29th NRCC Innovates, Educates, Inspires

29th NRCC Innovates, Educates, Inspires

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — The Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC), October 1-3, at the Atlantic City Convention Center boasted nearly 300 walk-ins on the first day of show hours demonstrating the need for the annual event and it’s mission, according to 2018 Chairman Doug Rieck. “Despite the fact that it’s been a wet few months, we had a great turnout with more than 1500 attendees and a record 320 exhibitors. Our seminars were standing room only and our vendors were very happy with the traffic they saw,” said Rieck. “Our attendees want to learn and grow their businesses and that is great.”

The three-day event kicked off on Monday, October 1, with the event’s second “Virtual Tour” spearheaded by Hoffman Car Wash’s Tom Hoffman, Jr. “This seminar gives our attendees a “virtual” look at a number of innovative facilities,” he said. “This year we added in a site from Utah to give attendees a sense of what operators out of our market are doing. It’s a really great way to showcase a lot of washes and washing concepts at once.”

Featured in the “Virtual Tour” were the sites featured last year to get a feel for what has changed in the last 12 months before adding in four new sites to the mix. Last year’s participants were Foam & Wash, Wappingers Falls, NY; Hoffman Car Wash, Saratoga Springs, NY; Sparkle Car Wash, Easton, PA, and Valet Auto Wash, Lawrenceville, NJ. The new sites featured were College Park Car Wash, College Park, MD; The Great American Car Wash, Severna Park, MD; Wash Co., Middletown, NY, and Wiggy Wash, Orem, UT.

On Tuesday, October 2, seminars kicked off with a traditional Early Bird where no carwash topic went unturned. Led by Turnpike Car Wash’s Bob Katseff, this seminar hopes to answer questions in a panel format, unscripted and honestly. It also includes a full breakfast spread.

The next seminar, Dissecting the Club Plan, led by College Park’s Dave DuGoff, exposed the many ways to create a profitable wash club program. A seasoned panel of operators shared their knowledge in running their own programs. It was a great format in which to learn what works and what might not in your market.

Next up was Hoffman Car Wash’s Director of IT, AJ Davison, who spoke from first-hand experience on how to protect a wash from cyber attacks. His honest story of how his company experienced a breech was insightful and helpful to attendees to instruct them on how to better secure their customer data.

Keynote speaker, Jay Rifenbary, a former West Point grad, shared his life experiences and core values in a lively presentation that focused on interpersonal skills necessary in establishing core values, accountability and balance in everyday life and business.

Following Rifenbary’s Keynote Chairman Rieck led the annual award’s program by presenting Jule Gapp of Hoffman Car Wash with the NRCC’s newest award, the Emerging Leader. This award was created to recognize up-and-coming managers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and customer service skills. Gapp is a manager who has worked her way up the ranks to run one of the company’s most innovative and high-volume sites in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Mike Conte, the Car Wash Operators of New Jersey’s immediate past president, then awarded Doug Rieck with the Most Distinguished Person Award for his tireless efforts serving on the NRCC board and as Chairman for the second time.

Rieck then asked Randy’s Car Wash’s Ron Bousquet to introduce the Hall of Fame recipient, Bob Katseff of Turnpike Car Wash. Katseff, who has been involved in the NRCC seemingly since its inception 29 years ago, has demonstrated unyielding service to the show and its mission. This award is the NRCC’s highest honor. His long-time friend, Bousquet, was honored to bestow the accolade.

After a long day of education and exhibition, the annual Welcome Reception sponsored by Innovative Control Systems of Wind Gap, PA, was a great way to relax, unwind and catch up with fellow attendees at the Water Club’s pool. The event includes an exceptional spread of food and drink compliments of the sponsor. 

The show’s final seminar, Wednesday, October 3, was presented by Paul Fazio of SonnysOneWash who did a state of the industry. His history in the industry and unique take on its evolution provided attendees with a broad prospective of where we are and where we are headed. He stressed, however, that despite growing consolidation in the industry it is still comprised of family-run operations and that will continue in his opinion.

