripe or zig zag design. THe equipment room walls, however, are done in a single sided brick which only cost $3.50 each. The bricks have held up amazingly well in the SS environment and continue to look really nice. “Normal self serve dirt” comes off easily. The bricks can be scratched or broken, you really must try to damage them. One contractor I spoke with did point out a couple of problems. This is very tough stuff! So you will need to use a diamond tip drill bit to drill holes in the walls. And you should be sure that your building is made from the same lot because there can be color variations. The pre-faced concrete block will have minimal color fading over the years while the ceramic tile glaze keeps its original color...but not forever. Afterall, I noticed that after 2,000 years, that ancient Egyptian, white glazed brick appears to be a bit faded.

impact, chemical, and temperature extremes). There are established guidelines and minimum performance levels for the manufacture of tile. Tile guidelines made in the United States are done by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) together with the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) cover manufacturing standards for tiles made overseas. These standards can be very helpful in choosing the right tile for a carwash. Established guidelines and criteria include: t 8"5&3"#40315*0/ -- very important in a wet environment like a carwash. t #0/%453&/(5) -- measures how well the tile is able to remain adhered to mortar (Portland Cement) t #3&",*/(453&/(5) and *.1"$53&4*45"/$& -- resistance to physical impact, weight, and bending. t "#3"4*7& )"3%/&44 -- specifies the surface finish’s tolerance to scratching and various forms of abrasion. t $)&.*$"- 3&4*45"/$& -- the ability to withstand exposure to acid and base caustics. t $3";*/( -- establishes the tile’s glaze resistance to forming very minute, tiny surface cracks that somewhat resemble hazing. t '3&&;&5)"83&4*45"/$& -- a measure of the tile’s ability to withstand the expansion and contraction cycles that come with changes in temperature. When selecting tile, the industry experts say

Ceramic Tile

Some of the very most beautiful carwashes I’ve seen have used tile as a wall cover. Tile can be a dynamic, elegant choice for a carwash. Using different shapes, textures, colors, and patterns can create a very attractive, clean and modern looking carwash. A carwash near me used tile to renovate their 30-year-old painted block walls. It looked beautiful! Its gleaming white tiles really made the place look sharp. I was jealous. However, it’s been about five years since they installed the tiles and on a recent visit I saw one bay was missing about half a wall of tile. The other bay tiles were covered in soap scum and mildew, the tile was pitted, and the glaze was just a memory. What went so terribly wrong?! It's true with virtually all wall coverings, but especially so with tile. And that is: Proper material, installation and maintenance are all essential to achieve a long lasting finish.

Classes and Standards Tiles in a SS carwash environment need to be highly resistance to stress (mechanical/physical

80 ‡ FALL 2015 ‡

Tile car wash wall Grovedall Car Wash in Australia

Tile car wash wall from Rub-a-Dub Car Wash in New Zealand photo from

that there is one most important to question to ask your supplier. Namely: Is this tile manufactured in accordance with the stands specified in ANSI 137.1-1988? If the answer to that question is “yes,” you will e relying on your supplier’s reputation and honesty that your tile will perform as promised. While there are no absolute industry standards, the above criteria are factored in to a five point scale by the ASTM that the Porcelain Enamel Institute uses to classify title. Class 1 is spec’d for “Very Light” interior use only with no foot traffic, up to Class 5 tiles, which are suitable for “Heavy to Very Heavy” traffic and exterior use. Do you have to be absolutely familiar with all those standards? Perhaps not, but your tile supplier sure should be! That’s especially true in those areas of the country that experience dramatic shifts in temperature. It’s an important question to ask before choosing a tile for your carwash. You may expect Class 5+ performance, but be disappointed in a “bargain” priced tile that’s from a CLass 1 or even a defective lot. All tiles are certainly NOT created equal!

Ceramic Vs. Porcelain So what is the best tile to use for a SS carwash? Generally, fired clay tile is classified as “ceramic” or “porcelain.” But you’ll note that the title of this section is “Ceramic Tile.” You should be aware that technically, all fired clay tiles come under the broad classification “ceramic” -- even those processed into a porcelain product. So there can be some confusion and concern when you hear some suppliers refer to their porcelain products as “ceramics.” While all porcelain tiles are technically ceramic, all ceramic tiles are definitely not porcelain. So what’s the difference?!? The basic difference between true porcelain tile and ceramic tile is that porcelain is considerably more dense and fired to be more durable and, most importantly -- much more resistant to water absorption. There always seems to be exceptions in confront and befuddling the carwash industry, and there can be some exceptions in the case of tile. But as a pretty sound rule of thumb: 100% of porcelain tile is the best, most recommended tile for carwashes. There are two types of porcelain tiles spec’d for exterior use: t 7*53*'*&% which is rated by the ANSI to have a water absorption rate of 0.5% to 3%. t *.1&37*064 which only absorbs 0.0% to 0.5% water. The water absorption rating is very important in selecting tile in a wet environment...especially so in areas that are subject to freeze/thaw cycles. The less water absorbed the better -- obviously. It’s also one of the major reasons some ceramic tiles fail in a carwash environment. Besides being impervious to water absorption, porcelain tile holds up very well to chemicals and also to chipping be{continued }

