Wash Corral It's All Inside
Jim and Elaine Norland
|Car Wash Corral.
A car leaves the self-service bay area. The touchless automatic's
exit is on the left.
It may look something like a barn - and that's deliberate - but
its "stalls" are filled not with livestock but with cars
and trucks needing to shed mud, dust and road chemicals.
Car Wash Corral in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, has been open only
a few months, but it's already rounding up some 7,000 or more vehicles
a month for washes that some customers say are the best in the province.
Housed in a structure that resembles a barn to blend with the Western
motif of both Cochrane and nearby Calgary (10 or 15 minutes away
on Highway 1-A), Car Wash Corral's eight self-serve bays and one
touchless automatic are exceeding its owners' projections in volume
and pleasing vehicle owners with clean vehicles.
Shafique and Karim Javer opened this new wash in mid-December (2001)
on the site of their former business - a gas station, convenience
store and four-bay truck wash - at 102 River Avenue. With margins
tightening on gasoline and its 25-year age starting to show, the
Javers decided to tear down the old business and build a new structure
wholly devoted to car washing.
|Curtains separate self-serve
bays. Note the vacuum inside the bay. The exit door is on the
Doing their own contracting, the Javer brothers (Karim is trained
as an engineer, and Shafique holds degrees in business and mathematics)
built Car Wash Corral in about five and a half months. They attribute
their entrepreneurial spirit to their father, Rahim, a skilled auto
mechanic who was part of their business until he had a heart attack
five years ago.
The 8,000-square-foot Car Wash Corral building, plus entrance and
exit drives, maximizes use of the one-acre site. A Millennium in-bay
automatic from Specialty Equipment Company is alongside the main
building's eight self-serve bays, each bay separated by curtains
from its neighbors.
The building's exterior is comprised of Octaform walls, hollow
plastic forms that can be erected on-site and linked together to
achieve the desired building configuration. During construction,
rebar, insulation, and concrete are inserted into the cavities of
the Octaform units, yielding a structure that is solid, attractive,
and well able to withstand weather extremes.
The beige exterior walls (one of the colors available from Octaform)
are topped with a red metal gabled roof to complete the barn-like
look. Interior walls of the Octaform panels are white to add to
the brightness of the car wash interior.
The Javer brothers filled the 10-inch wall thickness with four
inches of insulation and six inches of concrete, a combination that
works nicely in an area that sometimes sees temperatures as low
as 30 to 35 degrees below zero.
Car Wash Corral has heated pads for cars that are entering or leaving
the facility, heated floors inside, and controls for entrance and
exit doors that assure only one is open at a time.
The combination of these elements means that even in the heart
of winter, customers can comfortably wash their vehicles any time
the wash is open, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, all year
Another feature attuned to Calgary's climate and road conditions:
a complimentary undercarriage wash is given each vehicle entering
Car Wash Corral before its driver chooses an empty stall for his
vehicle's wash. The Javer brothers are also adding air lines so
that excess water can be blown out of locks before the car or truck
encounters freezing weather again.
The entire wash, inside and out, is brightly lit to enhance the
clean look of the wash and to assure customer safety. The Javers
operate some 10,000 watts of lighting, which also enables customers,
many of them commuting between the Cochrane area and Calgary, to
wash their vehicles as they return from work after daylight has
wash at the entrance to the self-serve bays.
Adding to customer safety is the consistent presence of one or
both of the Javer brothers. They have an office and mini-store near
the front exit of the wash. While they don't stock the variety once
offered in their convenience store, they have some car accessories
such as wiping cloths and snacks and beverages. They were well-known
in the area for their excellent coffee, so that tradition is kept
in the new facility.
Right behind their office is another customer convenience, two
K9 Self-Serve Pet Washes, where pet owners can wash their dogs or
any other "reasonably sized pet," as supplier P.D. McLaren
Limited suggests. Those pet owners can park just outside the wash
while washing their pet.
