Scaling Car Washes

Episode Image - Great Advice for Car Wash Owners from Ron Peterson

12: Great Advice for Car Wash Owners with Business Legend Ron Peterson

Have you considered the way that the car wash industry has changed and how that can impact you as an owner? In this Scaling Car Washes episode, host JT Thomson talks with industry legend Ron Peterson about his experience, his perspective on what matters, and his predictions for what might come in the car wash business industry.

Check out all of the great tips that Ron Peterson shares about what worked for Mister Car Wash as they grew from a handful of chains to a very large and successful company with many washes!

“The 2008 thing hit. And you really couldn’t get funding at all! To do anything. These guys were still chasing acquisitions; we just started making the company better. We made the process faster, we made the customer service better, we cleaned our bathrooms three times an hour, we cleaned. It was a career decision if the general manager walked across a lot and didn’t pick up a piece of paper. Now, that might sound harsh, but you only have to do it once. Right? Everybody gets the message. So we just basically changed the model.”

~Ron Peterson

Don’t miss this episode where Ron Peterson shares so much about his perspective and his journey in the car wash industry! His role as Chief Executive Officer for Mister Car Wash certainly had a profound impact on the industry!

A Little More about Ron Peterson

Ron Peterson was Chief Executive Officer for Mister Car Wash for over 15 years and was responsible for spearheading the company’s rapid growth. After his retirement, the company continued its aggressive growth and today operates nearly 400 locations.

Ron has over 30 years of experience in the car wash industry. Prior to Mister Car Wash, he founded Blue Coral Systems in 1986 where he served as the Company’s CEO until the company was sold to Ecolab in January of 1999. At the time, Blue Coral was the largest supplier of chemical, wax, and other cleaning products to the car wash industry.

Prior to Blue Coral, Ron was employed at Ecolab for 18 years, where he worked in many capacities including five years as Vice President of New Business Ventures. During that time, he started up four (4) additional companies for Ecolab which are still operating successfully today.

Ron served on the Board of the International Carwash Association from 1990 to 1996 and in 2001 received their Car Wash Hall of Fame Award, which is the highest award the ICA can bestow upon an individual. Members of the Hall of Fame have demonstrated an outstanding ability and dedication both in the operation of their business and in their service to the car wash industry. In addition, in 1997 he received their President’s Award and their Distinguished Service Award.

Ron and his wife Mary Ann founded the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic in 1986 to support research for children’s cancer, which has raised over $6.3 million and continues its fundraising after 36 years. Ron also served on the Board of the Saint Paul Children’s Hospital, the Board of Children’s Cancer Research Fund, and the Board of Intermountain Centers for Human Development which offers high quality community services to the Tucson’s at-risk population.

Ron and Mary Ann were blessed with four daughters who have given them 12 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Interested in the episode but don’t have time to listen right now? See the full interview below!

JT 0:01
Welcome to Scaling Car Washes. I’m your host, JT Thomson. I built my first car wash in 2002. And since then I’ve been involved at every level of the carwash ownership experience. I’ve built and sold my own car washes, and as a Sonny’s distributor, I’ve helped other owners build and operate their car washes. Along the way, I’ve been a multi-unit restaurant owner with 23 units in five states. We’ll talk to experts in the carwash industry and related industries that can share insight information that will help you build, scale, and ultimately exit your multi-unit carwash platform.

Welcome, everybody to today’s Scaling Car Washes Podcast. I’m JT Thomson, your host. I am here today with really one of the legends of this business, Ron Peterson. Ron was the CEO and really the guy who drove Mister Car Wash from just kind of a handful of washes… I think he stepped in. I’m gonna let him kind of give a little bit of that background. But he really took it from just a handful of washes and drove it to the juggernaut that it is today. And I met Ron about 11 years ago, and just had a fantastic experience with him. He’s been just a mentor and a great friend all these years. So it’s a real honor and a real privilege for me to be able to sit down with him and have a conversation, and I don’t think people realize how many millionaires in this business that you really drove, right? Because the way you started Mister was really the template for where we are today, Ron! And so, anyway, I’m kind of getting out ahead of ourselves. But Ron, why don’t you give us just a background on how did you get into the car wash business? I know you started on the chemistry side, but how did you get into the operation side?