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DO YOUR WALLS LOOK ANCIENT? cause it is both very dense and strong, plus it’s the same color throughout the tile. You’ll also find that tile is also classified by its application -- as either “Wall’ or the more durable “Floor.” We’ve heard from operators that they have gotten the longest, best performance after choosing “Floor” tile even though they were put on bay walls. Is tile a do-it-yourself project? Laying tile is not difficult if you have had any experience with it. However, unless you are familiar with all the correct material to use, the proper use of that material and the proper installation techniques, the investment of tiling your carwash should probably be left to the professionals. The other important question to ask is -- does your tile installer really know what he’s doing?! Before you choose an installer, familiarize yourself with the proper techniques recommended for installing tile on an exterior wall in a wet environment. One website with a lot of detailed information on tile installation is A few pointed questions can make sure you are choosing a qualified installer. Jim Reeks is the owner of T&K Carwash, a four bay self-serve carwash in Sydney, New York. What is unusual about Jim is he is also a tile distributor. He installed porcelain tile on his carwash when he built it in 1994. A 12x12 porcelain tile installed on block walls (the equipment room) and on wood studs 12” on center with Wonderboard as a backing. Wonderboard was used because it is impervious to water (several tile suppliers recommended Wonderboard also as the best choice). Unglazed porcelain tile was used and if he had to do it again, Jim would use glazed tile because it would be easier to clean. THe ivory color tile with a blue strip does look good after 10 years of use. It reflects light and was a good choice for the appearance of his carwash. The cost for installation of good porcelain tile is about $4 to $8 a square foot (labor and materials). Seconds at his carwash were used to save money. He has only replaced one tile because of damage in the 10 years he has had the wash. Jim noted there has been no vertical damage to grout, but there have been a few problems with the horizontal grout surfaces. Water in a few problem areas tends to collect on the surface and has required regrouting and also a silicone caulk to seal the problem areas. Jim also recommended using a mortar with a latex additive to increase the dimensional flexibility of the tile. All tile expands and contrasts with temperature and moisture changes. The expansion joints are a critical dimension in tile installation. Greg Frey of Polynet (Sarasota, FL) has specialized in creating beautiful, imaginative SS carwash walls using tile for over 15 years. Over those years, the SSCWN has done several articles that have featured numerous outstanding washes designed/ built/supplied by Frey’s company. He uses colored

epoxy resin grout that matches the accent tile in the bay. By using the colored grout, it prevents the dirt from showing easily. The tile they use is a fire ceramic tile usually 8x8, but recently they have been using larger 10x10 or even 12x12. Greg recommends using Klean Wall, a mild acid cleaner to prevent etching of the tile. Bottom line: tile can work for a SS carwash, but you must be prepared to pay what it takes to make sure it’s done right and then maintain it properly. I recall an “On the Road” story in a past issue of the SSCWN that recounted what happened at a wahsh where the owner didn’t do his due diligence when it came to tile walls. He bought “bargain” ceramic tile which lost its glaze after only a few years. The frustrated owner then added insult to injury and put paint over the tile...which peeled like crazy!

FRP Panels

Pat Crowe covered FRP panels back in 1991. Back then, the panels were taking the industry by storm as a popular choice for remodels and even in some new construction, too. The information he provided then still holds true: The technical name for the panel material is “Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic” -- a uniform mat of glass fibers embedded in an organic (plastic) resin. So these panels are actually as much plastic as they are fiberglass which is added to increase durability. Yet they are most often referred to as just “fiberglass” or “glass board.” They are available in a variety of colors and the first manufacturers listed also offer differing grades, thicknesses, and sizes of this material. FRP has been the product of choice as a wall covering material for rehabbing many carwash walls around the country. Just as a professional quality paint job involves a good bit more than throwing on a quick coat of paint, there’s a bit more to the installation of these panels than one might anticipate. The panels can be glued on, screwed on, or attached with nylon truss head drive rivets. The combination of rivets and ad-

hesives is the method most commonly suggested by the manufacturers to cover carwash walls. Once again, surface preparation is important. The surface to which the panels are to be attached should be smooth and flat. Block walls may appear to be flat, but in installing these panels care must be taken to avoid a wavy appearance. Some irregularities in block surface can become more noticeable when the large, smooth panels are laid down over them. To totally avoid little waves or bulges requires doing a number of things right. A “flawless” surface is possible if protruding surface irregularities are removed or recessions in the walls are filled. One manufacturer says, “Concrete block walls (especially if irregular) may require a leveling coat of plaster.” Plastering to prep bay walls is certainly an extraordinary thing to do. If, however, the walls are made nice and smooth, it may be possible to attach the panels with adhesive only -100 percent coverage with very thorough sealing of seams and ends, thereby eliminating the time and expense of drilling and hammering in many hundreds of rivets. This technique is mentioned as an option in some manufacturer literature, but as far as we know it’s only a “theory” because we’ve heard of no one who has actually done it. Manufacturers provide numerous accessory pieces to use with the panels. There are division bars for joining adjacent panels, end caps, inside and outside corners, two piece vinyl moldings which snap into place are available to cover the seams. The panels do expand with heat and contract with cold. In an 8-foot span one needs to allow ¼” for expansion and contraction. Moreover, the holes for fasteners must be drilled slightly oversize also to allow for expansion and contraction. The head of the fasteners (truss head nylon rivets) keeps the oversize holes from showing and the accessory pieces used t the seams hide the necessary expansion space between panels. The recommended method of installation is to use both adhesive and fasteners on a clean, dry, flat surface. The fasteners should start about 1” {continued }