Show hours ran on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning and also featured vendor-run seminars called “Inside Looks.” This is an opportunity for vendors to hold their own half-hour programs to educate attendees.

The 2019 NRCC, the 30th year of the show, is slated for September 23-25, at the Atlantic City Convention Center with the Borgata as the host hotel. “Look for some new education formats and a few other surprises to acknowledge our 30th year as the East Coast’s largest and best attended show,” said Rieck. “The board works tirelessly to make this show bigger and better every year so stay tuned!”

The NRCC is an annual event and the combined efforts of the Car Wash Operators of New Jersey (CWONJ), Connecticut Carwash Association (CCA), New England Carwash Association (NECA), Mid-Atlantic Car Wash Association (MCA) and the New York State Car Wash Association (NYSCWA). Each association takes a turn hosting the annual event. For more information on the NRCC visit nrccshow.com or call 800/868-8590.

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PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

It’s that time of the year when snowstorms create lines of salt covered cars waiting in line at your wash. You’ve probably spent time going through the tunnel, checking the conveyor, brushes, soap and wax applicators. You’re sure you have enough products on hand to handle that record weekend. These are the things that can make or break your month. You’re too good of an operator to miss the “Block and Tackle” issues.. right?

But what about the most important component to your success, your people, are they ready? If you are like most operators you will or have already hired a few extra staff members to help during the busy winter months, are they ready, do they know what to expect? The recent job market has tightened up with record low unemployment rates and at the time I am writing this column there are more open jobs then there are applicants to fill them. The bottom line – employees have choices and lots of them. We are competing with all types of retailers, many of whom have flexible hours, and inside work where it’s dry and warm.
Employees want to be part of a team, they want to contribute to a goal, and they want direction and training.

We have all at one time or another handed a new hire a vacuum, towel or a prep gun and find that they last until lunch. Training has always been important but never has it been more important than right now. We have heard a lot about Millennial employees. These employees have choices. The days of being lucky to have a job are over, and employees want to be engaged not managed. This “employment cultural shift” once thought to only be part of the cultures of Google or Apple, with their “open work areas” and slides instead of stairs have taken a firm hold in small business.  

Think about the Bombas Socks or Toms (look them up if your not familiar with what they do and support). They have embraced the idea of engaging their employees and created a corporate culture that employees believe in and support. According to the Employee Engagement Group, highly engaged employees are 250 percent more likely to make recommendations for improvement and 370 percent more likely to recommend your company as a place to work. Employees who are not engaged are four times more likely to leave. At a time when there is record low unemployment can you really afford not to engage your employees? Employment engagement starts with a conversation, what do we do and more importantly why? What is the employee’s place in the process and why is it important? Do you have a plan or do you show up and hope for the best? Employees want to be part of the plan, engage them in the preparation and the review process and you’ll be surprised at how much they have to offer. Give employees the same attention as you do your equipment, maybe more. Here’s to a great season!

Walter Hartl

President, New York State Car Wash Association

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Sexual Harassement Policy & Training Now Required for Full and Part-Timers

Sexual Harassement Policy & Training Now Required for Full and Part-Timers

By William Y. Crowell, III

Legislation enacted with the 2018-19 New York State budget requires all employers to adopt a sexual harassment policy in addition to a sexual harassment training program. This mandate applies without regard to the number of employees. It does not matter whether an employer has one employee or 100 employees. It is not limited to full-time employees. An employer is responsible for all workers including part-time, seasonal and temporary workers. The carwash industry often uses part-time and temporary workers, so please be aware that the policy and training requirements apply to these workers.

Labor Law 201-G contains the requirement that every employer must adopt a sexual harassment policy. In early October, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final guidance on a model sexual harassment policy, and minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention and policies. An employer may adopt the state’s model policy. If an employer adopts their own policy, it must meet or exceed the minimum standards provided for in the state’s policy

Employers were required to have established and distributed the anti- sexual harassment policy by October 9, 2018. The New York State Department of Labor also has a model complaint form for use by employees.  This form should be made available by employers for employees to use to file a complaint. The employer must make it clear where the form may be found by an employee. The anti-sexual harassment policy is required to be distributed to employees prior to commencing work. 