Ron 1:44
My first real job was with a company called Ecolab. I moved through the ranks to eventually become vice president of new business ventures. And the carwash segment was just one of five companies I was running, or that I had started. The other four are still running: health care division, private label division, car wash, of course, janitorial. In any case, eventually I got tired of working for a corporation. They were a great company. And they still are. And I went out on my own. I moved 11 families from St. Paul, Minnesota down to Tucson, Arizona

JT 2:22
Was that hard sell?

Ron 2:23
I had to meet with every wife!

JT 2:25
I bet you did!

Ron 2:26
That’s what I did. I met with the wives. I didn’t really have much to offer at the time. I couldn’t even guarantee salaries for longer than a year. And I told them that.

JT 2:33
What were you moving down for? Were you starting? Was that when you were starting…? Was that when you were…?

Ron 2:37
We were going to move to Phoenix first of all, and then I looked at a business down in Tucson that I really liked. It was called Mountain States, this distributor. So, anyways, I bought them, and at the same time moved eleven families and their kids, got them into school.

JT 2:50
So you got down here…?

Ron 2:52
Anyway, I started what is now known as Blue Coral. I made a deal with the founder of Blue Coral retail. And I took the name, and we built it into the biggest chemical company in the United States, the biggest chemical company that sold to car washes, that is. And we were throughout Europe, and so on. Eventually, I got tired of the travel, and I sold it to Shell Oil. Eventually, I took it back again and sold it to Ecolab, which is where I started from there. I retired happy boy!

JT 3:23
Give me a time frame. Is this like late 90s?

Ron 3:25
Yes. I got tired of not working because I was still pretty young. And I was approached by some private equity guys out of San Francisco, the Macmillan group. And they had a busted consolidation play going that wasn’t very pretty. I was recommended by a few of the owners. The guys, they had this concept of maintaining the name of the car wash and also keeping the same management on, which wasn’t working very well. And I don’t think it works because, first of all, these guys… The car wash guys are the neatest guys in the world. And that’s why out of all the businesses I was running, that’s the one I picked to go into. Just because I enjoyed the company.

JT 4:02
Very entrepreneurial, you know. Salt of the earth. Yeah, I totally get it!

Ron 4:05
They really are! But in any case, I took it on. The company came with a lot more toxic debt that I saw. And I’m not even sure they showed me everything!

JT 4:15
I’m sure they didn’t.

Ron 4:17
But it was a rough go. The bankers wouldn’t look at us at that time. Car washers had a bad name.

JT 4:23
Yeah, it was a single use property play. Banks didn’t love it. You know, you had a…. There was no scalability, there was no technology to support it. Back in the day, it was full service, and if you owned three full service washes, I mean, you had the tiger by the tail. Then you had the in-bay automatics, which were really the gas station play, and then you had the self serve.

Ron 4:42
So yeah, the research on the industry was done by Harvard. It is real interesting. I gave you those numbers. And you’ll find them to be quite interesting, the way they looked at the deal. But in any case, I was… As I said, I was approached by… I think Bill Martin was involved at the time.

JT 5:00
Yeah, yeah. Bill’s another legend in this in this business, and he’s been around. Oh, man, he’s active! That guy

Ron 5:06
He’s still doing deals?

JT 5:07
He’s still doing deals. I talk to Bill all the time, man!

Ron 5:11
And that’s the kind of people that are in this industry. There’s so many people like Bill. But anyways, I took the job and started, and then I really found out what it was all about, because the debt was just incredible.

JT 5:24
So what did they have? So when you took over, Ron, and this private equity group came, and they were trying to figure out what to do. They meet with you, what did they own? What were they…? What did you step into?

Ron 5:36
Well, fortunately, the best asset they owned… Now, Bill might take exception with this, but…Was Mister Car Wash, in Houston, Texas. They were incredible, procedure wise, operational wise, just… And they were well funded. And they made a lot of money. And they watched about 200,000 cars per car wash every year.

JT 5:54
Back in the day, that was a lot! It’s a lot of car races today. But yeah, back in the day, that’s really unheard of!

Ron 5:58
That was really so that was the biggest asset. And that’s really what we kind of formed procedures and working efforts and so on like that. And there were a few guys in there that really knew the inside of that company. And they came along with the deal. And fortunately, we were able to fashion many other car washes after that.