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DO YOUR WALLS LOOK ANCIENT? from the edges of panels and should be staggered at the seams. Pre-drilling of a stack of panels in a symmetric layout will ensure a neatly organized appearance. Start fastening at one edge and work toward the other to avoid bulges. It is possible for one man to install these panels. But all by yourself, it is very difficult to wrestle, position, hold and fasten such large sheets -- most commonly 4’x8’ or 4’x10’ with even larger sheets available. FRP installation is really a two man job, and even a third could be kept busy cutting, drilling and trimming sheets while the other two focus on attaching the panels to the walls. In order to insure a moisture proof installation all the edges of the panels (which will be in end caps or division bars at the seams) should be sealed with a flexible silicone caulking. The sealant goes in the space allowed for expansion and contraction, but because it’s flexible it allows for the panels to shrink and expand. IMPORTANT UPDATE: The above info regarding FRP installation was what carwash owners were being told by the FRP industry's suppliers in the early ‘90s. By 2000, however, their instructions regarding adhesives have changed considerably. You’ll now find, for example, in Sequentia’s latest installation manual very specific new guidelines for high moisture applications. Namely: Adhesives are NOT recommended for mounting FRP on car wash walls -- rivets only they now say! Nor should adhesives be used on any non-porous walls (such as tile, glazed block, metal, etc.) When it comes to allowing for expansion/contraction, these panels are less forgiving and you cannot be casual in installation. The panels can develop unsightly bulges and even crack if there is insufficient clearance for the rivets and between panels. Another aspect of FRP panels that some find a bit “unsightly” are the seams. There are those who think that seams may be harder to clean. Or, perhaps, they just don’t care for the way seam strips “interrupt the visual flow” of a wall. Seuentia suggests that type of individual consider rolled FRP which comes on rolls up to 500’ long and 9 ½’ high. It can be cut (on site or at the factory) into single sheets large enough to cover an entire bay walls. There are few operators who have avoided seams and minimized rivets by installing long, custom cut sheets of FRP (or cutting their own to size from a continuous roll) that cover the entire length of a nice, smooth block wall. We note, however, that the Spot Not SS wash franchise (headquartered in Joplin, MS) has done a number of their bay walls throughout the Midwest in that slick, distinctive manner.

FRP Costs Somewhat amazingly, the costs for FRP mentioned in the SSCWN article some 13 years ago are still valid today...with the exception of labor.

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As you might expect, costs vary widely. In ricing the panels from several suppliers I was quoted as low as 55 cents a square foot and a high price of about $1.25 a square foot, with a half dozen prices in between. Quite a spread! And bear in mind to rehab walls one needs more than just hte panels. There are also accessory pieces for top and bottom, seams and corners; rivets, adhesive; and caulking/sealant. One can find 4x8 sheets at local lumber yards at about $30 a sheet. Seemingly good buys and deals abound. But, as we saw with ceramic tiles -- all FRP panels are not created equal, and there are basically three things that affect FRP panel price: t $0-03 -- you can get virtually any color you want, but there is a surcharge and minimum quantity involved with custom colors apart from white, cream and about 10 “standard” colors. t 5)*$,/&44 -- panels range in thickness from about 4/100” to 12/100”. The gauge universally recommended for carwash application is 9/100” (just under 1/10”). Anything heavier is unnecessary, but if you go any thinner *the next size down is 6/100”) you must have smooth, solid wall to help reduce risk of damage. t 26"/5*5: -- all manner of quantity price deals can be cut with retailers. Many are willing to “negotiate” down from suggested retail price. In fact, we’ve heard that in large enough quantities (even less than two 6-bays’ worth) it’s possible to buy direct from some manufacturers. Bought in quantities of 1000, the rivets should be about six cents each with each 4x8 sheet requiring 28 rivets. The accessory pieces run about $1 to $2 each depending on type. The adhesive in five gallon buckets using 100 percent coverage should add about 20 cents a square foot to the cost, plus there’s a tube of silicone sealant ($3-$5) needed for each couple of sheets. A typical four-bay carwash with the panels put on the 8 interior walls would need 2,000-3,000 square feet of material; 8-10 five gallon buckets of adhesives, accessory pieces for each top, bottom and seam, and a half dozen or so tubes of sealing caulk. That puts the overall material cost in the $2,000$4,000 range for a 4-bay carwash. That’s $500 to $1,000 per bay for materials only -- no labor. But, as usual, careful shopping can save “tons” of money. Factory seconds (panels “blemished” by chipped corners or perhaps a virtually invisible pinhole, irregular sizes, etc.) are sometimes available. I was, for example, offered 44” wide panels *cut down from the standard 48” and leftover from a special order) at a deep discount. For the person not inclined to do-it-yourself activities, the cost of labor has to be included. The best source of contractors who do this type of work is usually the supplier of the materials. In strong union areas which craftsmen install the panels is sometimes a point of jurisdictional dispute, but generally the work goes to the carpenters.

To get a focus on the cost of a turn key installation of the panels I called Gordon Light. He is a veteran carwash owner and recently outfitted a 10-bay carwash. He rehabbed al the walls using 4’x8’ white panels. He shopped around for the panels and hired a local carpenter he knew. The carpenter had not done such panels before, but he was a skilled craftsman and carefully read the instructions. The carpenter charged $10 an hour and $5 an hour for his helper. Gordon said, “The materials were about $500 a bay and the labor about $300 a bay. And I’ve gotten lots of compliments on how it looks.” Most readers probably those labor rates are very modest. But that does tell us that it takes about 40 man hours to do each bay. Perhaps a little less, since these men hadn’t done this exact type of work before. The numbers also confirm that in areas where labor rates are $25 an hour the labor alone could be $1,000 a bay. I got much the same sort of cost information from Ross Alexander, a Canadian car wash operator who gives the FRP panels rave reviews. Ross said he spent about $4,200 (American dollars) to get his 6-bay covered with the panels. He used rivets only (no adhesive) to mount his panels. Ross said, “They’re a little loose and flexible in places, but I like that because we get so much ice in cold weather. All I have to do is hit the panels and since they’re a bit flexible, the ice cracks and falls right off.” Ross also mentioned that in addition to the daily wash downs with the wand in the bay, that about once a month the panels are cleaned with an acid solution and a stiff nylon brush. “That keeps them shining and bright -- just like a new nickel,” he said. Depending on volume and ambient dirt those cleanings with a good acidic solution are more typically done every other month to as infrequently as twice a year. It’s clear the cost is higher than painting, even when sandblasting is included in the cost of preparing walls for painting . But with a life expectancy that well exceeds most paints and such a bright, neat, clean appearance, it's easy to understand the lasting popularity of FRP panels in the carwash industry.

