This year’s The Car Wash Show in Nashville was one for the record books. In what would be the largest Show in 10 years, nearly 8,000 attendees walked the trade show floor to see the products and services from more than 400 exhibitors.
It lived up to its reputation as the largest car wash convention and trade show.
“Once again, the car wash industry has shown that The Car Wash Show is the event to attend,” said ICA Chief Executive Officer Eric Wulf. “Across both our car wash and fast lube communities, we saw record numbers this year because the Show provides them with tremendous benefits and opportunities.”
This year marked the first year of a new partnership with the Automotive Oil Change Association.
“This gives us an opportunity for our membership to really get more bang for their buck by coming to one show with a lot of activity and I’m looking forward to it,” said AOCA President David Haney. “I’m excited.”
And this year marks the second year of partnership with Western Carwash Association, and the benefits are paying off in a big way.
“Now what we have is an ability to focus all of our resources and our efforts on more local issues,” said WCA President Jason Johnson. “So we’ve hired a group for advocacy in our legislature, we’re able to have chapter meetings and we’re able to do more roadshows. We freed up all the staff time to attend to more local issues.”
Attendees at this year’s Show experienced a variety of activities beyond the trade show floor, including the Welcome to Nashville Celebration, a massive block party held on Fifth Avenue with live entertainment provided by country music star Kellie Pickler.
Headlining the 17+ hours of education, retired Navy SEAL Rear Admiral Scott Moore delivered an inspiring keynote address sharing stories of teamwork when quick decisions mean life or death and insights on how to recruit, train and equip teams that will exceed expectations.
“His whole idea of culture and getting ideas from each team member was just awesome. He was very inspiring,” said Tom Hoffman, Sr. of Hoffman Car Wash.
“This whole concept of teamwork is universal within any organization ,” said Clean Sweep Car Wash Owner Ken Littrell. “And it’s the same principles applied that make us successful in the car wash industry.”
This year’s Show featured 70 education sessions curated to help attendees learn new ways to enhance their businesses.
“One of things I took out of this is to make sure we’re updating quickly and making [our posts] as interesting as possible when we’re posting to social media,” said Dave Watson, owner of The Chamois Car Wash.
Additionally, The Car Wash Show offered industry seminars for new investors, emerging leaders and car care executives which provided car care professionals with, respectively, an in-depth workshop about the industry, knowledge about developing leadership skills and information on how to drive innovation.
“There are just things that you think you know that you don’t know,” said New Investor and Soft Water Car Wash Owner Martin Clayton. “Labor is going to be a bigger issue than you think. It’s not about if you perceive it as a good job but your marketplace determines whether it’s a good place to work. So [learning] how to overcome those challenges and be successful at it.”
With more than 17 hours of access to the trade show floor, attendees were able to see goods and services from exhibitors. The show floor is vitally important to both attendees and exhibitors, alike, as it is an opportunity to establish new business relationships that will, ultimately, benefit customers around the globe.
“We get to touch and feel the equipment and I get an opportunity to speak with other operators,” said Arshad Niaz, owner of Dream Wash Autospa. “All of those are unique benefits you can’t get otherwise.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity especially for small businesses to meet some of the larger companies that we can distribute our products to,” said Stephanie Stone of Integrus Packaging.
The show also featured several awards.
First, the Community Service Leadership Award was awarded to Rising Tide Car Wash of Parkland, Fla. for its work in the autism community. The award is presented to a company or individual that provides a continuum of leadership to the community in which their business operates.
The D'Eri family, owners of Rising Tide, have a son – Andrew – who has autism and sought to help those on the autism spectrum by providing employment opportunities, something the community desperately needs. As of 2015, more than 80 percent of their employees were on the autism spectrum, and the car wash has received national recognition as one of the largest employers of people with autism in the United States.
“We started this because my brother has autism and he needed employment. But what we found is that our employees are genuinely the best we could ever ask for,” said Tom D’Eri of Rising Tide Car Wash. “Everybody in this industry is really focused on system and process and procedure and that’s how we produce consistent customer experience. Our employees really buy into that and love that.”
Bob Hodge was named this year’s Hall of Fame Award recipient. A beloved industry veteran, Hodge is a well-known, loyal man who is the friend and mentor of many.
His unique journey – going from academic to car wash inventor and operator – allowed him to contribute extensively to the car wash industry with, for example, the Hodge arch.
“The Hodge name is synonymous with toughness, integrity and quality – we are lucky to have a man like him in our industry. Both he and the team at Rising Tide Car Wash are well-deserving winners of the Hall of Fame and Community Service Leadership awards,” said ICA President Fred O'Neil.
“I was just thrilled. I just almost couldn’t believe it,” said Hodge. “I’m so flattered and to have all these wonderful people who have supported me. Just a phenomenal experience.”
And wrapping up the awards, the 2016 Brian Campbell People’s Choice Best Booth Award was presented to Sonny’s Enterprises, Inc. The award honors the best booth as judged by attendee voting.
The award was named for Brian Campbell, who was diagnosed with Williams’ syndrome at just 6 months old and given a 10-year life expectancy. He is now 35 and has been attending The Car Wash Show since 1993.
The show also featured area car wash tours as well as special giveaways for ICA’s newest events.
The Car Wash Show 2017 will take place on April 4-6, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. The Car Wash Show will return to Nashville in the spring of 2019.