"The doggie washes have brought a lot of interest, and now
with the weather getting better, that business is picking up quite
a bit," Shafique Javer reports. The pet washes have a ramp
so that the pet can easily come up to a convenient washing height
for its owner. The units, which each require just 100 square feet
of space, offer a choice of shampoos, rinses and other grooming
The eight self-serve wash bays inside the main barn-like structure
are arranged in a herringbone pattern pointed in toward a central
exit path. Vehicles enter through one automatic door and, after
that free undercarriage wash, choose an unoccupied bay for washing.
If all bays are occupied, the automatic entrance door tells customers
and won't operate until someone leaves.
Customers can insert coins in the push-button GinSan controllers
and immediately see how many minutes of operation they have left.
The clock keeps track of their remaining time so they don't get
an unexpected cutoff. The acceptors at each bay also read ExpressKEY
cards (for commercial vehicle owners as well as some individual
The self-serve unit is the BayMaster 2000, also from P.D. McLaren
Limited. One unusual feature of the self-serve coin acceptors is
the Vac-It-Up, a system that automatically senses a coin drop and
briefly turns on a vacuum line that sweeps coins into a central
vault. That eliminates the task of emptying individual coin boxes
and concern about coin box vandalism, McLaren representative Rob
Forbes and Al Derksen, also with P.D. McLaren, helped the Javer
brothers in studying the feasibility and then the design and equipment
for Car Wash Corral, but Shafique and Karim did their own research
and studied other equipment options at Car Care World Expo in Las
Vegas last year.
As members of the Canadian Car Wash Association for the past year,
the brothers also keep up with industry news and developments from
that source. They stay attuned to local and area trends. For example,
they use all fresh water now in their wash. As public support for
water recycling and reclamation grows, they are studying options
in that area, anticipating need for such equipment within about
|A clean dog in a clean car
- here's where you get it.
The Javers, capitalizing on their already established reputation
in Cochrane, ran teaser ads for their new business for about a month
before opening, first with just their logo and "coming soon,"
and then some descriptions of features. The week before opening,
they ran a full spread in the local paper. The paper sent a reporter
to do a story on the new enterprise.
Thanks also to a fortunate break in the weather, opening day was
very busy. A warm day came at the end of a cold and snowy week,
so drivers were ready to wash their cars and trucks, and they drove
away pleased with the results.
Such swings of temperature are frequent in Cochrane, thanks in
part to the warm Chinooks that blow down on the area to interrupt
cold spells. That creates slushy conditions, and after dealing with
the salt and gravel used to de-ice some roads, drivers need to wash
their cars frequently.
Pickups and duallies (vehicles with dual rear wheels) are popular
in the area. Karim estimates that
40 percent of Corral Car Wash customers drive such vehicles, 60
percent conventional passenger cars.
Cochrane, a city of about 11,000 population, also draws business
from a market area of about another 10,000 people, Shafique says.
The city has just one other self-serve wash, a six-bay operation,
and one brush-equipped rollover automatic, so a ready market existed
for the Millennium touchless automatic.
|Everything to meet Fido's needs.
In fact, that Millennium is doing "two to three times what
we expected," Shafique Javer reports. "The machine does
a good job, including on the trucks and duallies we have around
here," he notes. The automatic unit is washing about 3,000
cars a month. Karim Javer estimates the self-serve bays are handling
between 3,600 and 4,000 cars monthly, which is also more than they
had projected. Given the popularity of the automatic wash, the Javer
brothers say they might have added a second unit like that and,
assuming the same site limitations, sacrificed some self-serve bays.
"We would, down the road, like to build another car wash,
probably in Calgary, but we'd have to consider our location carefully
because of the many gas stations with rollover washes that offer
a discount on wash services," Shafique observes. He believes,
however, that by concentrating on car washing as a separate enterprise
he and Karim can assure a higher quality wash and a better-maintained
The strong reception and growing volume for Car Wash Corral seems
proof they can deliver those advantages to drivers no matter where
they establish their next enterprise.
Jim and Elaine Norland are regular contributors to Auto Laundry