My Top 3 Takeaways from ICA’s The Car Wash Show 2023

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The Car Wash Show is an important event for anyone in the carwash industry, whether you're an operator, supplier, or industry professional looking to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. It’s hosted annually by the International Carwash Association (ICA) and brings together thousands of carwash professionals from all over the world. Attendees have the opportunity to network with peers, participate in educational sessions, and learn about the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices in the carwash and detailing industry. 

This year in 2023 was the best turnout yet with 9,000+ attendees, 420 exhibitors, and 190,000 square feet of trade show space! The PetroCal team was excited to participate in this premier carwash event. Our team included Reuven Birnkrant, CEO; myselfDorielle Birnkrant, COO/CMO; Ryan Dame, Senior Underwriter; Joe Kurschner, Real Estate Associate; and Rigo Cardenas, Loan Officer. In addition to our booth exhibit, I had the opportunity to discuss women’s success in leadership roles with Megan Ragsdale, COO of Soapy Joe’s, during a Carwash Magazine Live Session.

Our team left The Car Wash Show feeling inspired and energized by the positive outlook towards the industry as a whole shared by operators and other vendors. We really enjoyed meeting new clients and reconnecting with past clients and friends. In this blog, we’ll share the overarching themes we picked up on during our time at the event.

PetroCal’s Top 3 Takeaways from The Car Wash Show

1. Successful Carwashes Build a Positive Culture

Building a successful carwash business requires more than just having a great location and state-of-the-art equipment. A significant factor that can determine the success of a carwash is the culture that is fostered within the organization. This is because a positive culture that cares for its employees can lead to improved productivity, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, profitability. The Talent Development education sessions were a great source of information, like:

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to take pride in their work and provide exceptional customer service. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer loyalty and a positive reputation for the business. A positive culture can also reduce employee turnover and recruitment costs, as employees are more likely to stay with the organization and help grow and improve the business if they feel they are part of a supportive and caring team. Plus, they can refer your business to others in their network as a great place to work. In contrast, a negative culture that does not prioritize employee well-being can lead to increased absenteeism, low morale, and high turnover rates, which harm the success and growth of your carwash.

Some ways to build your carwash’s culture involve providing opportunities for employee development, offering fair compensation and benefits, creating a safe and inclusive work environment, and fostering a sense of community and teamwork. Business owners and managers can make mindful choices to prioritize employee well-being, which will create a positive work environment and lead to improved customer satisfaction, profitability, and long-term success.

2. Women Need to Take a Stand in Leadership

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Megan Ragsdale, COO of Soapy Joe’s Car Wash and author of “Risky Women: How to reach the top levels of leadership or know when to get the hell out, for a Carwash Magazine LIVE session to discuss her book and women’s success in business and our industry specifically. As a founding member of the International Carwash Association’s Women in Leadership Group, I enjoyed this special opportunity to speak with Megan, an industry leader who has so much to offer to women in the industry.

We talked about women leading at the highest levels of corporations, small businesses, and startups. We covered market environment changes that impact women’s ability to climb the ladder, how to know when to fight for happiness in a job or know when to leave, and honing in on offensive risk-taking skills. 

Despite women attaining equal education, women-led startups receive less funding than others, and the number of women in boardrooms has decreased significantly according to the research Megan did for her book. Covid greatly impacted women in the workforce since they left their roles to stay home and be caretakers during at-home orders, were fired due to downsizing, or stayed in their positions but suffered higher burnout. Megan advocates for a paradigm shift: women are natural risk-takers who must know their value and bet on themselves. Do business the way you want to do business; you can’t wait for corporations to catch up!

3. The Carwash Industry Unites Diverse Crowds

If this year’s event is proof of anything, it’s that the carwash industry is alive and well. Record-breaking crowds explored the 190,000+ sq. ft. of expo space at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It’s inspiring to see such a wide variety of people of all ages, backgrounds, and locations who are interested in moving carwashes forward. There were many conversations surrounding starting a carwash, especially with all the latest technology close by on the expo floor. Every year there are new products and services to learn about, fascinating education sessions with takeaways that can’t be gotten elsewhere, and opportunities to network with new and old faces alike, and this year was no exception.

ICA did a fantastic job describing three categories of attendees:

  • Dreamer: You're looking towards the future. Anticipating trends, capitalizing growth, and innovating endlessly - this is who you are.
  • Director: You make it happen. Pushing the buttons behind operations, understanding customers and employees - you get your team there.
  • Doer: You can't help but hit the ground running. Whether it be through communication, production, culture - your gears are always turning.

The Car Wash Show is a fantastic opportunity to connect with industry peers, learn about the latest products and services, and uncover trends in the carwash industry. If it isn’t on your radar of carwash trade shows, we vote to put it at the top in the future! It’s on our list of favorite trade shows that we try to attend or exhibit at each year. Let us know if you’re planning on going so we can connect!

Whether you’re just getting started with your first carwash location or looking to expand or sell, leverage our experience to ensure proper execution and a successful transaction. If it’s financing that you need, we can help you secure the loan using our trusted network of lenders. If you need representation in a real estate transaction, we can work together to help you coral a deal and get it closed. Whatever you need, we’re here to help you create a plan to meet your short-term needs and achieve your long-term goals. Contact the PetroCal team to discuss the vision for your business. 


Dorielle Birnkrant is the COO/CMO of PetroCal Associates. Dorielle is a strategic thinker and an accomplished executive with expertise in managing and growing teams, developing and implementing operational processes and marketing strategies, and sponsorship and partnership negotiations, having established a track record of building and sustaining highly visible client, partner, and vendor relationships. 

In 2022, the International Carwash Association’s (ICA) Carwash Magazine included Dorielle as one of the 13 most powerful women in the carwash industry in a fascinating article. She is a founding member of the ICA’s Women in Leadership Group and proudly attends the annual leadership events amongst her mentors and peers in the industry.