When water is scarce and citizens face mandatory water restrictions because of the drought, starting a car wash business wouldn’t seem to be a wise move.
Six businessmen, however, thought the drought conditions were the perfect environment for their car wash business.
Businessman Randy Gibson, his wife, Linda, and four others - Erik Clendenen, Lisa Clendenen, Jason Hicks and Casey Hicks, put their heads together and started Bubba’s Waterless Car Wash. Randy Gibson assumed the job of president and co-owner.
Gibson said the technology has been available for about 10 years. “The problem with it was that it was a novelty type thing,” said Gibson. “The product that was used was kerosene-based. The product we’re using has no kerosene in it. It’s all evironmentally friendly, no chemicals.”
The introduction of the microfiber towels in recent years also helped the Gibsons decide that the business was something people would like.
“That is something new that just come out three or four years ago. It has revolutionized the car cleaning industry,” he said.
Gibson said now is the time to look at ways to save water when washing vehicles. “With the tie in with water shortage, the time has come to clean cars the non-traditional way,” he said. “We’re hoping we can eventually do a franchise. We are in on the ground level.”
Co-owner Erik Clendenen said this is how cars are washed in Australia. “Now it’s time for America to follow,” he said.
Randy Gibson said the company is very young. “Mid-October was when the idea came to me and I started the research,” he said. “Since then we’ve been gathering data and trying to form the company and get it up and running.”
The whole idea of a waterless car wash flies in the face of common sense, said Gibson. “But when you use this product, it’s totally amazing how it works. It blew me way. I could not believe it would work like it does.”
The main thrust of their business is the convenience factor, said the owners. “We can go to the site where a car is and do the job while the customer is working. We can do it at the job site or home, said Gibson. “The environmental aspects are positive, too. The national average of water used each time a car is washed is between 80 and 140 gallons per car or vehicle.”
Clendenen said the population has grown rapidly in Blount County the last few years, adding to the drought problem. “Our water facilities haven’t been able to keep pace,” Clendenen said. “We’ve already seen the days when the government cut off water for us. We’re still in a drought, and it will take years to catch up. We’re still 15 to 17 inches behind, and, even if it was to come a steady rain for several days, we would still not be caught up.”
“We’re an eco-business,” added Gibson. “We’ve done calculations based on what cars we have cleaned and products we’ve sold,” he said. “We’ve saved already over 20,000 gallons of water since the third of January based on averages.”
Randy Gibson said he learned about the waterless car wash system because the drought was having an effect on his other business. “I had another business, a lawn care business. We were in the middle of the drought. I had no lawns to mow. I wanted to wash the vehicles, but there were restrictions in place. I thought, ‘There has to be a better way,’” he said. “I found this system available and zeroed in on this particular product because of the aspects of it being environmentally friendly.”
The name Bubba has family ties for the owners, especially Randy Gibson.
“Bubba is a nickname from my granddaughter,” Gibson said. “It’s a personal term of endearment. Most of my close friends and family call me that.”