The employer may make the anti-sexual harassment policy available in writing or electronically if it is available on a work computer, the employee must be able to print it for their own records. The DOL encourages the posting of the policy and also making it available to parties providing services in the workplace. The guidance issued by the DOL encourages employees to keep a signed acknowledgement by the employees of receipt of the policy. 

The DOL provides a poster that notifies employees of the existence of the sexual harassment protection. Use of the poster is not mandated but is recommended by the DOL.

If your carwash has not already complied with the requirements for a sexual harassment policy, this should be your immediate focus. The next deadline to be met is October 9, 2019, for employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training. 

Every employer in New York State must provide employees with annual sexual harassment prevention training which is “interactive.” The New York State Department of Labor provides model training materials for employers.  The interactive requirement is the most difficult from an employer compliance perspective. The guidance provided by the New York State Department of Labor encourages the use of a live trainer as a best practice.  Employers are not able to show a video alone or provide employees with a document to meet the training requirement. Web-based training is allowed provided that participants are asked questions upon completion and provide correct answers. Employees must also be able to submit a question online and receive an answer in a timely manner. Both web-based and in-person training is required to provide a survey to employees which would be returned after completion of the training.

Employers are required to train newly-hired employees as soon as possible.  No minimum time frame is prescribed for the training.

If an employee does not attend scheduled training that does not absolve the employer from the requirement to train the employee. Employers are authorized to pursue administrative remedies to ensure employee compliance.

Trainers are not certified by the Department of Labor. 

The employer is responsible for reviewing the third-party training to ensure it exceeds minimum standards.

Carwash operators located in the New York City market have obligations under Local Law 96 of 2018. Employers in New York City were required to display a workplace poster in both Spanish and English by September 6, 2018, published by the New York City Commission on Human Rights. There is also a fact sheet provided by the Commission on Human Rights which intended to be distributed to new employees.

The City law also includes a training requirement which takes effect on April 1, 2019. Employers with 15 or more employees are required to conduct an annual anti-sexual harassment training for all employees. The City Commission on Human Rights is developing an online training program for use by employers. Employers are required to provide a record of trainings, including a signed employee acknowledgment. Whether the New York City version of on-line training will satisfy New York State requirements and vice versa remains to be seen. 

The New York State Department of Labor website contains frequently asked questions and model sexual harassment policy and training (https://www.ny.gov/programs/combating-sexual-harassment-workplace). The information contained on the website provides the most up-to-date information for employers on implementation of the sexual harassment policy and training. Carwash operators should definitely consult the website and seek professional assistance when establishing a program to conform with the statutory and guidance materials. Employers with harassment policies and training in place are benefitted by their affirmative policies in the event of a discrimination claim.

William Y. Crowell, III, is a partner with Cozen O’Connor. You can reach him at 202/883-4944 or wcrowell@cozen.com 

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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: NYC Association Challenges Car Wash Accountability Law

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

NYC Association Challenges Car Wash Accountability Law

By William Y. Crowell, III

New York City Local Law 62, “The Car Wash Accountability Law,” has been challenged in an action filed in the Southern District federal court by the Association of Car Wash Owners, Zoom Car Spa LLC, and Five Star Hand Wash LLC vs. City of New York. The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Cardozo, Esq., a former New York City Corporation Counsel.

This lawsuit focuses on the requirement in Local Law 62 that non-unionized carwashes post a surety bond five times higher than the amount required to be posted by unionized carwashes, $150,000 versus $30,000.