Some FRP Tips I got this piece of advice from several operators: as a hedge against expansion/contraction problems, “try to pick the hottest, most humid day to install your FRP panels and save yourself from having to do it again.” Also, nowadays FRP panels come in designer surfaces that look like granite and marble for a really “fancy” car wash bay. One other benefit worth mentioning is that you don’t have to close your whole wash to install the FRP panels. Many of the other wall coverings require anywhere from 2 days to almost 2 weeks to complete the installation When it comes to rehab{continued }

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DO YOUR WALLS LOOK ANCIENT? bing a wash, minimizing the downtime can be a huge deciding factor in choosing FRP panels. I also spoke to Scott Gray (Soapy’s Car Wash in Idaho Falls) who put FRP panels on most of his SS bay walls and some of his automatics about four years ago. Scott said they clean up much easier than painted walls and are much brighter, too. He installed them himself and at his first wash he used a lot of adhesive and nylon rivets. This helped keep panels from rippling. Scott said, “We go from minus 20 degrees to over 100 degrees during the year and they have held up fine.” He prefers to install at least 9’ high panels in the bays and has not always gone to the ceiling with them. “If the wall is painted white behind them, you don’t notice that they do not go all the way up the wall,” Scott explained. “Another big plus -- during our bitterly cold winters, ice does not build up on the walls with the FRP panels. Before I installed FRP, in the cold winter months ice would sometimes build up over one-foot thick on the bay walls. The only way to get rid of it was to chop it off with an axe. One time I did not get it done quick enough and on a warm day a huge sheet of ice fell off the wall and landed on the side of a car. It did over $1,600 damage to the car. The $1,600 would have paid to install two bays’ worth of FRP. With FRP you can just slap the wall with your hand and a small, thin sheet of ice falls off with no fuss.”

Spray-On Fiberglass Several operators told me how they were searching for a sleek, modern looking wall treatment that would allow them to incorporate more dynamic colors into the design of their carwashes. Something like the effect you can achieve with paint, but they definitely did not want to use paint. Their solution was found in SOF -- Spray-On Fiberglass. The existing walls must be sandblasted to remove old paint, dirt, grease and grime before applying the fiberglass. Generally, the process will take about one week to prepare the walls and apply the material to a typical existing masonry 5-6 bay wash. New construction, however, can be coated in as little as 10 hours. The polymer can be applied to virtually anything, but the fiberglass is not very compatible with metal (corrugated especially). Unlike FRP panels, paint, or even tile -- this is not a do-it-yourself application! This form of fiberglass coating is technically tricky to apply -- requiring time, skill, and correct mix of proper materials. It’s a six-step process involving very thorough surface prep followed by resin sealing coat; fiberglass and resin; resin barrier coat; finish preparation; and finally a high build top coat. That creates a coating about ¼” thick. The finished surface is not exactly like glass -- not super smooth and flat. The finished product does have a slick, very hard surface and resembles ceramic tile in weight/density and finish. It has a very subtle mottled or just barely percep-

tible dimpled look, which can only be discerned on an angle in the right light. Actually it looks better (to my eye) than a super high sheen “glass-glass” look that is not so forgiving of any impact damage or overspray film/stain. The warranty is for 10 years and the cost is approximately $4 a square foot for both material and labor. The finished surface is bright, highly light reflective and seamless. Being such a smooth, slick surface, SOF cleans up easily and “bay algae” (mold and mildew) cannot easily get a toe hold either. Another benefit of SOF is the ability to add different colors, logos, stripes and even signage into the design. Five years ago, Bill Sartor of San Antonio, TX, had the fiberglass applied to the walls of one of his older SS carwashes that needed renovating. He picked a white background with a teal blue and red stripe. Bill reports that the walls have held up really well and only has had to repair one spot where a customer’s vehicle hit his wall damaging the fiberglass coating. It was repaired with fiberglass tape. Other operators have reported to us that do-it-yourself repairs (certainly on more major damage) are often not possible. Typically to get a clean, discreet “patch” applied to a damaged wall, you’ll need the services of the pro who did the initial application. To maintain that sleek, clean look of the walls, once about every four months or so Bill uses Klean Wall, which is manufactured by AP Formulators Chemical Company and distributed by Jim Coleman Company. Klean Wall was developed by the owner of AP Formulators, Allan Palermo, and does not contain hydrofluoric acid. It does contain, however, phosphoric acid among other ingredients to clean the walls. As with any product that has a caustic acid component, it is important to follow the company’s safety data on wearing the correct protective equipment when using the product. Four years ago, Dean Smith in Fort Collins, CO, also used the spray-on fiberglass with good results. He had concrete block walls that were getting old and tired looking. It took a week to complete and process at his 3/1 SS/IBA carwash. The fiberglass was blown on all the way from ceiling to floor to prevent moisture from getting behind the fiberglass onto the walls. It has held up well against the harsher climate. He is very pleased with the results and agreed that it is labor intensive, specialized skill and was more than happy to pay someone to do it professionally...and guarantee the work. Dean had tried several methods of maintaining the walls. He has now settled on a simple formula for a brush-on, spray-off cleaning solution that consist of one part muriatic acid and one part water used approximately every six months.

