How to Run a Car Wash Factory: Ray Rook Tells All
The way you set goals has everything to do with whether you achieve them. Just ask the team at Mark VII’s factory in Arvada, Colorado, where reaching big goals starts with small steps.
“Our goal is to build hundreds of car washes each year, but we break this down into smaller projects we work on daily,” says Ray Rook, vice president of supply chain at Mark VII. “It’s like the expression, ‘there’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.’”
Many factors must come together to produce a high-quality Mark VII car wash, from engineering to material procurement to assembly. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look into this busy factory to see what it takes:
- Clear communication. Selling a car wash starts a process that begins with a pre-production call and ends with the delivery of new equipment to the customer’s site. “Communication is key,” Rook says. “We stay in touch with the Mark VII team and the buyer so we understand the customer’s expectations, and everyone is on the same page.”
- Skilled employees. Many of the 90 employees at the Mark VII factory bring years of experience to their work. “There’s a lot of tenure here,” says Rook, who started working with Mark VII in 1995. “We’re fortunate to have men and women who really enjoy working at the factory.” Some prefer to specialize in one area, while others like to work in various parts of the factory. Employees often encourage their family and friends to work at the factory, Rook adds. There are many different jobs, including engineering, fabrication, welding, assembly, materials handling, logistics, electrical work, purchasing and more. “There are opportunities for career growth here,” Rook says.
- Streamlined workflow. The factory runs five days a week, with one shift a day and options for overtime. When it’s time to build a customer’s car wash, the throughput (production time) for an order is about three days, Rook says. The factory also handles after-market parts sales, supplying equipment to Mark VII’s technicians across North America. “Independent car wash owners often take a do-it-yourself approach to equipment maintenance,” Rook says. “We also have service agreements, if the owner prefers that option.”
- Flexibility. In the COVID-19 era, supply chain challenges remain widespread. “We have to find practical solutions in these challenging times,” Rook says. “We’re searching for workable alternatives daily.” Mark VII’s engineering team works closely with the purchasing team and service technicians to get the job done. Sometimes Mark VII service techs in one region can ship parts they’re not using to service techs in other regions whose customers need these parts. “We’ve all learned to be more flexible,” Rook says.
- Positive attitude. While the skilled trades are in demand at Mark VII, so are people who are willing to learn. “Attitude is one of the big things we look for in new employees,” says Rook, who started as a laborer at Mark VII. “When you have a positive attitude, you can learn anything.” This spirit helps the Mark VII team manufacture car wash equipment that ensures clean, dry, shiny cars. “All we do is build car washes, and we want to do it well,” says Rook, who encourages customers to schedule a factory tour. “We manage what we can control, stay flexible, and focus on the task at hand so we can serve our customers effectively.”