The complaint filed by the plaintiff sets forth the following grounds to invalidate Local Law 62:

  • The surety bond requirement interferes with the collective bargaining process in the carwash industry by placing an additional burden on non-union employers, which is alleged to be preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Local Law 62 regulates wages which are subject to comprehensive regulation by the New York State Labor Department under the Labor Law, and is alleged to result in state law preemption.
  • Union and non-union carwashes are similarly situated with no rational basis for a two-tiered bond requirement, creating an alleged violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • The amount of the surety bond for non-union carwashes is out of line with other surety bond licensing requirements of New York City and the purpose of the bond is to penalize non-union carwashes, resulting in an alleged violation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
  • A deprivation of rights under color of law is also alleged.

 

The action brought by the plaintiffs has clearly delineated the legal issues that focus on the $150,000 bond requirement. It is argued that the additional bond amount provides unions with leverage to pressure carwashes to unionize. The question for the court is – does this bonding differential constitute a rational basis on which to differentiate between carwashes? The New York State Car Wash Association (NYSCWA) will follow this litigation and keep its members informed as it progresses through the courts.

 

Schiavone v. ARB Enterprises, Inc.

A recent decision by the Appellate Term of the Second Department – Schiavone v. ARB Enterprises, Inc. – merits discussion. ARB Enterprises, Inc. (“ARB”) is a carwash that appealed a determination by a justice court in a small claims action, which awarded $278.98 to the plaintiff based on damages to the driver’s side mirror by an employee of ARB while preparing the vehicle to enter the carwash. The Appellate Term upheld the judgment of the justice court, finding the judgment awarded provided substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law. The court rejected the defendant carwash’s position that it had a sign stating that it was not responsible for damaged mirrors. The court found that the carwash did not establish that the sign was posted in a conspicuous manner so that the plaintiff had notice of its terms, or that the plaintiff had agreed to the disclaimer. The plaintiff was not found by the court to be bound to the terms of the disclaimer.

Worker Exploitation Task Force

Governor Cuomo appointed a statewide task force in July 2015 to combat worker exploitation to identify and stop illegal practices. The task force consists of 10 state agencies, including the Department of Labor and an advisory committee appointed by the Governor. The target industries included carwashes, with the focus on industries with the highest rates of employer non-compliance. Recently, the task force reportedly opened investigations into 30 employers, including carwashes, among other employers.

Any carwash operator who has not brought their business into compliance with all appropriate wage and other labor laws should seek assistance to make sure their business is in compliance with all applicable laws. If your Association can provide any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. This enforcement effort underlines the continued scrutiny of pay and employment practices of carwashes. Please make sure that your carwash operation is in compliance – you will avoid significant problems by exercising additional caution.

William Y. Crowell, III, is a partner with the Albany-based law firm of Whitman Osterman & Hanna LLC. You can reach him at 518/487-7677.

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Winter volume gear up....

Dear Venus and Mars,

When do you start gearing up for your winter volume and what specifically do you do?

 

Venus Says

We typically know when to expect extra wash volume and that is normally when the colder weather approaches. However, there have been late October snow falls that bring us some salty vehicles. With that in mind, we start to gear up about late September to early October.

First and foremost, we make sure that all our employees know we are coming up on a busy time. Our suppliers/distributors all know that we are headed into the busy season so we pray they are well stocked and prepared as well because as we all know, the bigger the wash load, the more problems we see with equipment. We try to be proactive and do maintenance prior to the busy times of year. Take advantage of the slow times to make repairs.

We also check in with other operators at this time to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything. Association meetings are great opportunities in which to do that as well.

Mike and I like to make sure that we have plenty of fresh vending inventory and try to have large shipments sent just weeks before expected volume. In addition, we like to check our soaps and have plenty on site to switch out quickly as needed.

We also clean up all the bill validators and make sure we have spares and spare parts for all coin-related equipment. In addition, we double check our surveillance and computer equipment and replace anything that is not working well and make sure the outdoor cameras are clean and mounted securely.

As hands-on owner/operators, we find ourselves at our locations on into the evening hours during high-volume times. But in the long run, the colder it is the busier we become.