JT 6:01
What are we talking about… early 2000s right now? Okay. ’03, ’04? Were those full service washes?

Ron 6:21
Mister Car Wash was bought before I came. They were holdings of…

JT 6:25
So that was part of the group. Yes. That was the private equity partners at the time.

Ron 6:30
Mister Car Wash was one of their holdings. Anyways, when it came in, I basically tried to change everything and do it just like they did. They cleaned their bathroom three times an hour. We cleaned our bathrooms three times an hour, they cleaned their lot constantly. We cleaned our lot constantly. They had customer service that was second to none. We created customer service that was second to none. It just on and on and on. So anyways, that was the most fortuitous!

JT 6:54
And you were mainly in the full service when you get started, right?

Ron 6:58
Right. And then a little later on, we started putting Express Lanes. Sure. And then there’s a little long known guy, I would mention his name right now but the guy by name Yobi Boyo over in San Diego. Yep. He called me one day and just said, “Ron, you’ve got to come look this.” And it was the unlimited wash club.

JT 7:15
Oh, yeah.

Ron 7:15
And it was the was some of the first ones ever been done. And, man, what a homerun that is. I think Mister does maybe a million and a half…

JT 7:23
Yeah, they’ve got over a million easy. In 2005… So I built my first wash, ultimately, that I sold to you, and we’ll talk about that. But you know, so I started doing an unlimited wash back then. But there was no technology to support it, right? We used kind of like the old Hertz system, like when you go rent a car, they had their side pack and the barcode. We used to put a barcode… We’d have to open a customer’s door and then put a barcode sticker on there so we’d know they were a member, so they pulled up…

Ron 7:49
Did DRV ever step up to the plate for you?

JT 7:51
No. They came in… So they were… this was ’05. So, when you’re looking at like, they started coming in around ’07 or ’08 trying to get into the space. Because we ended up having to just… My GM, every day, we’d have to go and manually type in credit cards to run them manually. So it was ugly. It was a disaster. But I knew there was a pony in there someplace. So you guys, you know, you go to San Diego, you look at it, you start bringing that model back. Because I remember when you guys bought my washes, you were one of the few groups that were really kind of used to it.

Ron 8:24
And putting in an express lane in a full service car wash, really that was what motivated us and really made the deal work. Because most of the frequent customers don’t need the insides of their cars vacuumed every week. Okay, but now they can come every week. And they don’t have to wait a long line. They can be in and out in about five minutes.

JT 8:43
Did people think you were crazy?

Ron 8:45
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

JT 8:47
Everybody thought when we’re doing unlimited… They just… All the car wash guys were mad at me. Right? Because they felt like I was undermining the business…

Ron 8:57
My CFO, who I think was one of the best CFOs in the world, Larry Benek… He was really against it, man! Take all your great customer, and…

JT 9:07
I know. Right?

Ron 9:09
But boy, did it work! It just worked. It really has made…

JT 9:14
It’s fundamentally changed the unit economics in this business. And really, that’s been a big factor of the growth that we’ve seen and really the attractiveness to institutional money coming in. So, you know, you’re growing, right? So when did you start acquiring, right? So you had a handful of washes, you had some private equity. You were, you know, saddled with some toxic debt. How did you get out of that hole? Because… How was it that you were successful?

Ron 9:45
One was a big accident, JT. We had to find funding source, and the banks weren’t a source. Yeah, I don’t even know… I’ve been on it for some time, but I don’t know if banks are a source now. A significant source… But refinancing. And I went to a reach Show in Las Vegas by myself. And I met these guys….

JT 10:07
And this is critical. This is like the pivotal point of our growth…

Ron 10:11
I just received a note from one of the senior VPs, or no, the president sent me a nice Christmas note! And they really made us at the time because that was the funding that we needed. And I met them on the floor and walked around a little bit, and told them what our situation was. They were down here the following week. We closed the deal like two weeks after. They sat through one business presentation. And that was it. And it was candy by the door after that. Just about any deal! And we walked away from a lot of deals. You know, we weren’t… it was a stupid money we were spending.