Spray-On Plastic Spray-on plastic polymers are probably familiar to most everyone who is into pickup trucks.

These polymers are commonly sprayed on to line/protect truck beds. We should note that spray-on fiberglass and spray-on plastics may appear to be somewhat similar, but they are distinctly different...especially in the level of satisfaction from carwash operators. I did not find any operators who were pleased with the results after having used the spray-on plastic polymer material applied to their masonry bay walls. For example, Scott Gray (in Idaho Falls) paid $6,000 to have plastic polymer sprayed on his automatic bay with split-faced block. He is very dissatisfied. While the product sprayed-on white, it soon discolored and in a few places has even turned brown! And we spoke with two operators (one from dry, hot Southwest and the other from New England) who shared identical horror stories. Both had “Rhino” (a plastic polymer brand) truck bed lining sprayed on their walls. Within 8 months, both said their walls looked terrible -- peeling and splitting everywhere...especially all around the edges. One of the very bitterly disappointed operators said he was going to have it all redone with a spray-on wall coating done by a fiberglass wall coating specialist. Polymers do work quite well on metal or painted truck beds because eliminating moisture is not a real problem on non-porous surfaces. So we suspect that those problems with polymer spray in carwashes may have something to do with the deep, residual moisture often found even in apparently “dry” masonry. That moisture could prevent perfect adhesion and then precipitate peeling and discoloration. The only operator we know of who has been {continued } ‡ FALL 2015 ‡


DO YOUR WALLS LOOK ANCIENT? Bob made the decision to reduce the wattage in his bays. He was using two 400 watt fixtures per bay which were replaced with only two 175 watt fixtures per bay. His canopy was using six 400 watt fixtures and he reduced that to six 250 watt fixtures. He reduced his electrical load almost in half - from 8000 watts down to 4300 watts. And yet Bob is happy to report that the bays reflect about double the light! Saving almost 50 percent on his electrical bills should pay for the panels in a few years time. He’s become a very enthusiastic convert to and proponent of PVC panels. Beyond utility savings, Bob’s really gung-ho on the fresh, new and super clean look his bays have now.

My PVC Torture Test PVC self serve wall

pleased with spray-on polymer is Corey Campbell, owner of Classy Chassis and Car Wash Express in Tacoma, WA. Corey had the walls of an old, dilapidated “tin” 3-bay coated with the material in blue. After a couple years’ heavy use (and no shortage of moisture) his walls still look darn good. Apparently such polymers were made to stick especially well to it does in truck beds. If any operator has had sustained good performance from a polymer app -we’d love to hear about it! But for now, apart from possibly metal rehabs, we cannot recommend it.

PVC Walls

While FRP Panels and spray-on fiberglass walls have their proponents, a number of operators are turning away from fiberglass because of the need to use acid products to clean them. They are trying PVC walls and panels. While doing research for this article, I was rather surprised at the number of operators choosing to use this product. They all had tried several different options; including FRP panels, sprayon fiberglass, tile, and many different types of paint. The other thing they had in common were the reasons they decided to try PVC walls. They were looking for something that was easy to install, did not require closing their carwash for a long length of time, easy to keep clean, and they also all like the look of PVC walls after installation. The PVC walls reflect light very well and give an old carwash that new, bright, shiny look. PVC panels are relatively lightweight, easy to install, can be used on the ceiling, exterior and interior walls, and can be attached to cover just about any building material. The rigid PVC does not buckle like FRP panels and contains UV inhibitors to prevent yellowing. Panels can be installed in any climate area, even in extreme hot and cold climates. My personal interest in this type of wall covering product has increased for a couple reasons. First, PVC panels have been creating a real growing

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“buzz” in the SS community over the last couple years -- a lot of operators are talking about it, and quite a few have been installing it. And secondly, I have had a PVC door at one of my washes for five years and have been more than happy with the results. It faces the truck bay, so it is always getting dirty from the trucks and it’s always wet. I had to replace two metal doors in 10 years and was looking for something that would hold up to the abuse of being right next to my truck bay. The PVC door is washed down daily with the hi-pressure gun and I clean it once a month with 409 using a nylon brush. After five years, it still looks as good as the day it was installed! Jim Allen in Radcliff, KY, had the Extrutech panels installed on his All Star Carwash concrete block walls almost one year ago. He had tried paint and FRP board, but was not happy with the results. He spent approximately a total of $20,000 for material and labor to have the ExtruTech installed on the walls of 6+2 carwash. Jim said, “I installed all new equipment, signage and have four lights in each bay along with putting up the PVC panels. At night the bays look like operating rooms they are so bright! My customers tell me it looks great.” Jim used anchor lag bolts to install the signage and tightened them down just before the panel starts to dimple. He hasn’t had any damage to the panels except for one freaky incident. Pigeons had been chronically splattering on his pristine, sparkling wash bay with their doo-doo. One day, Jim had enough and he went after one of the mess-making birds -- swinging a broom handle like a Louisville slugger. He missed the bird, but whacked the heck out of the PVC and put a small dent/hole into it. Bob Ivory, owner of Buggy Bath Carwashes in Utah and Arizona, also installed PVC wall panels and at the same time changed out his light fixtures. While most operators remodeling decide to add higher watt fixtures or put up more fixtures,

