The dawn of the car wash era has begun.
By the mid-1940s, there were approximately 32 drive-through car washes nationwide. In 1946, a semiautomatic car wash system was developed with a conveyor belt that hooked to the bumper of automobiles. It had an overhead water sprinkler with three sets of manually operated brushes and a 50 HP air blower to help dry the car. All of these elements would become an important part of the car wash industry in the future.
In 1955, while on vacation in Mexico, Dan Hanna, Sr., stayed in a motel located across the street from a car wash. The mechanically-minded Hanna became very interested. He studied the car wash’s operation and visited extensively with the owner/operator. He returned to his home town of Portland, Oregon, and with money his mother obtained by mortgaging their home, Hanna opened his first Rub-A-Dub car wash in Milwaukie, Oregon. This led to the creation of Hanna Enterprises. Two years later, he opened his second wash and ultimately had 31 successful Rub-A-Dub car washes operating in the Portland area. As his business grew, Hanna recognized the need for faster and more efficient car wash equipment … so he invented it.
In 1959, Hanna tinkered with and tested his wash rack until he had a working model of the first mechanized car washing system. Word spread about Hanna’s machine, and he began to put them in other people’s car washes.
By the mid-1960s, Hanna Enterprises had clearly established itself as the premier innovator and manufacturer of car wash equipment. Hanna made and patented several inventions that revolutionized the car wash industry, including Wraparound Brush, Roller-On-Demand Conveyor, Soft Cloth Friction Wash, Triple Approach to Tire Washing, and Recirculating Water System. As a result, Hanna Enterprises became the world’s largest conveyorized vehicle wash equipment manufacturer.
Hanna launched an aggressive marketing campaign in 1966 to expand its international business and installed its first international car wash in Japan in 1967.
In 1968, Hanna Enterprises became Hanna Industries and began an extensive acquisition effort acquiring Lark, Reuter Sons Manufacturing and Flaming Equipment Company. In addition, Hanna expanded its distribution capabilities in a contract with Country Club Carwash, Inc.
As with many industries, the 1970s were difficult times for the car washing business. The U.S. recession had a devastating affect on the vehicle wash industry as the price of gasoline increased rapidly. Shrinking profits for car wash operators slowed production and development of the industry.
Hanna Industries made two important inventions in 1975 — the automatic wheel cleaner and a polish ‘n wax application. These innovations made it possible for many car wash operations with Hanna equipment to stay in business because they had a “competitive edge” with services their competitors did not have.
By the early 1980s, the U.S. economy had rebounded with strong sustained growth in all sectors. The car wash industry recovered from the recession and car wash development was at an all time high. The automobile industry was having record sales, and in 1985 there were reportedly 162 million cars in the U.S.
As the numbers of cars and car washes grew exponentially in the 1980s, Hanna Industries again brought innovations to the market. Recognizing the need for consistent car wash quality, Hanna began franchising. In 1981, Entrepreneur’s magazine named Hanna the #2 franchiser in the world (just behind McDonald’s) and in 1982 named Hanna #1. Hanna’s success continued throughout the 1980s with the creation of more vehicle wash and marketing innovations.
By 1988, Hanna Industries was servicing more than 18,000 vehicle washes in 56 countries. Annual sales reached in excess of $30 million. In 1989, Hanna ranked #1 worldwide for installed conveyorized car washes.
In 1993, a Texas venture capital group brought about the merger of two industry giants — Hanna Industries and Sherman Carwash Company. The merged companies became Hanna-Sherman International, Inc. and had a large focus on international markets. Hanna first expanded in the Far East (Korea and Thailand) and emerging markets (including China, Russia and Eastern Europe). Hanna also increased activity in Germany, Ireland, Latin America and Southeast Asia. International growth flourished throughout the 1990s, making Hanna the most global car wash manufacturer in the industry
In 2001, a prominent group of Northwest investors purchased the assets of Hanna-Sherman International, Inc. and formed today’s Hanna Car Wash Systems International, LLC. Shareholders of the new company include The Aspen Group (based in Portland, Oregon) and Roy P. Disney, owner of The Apogee Company (based in Burbank, California). The Aspen Group is an investment group formed in 1989 that has participated in over 200 diverse projects including Warner Bros. Channel 32 in Salem, Oregon, the Westin Hotel in downtown Portland, and the Gregory Lofts in Portland’s Pearl District. The Apogee Group is a private investment organization owned by Roy P. Disney.
The financial strength of the shareholders permit Hanna to expand its business by placing added emphasis on Research & Development and focusing on continued innovation in the fine Hanna product line.
Today, Hanna Car Wash Systems International has more patents and trademarks than any other conveyorized system manufacturer. With over 30,000 installations in 90 countries and more than 650 million vehicles on the road worldwide, the future for Hanna and its customers is unlimited.
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The Legacy continues….. In an unprecedented and powerful move that aligns three of the car wash industry’s most trusted brands together under the same management, the acquisition of Jim Coleman Company Hanna by Ed O’Hanrahan of Galloway Chemical Division promises exciting developments for the entire carwash industry.
Since 1962, Galloway Chemical has been producing a full line of car wash chemicals along with designing, building and servicing hundreds of automatic, self-serve and tunnel car washes throughout the state of Florida. Similarly, in 1966 Jim Coleman started Jim Coleman Company as a two person operation and grew the family business into one of the oldest, largest, and respected OEM names in self serve and automatics. Likewise, on the West coast, in the early 1960’s Dan Hanna, an innovative pioneer in the conveyor market built the Hanna Carwash brand into the most recognizable and respected OEM names in tunnel equipment.
Today, these brands are joining forces. Under the leadership of Ed O’Hanrahan and Russell Coleman, Coleman Hanna Carwash Systems LLC will emerge as a power player in the industry, combining Jim Coleman Company’s knowledge of manufacturing carwash equipment with O’Hanrahan’s knowledge of producing wash solutions. The result is incredibly exciting and promising for the car wash business.
Galloway Chemicals, Jim Coleman Company and Hanna’s contribution to the vehicle washing industry is evident with a combined 150 years of collective experience. The consolidated expertise of Coleman Hanna Carwash Systems LLC provides a long legacy of industry firsts like credit card acceptance, on-demand conveyors, wrap-around cloth brushes and the express exterior car wash. They pledge continued development of innovative and leading edge products for the carwash investor.
This combined with an extensive domestic and international distribution network will give operators access to the industry’s largest and most diverse team of experts providing strength and knowledge in all car wash segments and more product and service lines to help grow their businesses. Looking to the future, Coleman Hanna Carwash Systems LLC is committed to building a stronger and more competitive company that meets the customers needs today and for many years to come.