International Carwash Association® (ICA) is the nonprofit trade group representing the professional car wash industry in North America and around the globe. The Association represents thousands of car wash professionals and businesses, and the industry's leading retailers and suppliers.
ICA is governed by a sixteen-member board of directors, comprised of operators and suppliers. The organization is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois USA and maintains partnerships with regional associations in the United States and with associations and media organizations located in Australia, China, Germany and the Netherlands.
International Carwash Association is the voice of the professional car wash industry, serving as its spokesperson to business and consumer media, investors, government and related industries. As part of this role, the Association has produced the industry's leading consumer, environmental and demographic research.
Membership is available to any individual car wash professional at www.carwash.org/join.
A brief history of International Carwash Association
The world's earliest known production line car wash, called Automobile Laundry, opened in Portland, Oregon USA in 1912 at the corner of 21st and Washington Streets. (It's likely that there were other such businesses prior, though the automobile laundromat terminology seemed to originate on the Pacific Coast.) These business grew quickly alongside automobile sales, and by the 1920s automobile laundries were in many cities, as well as "wash bowls" and other concepts for processing customers on a larger scale.
The world's first automatic (fully mechanized) car wash was Paul's Automatic Auto Wash, which opened in Detroit, Michigan USA in 1946, owned by Paul Maranian. The location used the new system designed and constructed by Leo Rousseau, which he marketed under the name "Minit Man." The equipment included a chain conveyor, side brushes, a top brush, vacuums and blowers. The concept was immediately successful, attracting coverage in a 1947 edition of LIFE Magazine and inciting an explosion in car wash growth.
By the 1950s, as more car wash businesses were opened, operators began to identify a need to network and learn. A new publication, Auto Laundry News, was founded by Robin King, an early car wash pioneer from California. In 1955, he organized for a small group of operators to meet at the Hotel del Prado in Mexico City to organize the "American Auto Laundry Association." David Lippitt, another operator from California, was elected the first president of the group. The first official convention was held at the Jung Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana USA in 1956. In 1959, William H. Coy was appointed the organization's first Executive Secretary, and the first headquarters was established in Detroit. Robin King assumed the role of Executive Secretary in 1961, moving the headquarters to his home in Mexico City.
By the 1960s, automatic car wash machinery was being widely produced in the United States and Europe to serve the growing car wash industry. Accordingly, and due to the growing prevalence of automation, in 1962 the association was renamed "Automatic Car Wash Association, International." In 1967, the organization appointed R.R. "Gus" Trantham to serve as Executive Secretary, a position he held for more than 25 years. In 1974, the name was changed to International Carwash Association. In 1982, the name was changed to "International Carwash Association / National Carwash Council" to reflect a merger between what were the conveyor/automatic and coin-operated segments of the car wash community. In 1986, the name was simplified again to International Carwash Association.
Today, ICA is the world's leading community for car wash professionals, with members in all 50 U.S. states and more than two dozen countries. The Car Wash Show has expanded with satellite events in Australia, China and Europe, while also solidifying its position as the car wash industry's most important gathering and one of North America's largest trade shows. The nonprofit organization remains governed by the car wash industry, with supplier and operator comprising its Board of Directors, and served by a professional staff based primarily in Chicago, Illinois USA.