I had a sample of the PVC paneling, so I decided to do a few tests to see how well the material holds up to “torture” in a real world carwash. My customers may be a little more rowdy than some, so I wanted to see how well the panels held up doing the various things my customers and vandals have done to my walls over the years. My tests included: using a permanent black marker, spray paint, crayon, wood stain, adhesive spray, joint compound, wood glue, hammer and golf club, wand tip, screwdriver, grease, and graffiti paint remover spray. I even tried to set it on fire using a lighter and kept it in the freezer overnight. Please note, there are recommended products to clean the walls. So before using any cleaners, you should check with the manufacturer to find out if it will damage the panels. I started by trying wiping off the material with my hand, then moved on to a moist cloth, then to using the recommended products to clean, and finally used non-recommended products to see what it would do to the panel. Note: I do not consider this a truly scientific test! But iat least provided me with some tangible evidence as to what I might expect from this material after some pretty tough SS carwash vandalism and “torture.”


As shown by the previous SSCWN test done on spray-on fiberglass… t 1&3."/&/5#-"$,."3,&3 is one of the most (if not THE most) difficult substance to remove. I started with a water-based cleaner as recommended. I used the popular, multi-purpose stain remover Goof-Off which smeared the ink. I reapplied and let it sit for a few minutes. I had to keep wiping it down with a cloth and using the Goof-Off, but eventually most of it came off with just a shadow of the marker readable. I also used a citrus-based cleaner with better results and also acetone. Both got most of the marker off, but these are not recommended products and over time would dull the finish. t 413":1"*/5was sprayed on and left overnight {continued }

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Lisa Lyons remodel paint job at Buggy Bath car wash in Linda VISTA to dry. I then used just a water wetted cloth and with my ďŹ ngernail pressed on the cloth, I got hte mjajority of the paint off easily! I used Goof-Off to remove the last trace of hte paint with no damage to the surface at all. t $3":0/ rubbed off very easily with just my thumb. I buffed with a dry cloth to remove all remaining color. t 800% 45"*/ was a dark mahogany which I applied and let dry overnight. It came off with

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only a wet cloth and buffed up well with a dry cloth. No remaining stain. t "%)&4*7& 413": I used 3-M Adhesive Spray and let it dry for a few hours. There is a reason this stuff is good -- itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really, really sticky! I started trying to wipe it off with a cloth, but it wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t budge. I then used Goof-Off and a cloth. It took a bit of time and effort, but ďŹ nally all glue was removed without damage to the panel.


t 800% (-6& (water based) wiped off easily with my thumb. t +0*/5 $0.106/% I have a lot of drywall companies coming to my carwashes so I get a lot of this stuff plastered on the walls. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a big pain to remove dried joint compound from block walls, but the PVC wiped off easily just using my thumb. t (3&"4& Most of it came off with a dry cloth rub. I then used the water-based cleaners to remove the remaining residue. t 4$3&8%3*7&3 I took a common, small slot screwdriver and hit the panel. With just a couple of hits the screwdriver penetrated the panel easily. I also used the screwdriver tip to write my â&#x20AC;&#x153;tagâ&#x20AC;? (name) on the panel. The damage was easy to do and noticeable. Plugs can be purchased from the supplier to ďŹ x small holes, but I do not know of any remedy for gouging scratches. t )"..&3"/%(0-'$-6# I had to whack the hammer on the panel several times before getting a good dent in it. I also helped myself to my husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s golf bag and took his sand wedge and I banged the panel hard a few times with that too. It dented it, but didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t break the panel. The golf club survived, too, but letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s keep

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DO YOUR WALLS LOOK ANCIENT? the fact that I used my husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s club just between us, okay? t 8"/% I tried using the wand against the panel like a customer if they just accidentally hit the wall. It either showed no damage or just a slight scratch. If a customer really intended to damage the wall, they could use the wand to dent up the panel. And after three attempts to do so, I was able to put a hole in it. t (3"''*5* 3&.07&3 This is a product from Klean-Strip that is used for removing grafďŹ ti off of concrete and masonry surfaces. It is not recommended for plastic. My employees donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to remember this. Even though Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve written, â&#x20AC;&#x153;DO NOT USE ON SIGNS!â&#x20AC;? in bright blue bold letters, they still do so occasionally. I used it on the panel and it damaged the ďŹ nish off the panel just like it said it would on the label of the grafďŹ ti remover. t -*()5&3 Tested by holding a lighter right next to the panel ďŹ rst for ďŹ ve seconds. There was a black residue and slight melting of the panel. Most of the residue wiped off easily with Goof-Off but there remained a light burn mark and slight damage to panel. Then tested for 10 seconds. The panel started to blister at 9 seconds, residue did not come off and pan-

el was damaged (blistered) but did not melt through. The panel never caught on ďŹ re in either test. (See the manufacturerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s specs for more details on meeting ďŹ re codes.) t '3&&;&3 5&45: I left the PVC panel overnight in the freezer with some water poured on it. The ice came off very easily, but it was also 80 degrees in San Diego so thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not really a fair test. The panel did seem a little stiffer, but not brittle. And when I tried hitting it, I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t notice any difference than when it was at normal temperature. I spoke to several operators in cold climates and there did not seem to be a problem using these panels in the cold weather. In fact, it was mentioned several times how the ice was easy to remove from the panels. Every customer has their own experience with their customer base. I told other operators how much painted grafďŹ tis and scratched names I ďŹ nd on everything -- stainless steel vacs, signs, pole covers, meter boxes, etcetera, etcetera. But I ďŹ nd those problems are not a real concern for the majority of SS operators Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve talked to over the years. I would encourage you to request a sample of the panels and run your own test on the problems you encounter to help determine if this is a good choice for a wall covering for your operator. All the oper-

ators I spoke to were very happy with the choice they had made and were planning on installing at their other washes. ABOUT THE AUTHORâ&#x20AC;Ś Lisa Lyons has an exceptional SS resume and credentials. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a second generation SS carwashers who was virtually born into the coin-op industry as the daughter of SS pioneer Frank Piersall. Lisa â&#x20AC;&#x153;cut her teethâ&#x20AC;? in this business as co-manager of her Dadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chain of washes in Southern California. She has independently owned and operated her own three washes in the San Diego area for 25 years. Lisa is a past president of the International Carwash Association, as well as serving on numerous boards, including the Western Carwash Association Board of Directors and the ICAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s SS Advisory Council and its Board of Directors.