JT 10:18
And I want to kind of unpack this a little bit because you know, back in the day, right, you had Wash Depot, Mace, right? They were trying to get into the space… How was it that you were successful? Like, what is it? Why did you figure that out? And why couldn’t they do it? I’m just curious!

Ron 11:03
It really was an accident. The 2008 thing hit. And you really couldn’t get funding at all! To do anything. Yeah, these guys were still chasing acquisitions; we just started making the company better. We made the process faster, we made the customer service better, we cleaned our bathrooms three times an hour, we cleaned. It was a career decision if the general manager walked across a lot and didn’t pick up a piece of paper. Now, that might sound harsh, but you only have to do it once. Right? Everybody gets the message. So we just basically changed the model.

JT 11:39
So, you know, call it ’08, ’09, ’10. How many of your washes were express only at that point?

Ron 11:48
Oh, I’d say less than 15%.

JT 11:52
All the others were full service.

Ron 11:54
We did chase Express car washes. But we did convert everybody. And express lanes, too. We looked at full service. Back then, if we couldn’t put an express line, then we didn’t buy it.

JT 12:05
Yeah. So, just as a little history for people. So I had two tunnel washes in Salt Lake City. Tou were coming in — this is 2011, 2012, that you were in the process of buying a group of washes. They were called firehouse, owned by a buddy of mine named Darryl Jones. And those were all full service washes; we were an express model. So, you were in the process of buying them. And that’s how you and I were introduced, if you recall. And then, subsequently, you bought my downtown location, which was… It was very busy, then. You guys have just… I think you’ve more than doubled the volume on that wash! But at that time, I think you guys had like 75 washes. And I think you were just really starting to do a huge push on the Express model and throttling back on the full service. Does that ring a bell?

Ron 12:56
Yeah, yeah, I don’t know about the word throttle. We still are very interested in full service washing; it’s a great service to our customer. And especially the customer that has a frequent washing card. They like to have the insides of the cars. They don’t have any kids at home anymore that ride in the car and trash the inside of the car. So they really… the inside of the cars just don’t get as dirty.

JT 13:20
Yeah, it’s interesting, I think, you know, and we’ll be all over the map here a little bit. But if you look at the full service today, and I was I would always tell people this and you can always make more money in full service, you’re just going to work, you know, you might make 20% more money, but you’re gonna work about 200% harder to make that 20% so it’s kind of… And some people do a great job. And I think as the Express model is increasing, you know, and you’re seeing kind of a shrinking… You’re starting to see a lot of those full service guys turn and flip and then…

Ron 13:52
They’re tired.

JT 13:53
Yeah, they’re tired. It’s hard. It’s a lot of work, and then just given the whole labor model … So I think there is a there’s always going to be a market for it. I think it’s shrinking. But I think the one thing that those guys are gonna have to do is really up their price because they need to get paid for the effort, and the days of trying to battle on that… I wouldn’t do it personally! I would… If I was gonna do full service, I would just be price be damned! Because the people that come in there are the guys like you that drive a 911. You don’t care, and you’re going to drive through there, and you’re going to want somebody to do your car, and if it cost you 60 bucks, 70 bucks you don’t care!

Ron 14:26
Yeah, yeah, I would be careful you know to just blanket say that we should get rid of the full service.

JT 14:35
I wouldn’t say that! I think it’s… There’s a niche. It’s become a more niche.

Ron 14:39
It’s very necessary. I think any good major car wash chain should have a certain amount of full serve carwashes… But they can have Express car washes inside!

JT 14:49
Yeah. When I was at Go…

Ron 14:51
All they need is that extra lane!

JT 14:52
Right! We had, at Go, when I was at Go, we acquired a bunch of washes in the Kansas City Market, and one of them was a full Service wash. And we had internal conversations about it, and we just felt like it was a… It would serve all of our kind of surrounding Express washes. So, we kept it! And it’s been — I’m no longer there. But I think those guys are doing good. They do a good job. And I think it’s been a good asset for them to maintain. So yeah, I do agree with you. I think that there’s always going to be a market. It’s niche, and you just got to get paid for it. Let me kind of back up. So I’m kind of getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.

Ron 15:26
Are you still connected to Salt Lake?