 

Mars Says

It’s hard to believe we are talking about winter already. Thoughts of last winter with the bitter cold and huge snowdrifts are still fresh in my mind. But fall is here and it is inevitable that the cold winter months will be upon us sooner than later. Preparing for the season is very important and as the equipment and property take the most abuse in the cold months. My benchmark for having everything ready is right around Halloween. I want to be ready just in case we experience an early season or snowfall.

There are several things in which you should be prepared. It is best to make a checklist of everything that needs to get done or verified to be working properly. First and foremost, my conveyer needs to be in tip-top shape for the abuse it is going to take over the next four months or so.

I always inspect every inch of the chain for wear. Are there links that are worn out and need replacing, or is the whole chain in need of replacement? The conveyer links usually wear out first right in front of and right behind the rollers. This is where the most pressure is put on it. When it is very cold, the chain becomes more brittle and a weak link can break sooner than it would when it is warm out.

When checking the chain you want to inspect each and every roller as well. The rollers have links on them that tend to wear quicker than the rest of the chain. The plastic on the rollers should be in good shape with little signs of wear. Some rollers allow you to just replace the plastic without having to change the whole roller. But in some cases, the steel on the roller is worn out as well and it would be best to change the whole thing.

Of course you want to make sure that all the heat is working in the tunnel and fires up quickly and remains running. Thermostats should be checked for accuracy and proper functionality. Think back to last winter and try to remember if there were any areas in the tunnel that were freezing up or didn’t seem to receive as much heat as other areas. If so, you may need to reposition some of the heaters or add more. Also check the gas valves and igniters to ensure that they are operating properly.

The fall is also a good time to replace any worn out cloth or foam.  With the salt and sand that will hopefully be present most of the winter your equipment will need to be at maximum cleaning potential. Also, new cloth needs a little time to break in so replacing it in the fall gives it enough time to break in properly.

Many carwashes in the Northeast use wind doors to keep the warm air in the tunnel. In my carwash I don’t use the wind door during the warmer months so it is not in operation. I always run it for about a week in October to make sure all of the moving parts and air cylinders are working properly.

A wind door is a very good investment in that during operating hours it helps to keep the warm air in the tunnel. It also helps to keep heating costs down since the heaters will not have to work as hard as the heat is not escaping the tunnel so quickly. If you don’t currently have one, it may be a good idea to research it now.

Another important thing to put on your checklist is ice melt. The fall is a good time to shop out the best pricing on ice melt. Usually you can get a better price by pre-ordering in the fall rather than waiting until the temperature actually dips below the freezing mark. Once that happens the demand goes up and usually the prices follow suit.

If you provide your employees with uniforms you want to make sure you are prepared to supply them with jackets or sweat shirts. It never looks good when that first cold week arrives and half of your staff is out of uniform or wearing worn-out and dirty clothes from last winter.  Make sure you have a full supply of winter clothing for all employees.

Let’s hope it is a prosperous winter and one that is not too cold but provides many dirty cars. The Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC), which is October 5-7, at the Atlantic City Convention Center (nrccshow.com) is the perfect place to shop for all of the things I mentioned above. Usually, these items are on sale and the products are on display so you can see exactly what you are purchasing.

 

Venus and Mars, aka Heather Ashley and Paul Vallario, are carwash industry veterans. Heather Ashley is the President of the Mid- Atlantic Carwash Association. She is also co-owner of Virginia Car Wash Industries, Inc.and Shenandoah Valley Coin Laundries, and Ashley’s Shenandoah Valley Rental Properties in Toms Brook, VA. You can reach Heather at mhashley@gmail.com, as well as Linkedin and Twitter @hrashley. Paul Vallario operates Westbury Personal Touch Car Wash in Westbury, NY, and is the President of Urban Avenue Carwash Distributors and Consulting. He is a board member of the New York State Car Wash Association. You can reach Paul at iwashcars@optonline.net.

If you have a question for Venus & Mars please send it to: Media Solutions, 2214 Budd Terrace, Niskayuna, NY 12309 or email us.

 

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