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Darwin Carwash

at the

A collection of the most asinine antics and unusual criminal events to be reported at carwashes around the country. We have a few months left, but it looks like we have a front runner for our 2015 Darwin of the Year Award: Throw your hands together for Bonnie Wilson, a 34-yearold mother who claimed she was robbed at gunpoint while stopped at a Mount Pleasant, PA, self serve car wash with her 12-year-old daughter. Police later arrested Wilson and said the story was a cover-up for a heroin deal gone bad. According to authorities, it was Wilson’s daughter who finally revealed the true nature of the crime, only a day after arresting Michael Pilato and charging him with robbery and simple assault. Police believe Pilato was involved, only in the role of drug dealer instead of armed assailant. In regards to the actual assailant, police think Wilson suffered some sort of physical harm at the hands of her boyfriend, Luke Trimmer, who may have been trying to make it seem as though Wilson had been attacked by Pilato. Trimmer has not been charged in the case. Before she was arrested and charged with fabricating the story, Wilson spoke to local reporters and claimed her daughter was shaken up by the alleged armed robbery. “Once it sunk in and she realized what could have happened, she’s taking it bad,” Wilson said in a local television report. Her version of events then was that she had returned to the carwash to look for a pack of cigarettes she had lost there earlier in the day. She alleged that she and her preteen daughter were then approached by Pilato, who asked to borrow some money. She claimed she refused and that he struck her in the face. Her comments to the local TV station suggest she might have a future as a screenplay writer for Law & Order: “And that’s when he pulled out the gun and I actually said to him, ‘You’re going to kill me in front of my kid?’” Somehow, he ended up in the backseat of her car as she drove around town, but when he realized she was headed for the police station, Wilson claimed he became upset. “That’s when he cocked back the gun, and he’s like, ‘I’m serious, bullets are going to start flying.’ And when he said that I noticed he had the gun kind of pointed toward my daughter,” Wilson told the television station. Wilson’s fantastical story finishes with an elaborate getaway, where she tosses $70 into the street for an all-too-eager Pilato, who jumps out of the car to fetch the money as she rushes away. Unfortunately for Wilson, police were suspicious of her story from the beginning and the true nature of the incident became obvious after questioning her poor daughter a few times.

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Desperate for gas money and willing to get your hands dirty? We still wouldn’t recommend digging through a vacuum cleaner for coins, like the four persons arrested for “organized criminal activity” and burglary of a coin-operated machine in Ownwood, TX. Despite their claims that they weren’t aware it was a criminal activity, officers arrested and charged the four Darwins after the owner of Fast Lane Car Wash provided surveillance video of the crime. There must be something in that Northeast water… A 19-year-old carwash worker in Buffalo, NY, was arrested for an eerily similar crime after she pocketed nearly $4,000 from a Delta Sonic Car Wash over the course of a year. Alexandra J. Morgan may have been able to stretch her crime out over a dozen or so months, but she’s been caught nonetheless -- and charged with third-degree grand larceny. A tip for Darwins trying to make a clean getaway after a carwash robbery: Take your bodily fluids with you. Joseph Michael Evenson has pled guilty to 1st degree burglary in a case nearly five years old after police were able to perform DNA testing on a blood sample left behind at Highway 106 Car Wash. According to authorities, Evenson not only attempted to rob the carwash, but also used a knife to cut a witness to his crime after breaking into the office of the business and attempting to open a change machine in September 2011. It may have taken four years, but justice has finally been served.

Go on and take the money and run -- but maybe make sure your boss can’t easily identify you, first? A carwash worker in Bethlehem, PA, has been arrested and charged with theft after stealing $919 dollars and skipping out on work the next day. (Actually -what’s the bigger crime here: Making out with nearly a grand or leaving the owner in a lurch for the next shift?) Josiah Rashaun Moore-Newman was easily caught after the manager audited the register and safe the next morning and realized the drawer had been shorted. Although she called Moore-Newman several times the next day, he ignored her calls and failed to show up for his shift. From there, authorities were contacted and the arrest was made.

felony count of aiding and abetting burglary. The trio made out with nearly $400 from the carwash -- which one of the suspects later said was supposed to be used to buy drugs after the crime -- and caused more than $800 in damages to a custom-made metal box for the coin machine. Police were dispatched to the scene of the crime after suspicious activity was reported and found a virtual cornucopia of criminal paraphernalia in the vehicle the suspects were driving (later reported stolen). Their search turned up: a pry-bar, lock punches and drills, as well as little baggies that contained a brown substance which field-tested positive for heroin. Also inside the vehicle was a backpack with several needles with blood in them, a spoon with residue, a rubber stretch band and alcohol prep pads, among other things. And now, a special gallery of all the Darwins caught on carwash cameras these past three months…