JT 15:27
So, I was in Park City. So we sold our place in Park City, and we’re with LUV Car Wash. We’re now based in Phoenix… So Darren’s Skarecky — You know Darren! Darren was the CFO for Mister for a while, and he and I are partners — so, we started LUV Car Wash, and it’s based out of Phoenix… It’s been a while since I’ve, you know, bumped into Guy or Mike Carson or any of those guys up there. But yeah, there’s a handful of guys that that kind of come from that original era!

Ron 16:00
By the way, you know, talking about going into the car wash space, and you kind of forgot this, but I started a group called the enhancement repair. And I learned more from those guys than anybody. It was just the greatest. And I just kept my mouth shut. All I did was host the meetings. The rules were basically you couldn’t compete with anybody in the room. That was the one rule. At some point in time, as these guys grew, they had to step away. But man did I learn from them! They’re the best car washer in the United States and some of the world!

JT 16:29
Yeah, so I know, Bill is still a part, I think, of that original enhancement group. And I think it’s still going. It’s a bunch of the guys that really were the fathers of this type of business model. And, yeah, they get together. That’s one of the things I really have loved about this industry, where it’s kind of a coopetition.

Ron 16:48
Good word for it!

JT 16:49
Right, you know, yeah, you end up helping each other! And even in my market, like Dow Jones, you know, we’re competitors. If he was out of tire shine, he could call me and I would make sure that he could come pick up some.

Ron 17:01
That’s why I love the industry!

JT 17:02
Right. And you know, there’s always going to be some Hatfields and McCoys that go on, and, you know, some arguments, and some of that, but it historically, it has been really good. I think it’s getting teased out a little bit, you know, now that you’ve got private equity coming in, and there’s consolidation. So, there’s a little bit of a dynamic, I try to hold on to that old school culture. And I think there’s still a lot of guys in this business that are like that. But you talked about the enhancement group. We’re putting together a mastermind group; same kind of concept. It’s kind of getting a handful of guys that aren’t in the same market together and sharing ideas and, you know… Trying to be innovative because that’s one of the things that I’m sure you can attest to this — it’s very entrepreneurial, right? Car wash guys are super entrepreneurial; they’re always thinking about how to improve something and playing with it, not scared to do it. So you got the Bob Hobbs and Bill Martin. These guys… Like Bob was like the you know, the the crazy old mad scientist of this business. He’s tried some of the craziest stuff out there. But, man, not afraid to throw some stuff up against the wall and see what sticks! And, you know, that’s how a lot of the innovation has started in here. Because you don’t have a lot of formal engineers! It’s not like Boeing, right? You know, where they’re coming through, and you’ve got an r&d department with engineers and scientists and everybody else. This is just a bunch of guys like me and you, scratching our heads, and trying to figure out: how can I get just a few more cars through here? How can I get this car little bit drier? How can I do this?

Ron 17:26
You saw how it’s structured. It is incredible what John has done. It is absolutely blew my mind when I was reading some of the docs.

JT 18:38
Yeah, it’s amazing. And I want to talk about that. So, as you you were buying… So when you bought my first wash, I think in 2012 or 2013, you had about 75 units. And then by the time you bought my second unit up in Salt Lake City, you almost were doubled in about a 14 or 15 month period, so you were on fire. And then you… I remember in the middle of that second transaction — because I did that deal. And I was way over my skis! I overbuilt. I built a big double tunnel, if you remember. We had 45 free vacuums. I mean, it was… That thing was five pay stations back… This is like way over built back in the day.

Ron 19:15
Before its time.

JT 19:16
Before its time. And so, I couldn’t get out of it what I needed to. You guys really wanted because you knew if you put it in your network… But what was interesting was is you were kind of looking at making the exit about that same time. And the earnout was going to… So, we structured an earn out on that deal, if you recall. And there was a multi-year tail on it. And I was a little bit concerned because I didn’t know John, right? And you’re saying that John was going to be coming in and ultimately taking over. And one thing I really appreciated, Ron, is that you were always upfront, always transparent. And I appreciated that. That’s one of the things that I’ve tried to take away from our relationship and as I go, and do deals, and we acquire, I always try to reflect back on how you treated me during that process. And forever I’ll be grateful for that. But you said, “Hey, listen!” You know, you kind of gave me a preview that John would be coming in. And I was a little concerned, right? Because I kind of felt like I was doing an earn out. I did not do an earn out on the first one. And I felt like an earn out was based off of some trust. I didn’t care what the document said. Because I didn’t have the money to go and burn out a ton of legal money. I felt like, you know, the paper is only as good as the guy looking across the desk for me on it. And so I was nervous. So John… You know, so you introduced me to John, and that was… You know, he’s taken that on. And he’s done a fantastic job. Did you have any idea that this thing would be literally a multi billion dollar company, either A when you start it or B even when you handed it off? I mean, you probably had a pretty good preview by the time you handed it off to John.

