Trade Gloom for Opportunity

September 1, 2004

3 Min Read
Trade Gloom for Opportunity

Trade Gloom for Opportunity

By Fred Grauer

In Southern California, as May drew to a close, residentsprepared for June Gloom, a time of the year when much of the state prefersto hibernate rather than go outside to wash cars and have fun. People are downin the dumps, the sky is falling and, in general, malaise prevails throughoutthe land.

Being a frequent visitor to the state, with four of fivechildren as well as several friends and customers living there, I had to wonderabout this phenomenon, not out of morbid curiosity but real concern. I havesince learned that June Gloom occurs when the ground warms, yet the oceanremains cold. The results of this convergence are gray, overcast skies,uncertain weather and unpredictable sailing conditions. Are we talking aboutclimatic circumstances or the economy? In either case, it doesnt sound like agood time to be venturing into uncharted waters or washing cars.

A Greater Incident

Is June Gloom strictly a weather-driven, regional condition,or is it a general dissatisfaction being experienced by the entire country? Normally, to answer such deep, philosophical questions, Iconsult my Ouija board. So I did. But not having arrived at any palatable,sensible answers, I decided to seek out the facts.

It didnt take long to confirm the South and Southeast hashad rain; the West is going through a drought; employment is up;durable-goods orders are going up; interest rates are still the lowest they havebeen in years; petroleum margins have improved; net profits in most industriesare better; and, most important, the International Carwash Associationcelebrated its 50th anniversary and had its best annual convention ever. Mostcar-wash operators volumes and profits are up. So whats the deal?

There is no doubt that, globally speaking, America is not theworlds favorite son. Its easy to blame our poll numbers, which are in thebasement, for the countrys unrest. But lets face it: When you aresuccessful in your business, personal or political life, someone is going todislike you. We still know the weather is plus or minus a degree over last year,and our economy is rebounding nicely; so what is the real cause of ourdejection?

I think its the story of Chicken Little all over again.Even though the forecast indicates sun, we have elected to become defensiverather than proactive in all areas of our lives, business included. But unlikethe weather, over which we have no control, our economic and political woes arethings we can counteract. For those of us who have weathered every stormimaginable, June Gloom is actually an opportunity.

One autumn, years ago, I faced a particularly challengingseason. My car washes had suffered from 26 weekends of rain, and I was ready tocut my throat. I called a dear friend and great car-wash colleague, FredFrattaroli. Freddy and I were commiserating, and he made a statement to meIve never forgotten: In every seed of adversity, there is a seed of equal orgreater opportunity.

Whats the point of all this rhetoric? Its a message tothose currently suffering from the gloom: Get real! This is a time of action. Itsa great time to start a new businesswhy not a car-wash business, inconjunction with selfstorage or separately? Our government, the same one thatbrought you freedom of speech and choice, also offers some pretty tremendous taxincentives. But the time on its deal is running short; so be proactive, put asmile on your face as well as your wallet, and invest. Your Chicken Littlecounterparts will be cogitating, and youll be enjoying a more efficient, profitable business.

Fred Grauer is the vice president, distributor network, forMarkVII Equipment LLC, a car-wash equipment manufacturer in Arvada, Colo. He hasmade a lifelong career of designing, selling, building and operating car washes.He can be reached at [email protected].

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