A rather serious and alarming report from St. Louis, MO: A carwash owner here has reported being robbed at gunpoint while collecting coins at his Shenandoah Avenue self serve late at night. This is a scary -- but important -- reminder to all operators to be extra diligent when collecting cash, and to switch up your routine every day. Authorities said the owner was not hurt in the incident. The investigation is ongoing. We know what they’d do for some heroin, now we wonder what they’d for a Klondike bar. Three persons have been arrested and charged after a string of robberies at Clifford’s Car Wash in Northfield, MI. s Benjamin Jacob Hunt, 25, is charged with two felony counts of second-degree burglary and two felony counts of third-degree burglary; s Joseph Lee Warner is charged with a single felony charge of possessing a controlled substance, in addition to five misdemeanor charges; and s Dana Marie Olness, 29, is charged with a single

Here’s an Einstein doing his best James Dean impression while vandalizing a coin machine at Big Wave Car Wash in Colorado Springs, CO. Like most Darwins at the Carwash, this genius didn’t get away with much money, but caused a significant amount of damage to the machine. His confident walk suggests this might not be his first time.... but Philadelphia police have not only this picture, but also surveillance images of the red Pontiac Bonneville he arrived in to rob a carwash in the city’s Andorra section.


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According to the video, the suspect walked into a restricted area of the car wash and stole an undisclosed amount of cash, as well as keys, from the business’s register. He then fled the scene in the Bonneville with a female driver and an unknown male who remained in the vehicle during the theft.

This trio of Darwins were caught on camera during a late night robbery at R. J.’s Car Wash in Statesville, NC. Although Larry, Curly and Moe walked away empty handed -- they fled the scene after tripping an alarm as they kicked in the door to the office -police still want them for questioning on a breaking and entering charge.

The couple that robs carwashes together...hopefully gets caught together. Authorities in Louisville, KY, have charged a man -- and suspect his wife was also involved -- in a string of robberies at local car washes, including two Moby’s Auto Spas. William Berkely was arrested after surveillance video was released to the public and aired on local television news programs. Security cameras caught the couple pulling into the carwash in a red SUV with Indiana tags (and later, a white pickup trucks with Kentucky plates) and using a drill to access the auto tellers on site, causing nearly $2,000 worth of damage. “It wasn't his first rodeo. He'd done this before. And you guys watched him, did you see how quick he was when he snatched them?” said Tom Beard, who owns six Moby’s Auto Spas. “It makes me angry. I mean, we work hard for our money. I work sometimes 18 hours a day to get my stuff and then you have people coming and doing this type of stuff. Here's what you feel, you feel violated,” said Beard. Not only that -- but the pair was bold, attacking the washes in broad daylight. In one video, the criminals are approached by an employee, but the man quickly starts to put coins into the machine, acting as though he were a paying customer at the wash. Despite having 12 cameras at the carwash, Beard wasn’t able to get a clear shot of the suspect’s license plate. He told a local television station that he is considering beefing up security at the wash, which currently has an alarm that sounds if someone breaks

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into the pay station. “You can get them to spray mace when they open them things up now. So we're kind of looking into some of those things,” said Beard.

or how much money was stolen from the business.

Ya gotta love that “Darwin” expression on his face… Authorities in Quincy, MA, are on the lookout for this man (pictured above) who stole nearly $400 in quarters from a car wash after using a pair of pliers to vandalize the coin machine at Hancock Street Car Wash. According to the video, he used his t-shirt to collect the fruits of his (illegal) labor and fled the scene.

A man firing shots at his victim at National Car Wash in Nashville, TN, was caught on surveillance camera, and police are looking for the gunman and a female passenger who got away in a black/grey primered 2-door Chevrolet Camaro (that looks badly in the need of a wash and some touch-up work…) According to police, the suspect approached a customer while he was vacuuming his car at the wash and demanded money. “A struggle ensued,” according to one local report, and the victim was able to break away. The suspect fired several shots as the victim ran away, but he was unharmed. Bizarrely, the gunman returned a little while later, this time without his female passenger, and with the license plates removed from the Camaro. He again showed the victim his gun, before driving away. Some witnesses believed the suspect may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

At least this Darwin put on the appropriate uniform before breaking and entering into Kelly’s Car Wash in Providence, RI, this September. According to the wash’s manager, the suspect removed the garage window and smashed in the back door of the business. His haul? Cigarettes and lottery tickets.

A cash reward is being offered for information which may help identify or arrest two men who broken into coin machines at Bucket of Sudz car wash in Tampa, FL. The suspects, pictured above, made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Police in Florence, AL, are on the lookout for two men, one of whom is shown here on camera, who robbed an auto teller at Super Sonic Car Wash this August. The men were able to remove and steal the entire money box, although no further details were available regarding how much cash (if any) was stolen or how much damage was caused by the criminals.

He’s perhaps our most famous Darwin yet! NBA’s favorite bad boy, Dennis Rodman was caught acting “wasted” at a Costa Mesa, CA, carwash, according to a report from celebrity “news” agency TMZ -- and his behavior was erratic enough that police showed up at the scene. Carwash employees and patrons reported being concerned about his stumbling and mumbling and bumbling at the wash. According to TMZ, the authorities were contacted because witnesses were afraid Rodman might try to drive away from the carwash, although Rodman later accepted a ride from an unnamed woman. Photo Credit:

After “multiple” robberies, police have released this image of a suspect who is breaking into the coin machines at Supreme Clean Car Wash in Akron, OH. There were no further details about damages caused

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Self Serve Carwash News Fall 2015  

Quarterly trade publication for self serve carwash owners and operators.

Self Serve Carwash News Fall 2015  

Quarterly trade publication for self serve carwash owners and operators.