Ron 20:51
I had some high aspirations, but what I didn’t know was how much work I had to put in. In other words, how much time I had spent on an airplane, and things like that. John has stepped in and just, man, just blown the thing out of water. He has. He’s really done a great job. And he’s very ethical. You can trust him. If he says it, it’s going to happen.

JT 21:00
Yeah. 100%.

Ron 21:15
We worked together for 20 years. He worked with me I look eco corp also.

JT 21:19
So you… so I don’t know if I knew that. So you, you had kind of, obviously you have the the family ties. So I knew that…

Ron 21:25
There was pushback by investors at the time, but I figured, “Screw it. I’m still running this company. I’m going to do what I want to do.” I’m not hiring him because he’s a relative; I’m hiring him because he’s the best there is.

JT 21:35
Right! Well, he’s done a great job. Yeah, I mean, listen, I think all my peers should be… We need John to be successful. I always tell people that we need… We don’t want Mister to stub their toe. So, you know, it’s kind of coopetition, right? We are out doing our thing; they’re doing their thing. And I always try to have a very friendly relationship. But I need John to be successful. Right? I think all my peers need John to be successful, because that’s creating stability in our business. If we had John stub his toe or a couple of the big guys stub their toe, it’s going to reverberate through the whole industry. So it’s interesting. He’s done a great job!

Ron 22:14
Very employee friendly business. If you go to any car washer in town, or in any town, they’re proud to work there. They are really proud! And they’re proud to open the door for you.

JT 22:23
Yeah, it’s been a great culture here. I do know that when you look at the book… Really what you started, right? I tell people, you’re kind of like The Godfather, because you took that that REIT model, which really was the jet fuel that went into the tank to really drive and propel the growth. And that’s been copied over and over and over again. And that’s really… I mean, listen, I’m in those meetings, right? I mean, we’ve got private equity backers, and we’re buying stuff. And so I kind of know how the game is played. And we’re just really kind of following the trail that’s been burned through by you coming up. So God bless you, man! You’ve made a lot of people very wealthy, and a lot of people, myself included, just very grateful that we’ve been able to be in the business in an industry that’s growing like it is. And some people are frustrated, right? Some of the old guys… They don’t want all the growth. They liked it kind of the way it was, and change is tough. But change is inevitable. And so, I do think I’m seeing a lot of positives that come out of it. I think it’s more of a career path for people. I think we’re able to pay our people better. And the number of people that came out of Mister from that IPO, and that public offering… A lot of people had stock, and have done very well! And so, you know, I think it’s great. I think it’s been…

Ron 23:42
John told me, I think I’m telling school, but it made over 100 millionaires…

JT 23:47
100 millionaires, right!? These are

Ron 23:49
In one day!

JT 23:50
Yeah. It’s fantastic, man. It just makes me super proud to be a part of it. So, you handed the reins where you were when you handed it off to John, we like, man, take it on done or we’ve heavy hard or you know, tell me tell me a little bit about that. No,

Ron 24:05
I it was something I had to do. Again, my wife got sick. I’m glad I did it. I’m really, really glad I did it. And I couldn’t have done a good a job as what John has done. It needed that kind of new blood.

JT 24:18
Yeah. Well, he’s done a good job. There’s been no regrets. And I think, your wife, Mary Ann… That was a good time for you to be able to focus on her, and that’s really the most important part of what we do, right, as we… is your family and being part of it. It’s one of the things I love about this business is that there’s some real family guys in this business. So it’s been exciting to be a part of it. What are you doing these days? What keeps you busy right now?

Ron 24:45
Not enough.

JT 24:45
I’ll put you to work, Buddy! I’ll put you on a plane!

Ron 24:48
I don’t want to do that again. But, you know, some charitable causes I’m still active in.

JT 24:58
Are you up traveling much?

Ron 25:00
Yeah, in fact, I’ve got to spend eight months a year up there.

JT 25:04
Yeah. That’s good living there. For sure. So the other part, you’re down here in Tucson. You’ve got grandkids down here. You’re just…

Ron 25:12
I’ve got lots of buddies and stuff like that. Yeah, where I’m moving, I’m going to have even more. I’m selling the house that Mary Ann and I lived in.

JT 25:22
Here in Tucson?

Ron 25:23
Yeah, it was way too big! It’s like 9000 feet! No. But now, I’ll get into a little place. 2400 square feet. And that’s going to be perfect.

JT 25:33
Yeah, that’s great.

Ron 25:37
That might work pretty well. No, I should be doing more than what I’m doing.

JT 25:44
Well, you look good. Well, listen, Ron, it’s… Again, I am forever grateful for our relationship. You are a mentor, you’re just a great human being. You are a guy who does what he says he’s going to do. And that’s a rare quality in this.

Ron 26:00
One thing! And I’ll say this. I don’t have to do any good, but for the industry to continue to thrive, they’ve got to solve the water problem.

JT 26:10
How do we do it?

Ron 26:13
I’m saying maybe you’ve got to wash cars without water. Maybe there’s a way! I don’t know. But I know if I was in the industry, I’d be looking for a way.

JT 26:23
Yeah. And there’s probably some innovation that… People are knocking on that door. But yeah…

Ron 26:28
Simple reclaim systems, the way that they’ve operated, at least when I was working them, aren’t enough. It’s just not enough. Especially in the southwest. But I see the misuse of water all the time. It is truly a car wash industry issue. So you drive from here down, back down to Two Pocket. You’ll see hundreds of acres of pecan trees. They have no right to plant pecan trees.They’re huge water users. And not only that, they’re like an acre deep off the road. It’s that kind of misuse of water. We’ve just got to start paying attention to it!

JT 27:08
Yeah, I hear you!

Ron 27:09
The guy that finds a way? He’s going to be very successful.

JT 27:15
Yeah, he will earn his money. Any other things, you know, that you would… Advice you can share with people that are…?

Ron 27:23
Oh, I just think if you’re going to be in a car wash business, you know, just do it right. Do it right for your employees. Make them proud to be working there. It used to be such a menial job.

JT 27:35

Ron 27:36
And now it’s now it’s moving to the point where the managers… They can have a nice salary, and they can support their families. I hope they are doing that!

JT 27:50
It’s moving in that direction. Listen, we acquire stuff. And I think that’s one of the… These big consolidators, LUV and these other guys, Mister and those guys… I think that’s one of the things that they bring to the table for a seller is they can hand their employees off to an organization that’s got more resources, and it’s got more of a career path. And I think that was really absent in this business for a long time. And I’m… I can say I was part of it. Listen, I was glad just to keep the lights on and pay the bills there for a little while during ’07 and ’08. We were growing, and it was tough sledding back then. But, you know…

Ron 28:29
I think ’07/ ’08 was good for us.

JT 28:31
We grew every year, but we didn’t grow at the rate that we… that you see a lot of washes coming out of the gate now. So, we were relatively new, but all things considered, we felt like…

Ron 28:42
It slowed us down, you know? It slowed us down.

JT 28:47
Yeah! From the financing side, that was the tough part for guys like myself is banks, you know, all sudden went to 40 or 45%. LTV, right? So you had to come in… If it was… Back then, you know, you’re at a two and a half million dollar budget to build an express wash, and you have to come in with 40 to 50%. I mean, you’re coming in with a lot of capital, right? And there’s no leverage there. So you know, it was tough, right? You couldn’t really grow. Well, Ron. Enjoyed it! You’re just a great guy. So thanks so much for being on the show. Everybody. This is JT Thomson. You’ve been listening to the scaling carwashes podcast with Ron Peterson, the former CEO of Mister carwash, and it’s been a real honor. Thanks, everybody.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of the Scaling Car Washes podcast. Please subscribe to stay current with all of our episodes coming up. Thanks, and I’m JT Thomson, your host.