Erie Brush Continues Tradition of Innovation and Quality, Despite Passing of Carwash Legend Dan Pecora
By Del Williams
With the recent passing of carwash legend Dan Pecora, his son Robert is continuing the family tradition of innovating some of the industry’s highest quality brushes as president of Erie Brush, a supplier to the carwash industry since 1948.
The Chicago, IL based manufacturer provides carwash owners with a wide variety of supplies for self-service washes, tunnel washes, auto detailing etc. This includes hog’s hair brushes, cloth, foam, tire/wheel brushes and detailing brushes for cars, trucks, boats, buses, and RVs.
“The passing of my father is very difficult and he is a legend in this business,” says Robert Pecora, who has 36 years of carwash industry experience. “Fortunately, the company is in a very strong position financially and the manufacturing processes he created over the years are all in place. We have ample inventory and are as ready as ever to service carwash operators.”
Although standard brushes, cloth and foam are offered, Erie Brush is also known in the industry for providing custom brushes in a broad assortment of materials, designs, and colors. Among the offerings are a vast number of specialty brushes for conveyor, rollover and drive-through washes for all major equipment OEMs.
“My father only ever really worried about one thing: making the best, most effective brushes in the world,” says Pecora. “He never compromised on quality, and price was never a factor in brush materials. Every material is of the absolute, highest quality which makes the brush clean better and last longer.”
A Legend Passes
Dan Pecora grew up with America’s carwash industry and influenced it with passion and creativity. He passed away April 26, 2020, a few days before he was inducted into the 2020 International Carwash Association (ICA) Hall of Fame, the industry’s highest honor.
As part of the industry since its inception, Pecora provided carwash owners with brushes in a variety of materials over the decades: from synthetic and natural materials in the 1940s, to plastic extruded filaments such as polyethylene and nylon in the 1950s, to cloth materials in the 1960s, hogs hair starting in the 1970s, to foam materials in the late 1990s.
Along the way, Pecora served as president of the Chicagoland Carwash Association, and won the ICA President’s Award in 1987 as well as the Distinguished Service Award in 1988, in addition to numerous other awards from regional carwash organizations.
Under his guidance, Erie Brush was responsible for a number of notable innovations in brush, cloth and foam technology.
To reliably attain clean wheels with less labour even on intricate or oversize rims, the company developed brush filaments that gradually vary in length to create a wave-like pattern, or resemble a well-manicured poodle – hence their names Wheel Wonder and Poodle Brush. As a vehicle travels through the automated carwash, the longer bristles reach deep into wheel crevices while the shorter bristles clean the tire and wheel surface.
For a better polish of vehicle surfaces without the risk of scratching, snagging or damaging any portion of the car, Erie Brush developed an exceptionally gentle foam for conveyor washes that was capable of reaching difficult-to-clean areas.
The innovative designs also impacted self-service washes. When Erie produced a foaming brush head with six feed holes, instead of the traditional two-three, the design ensured that enough foam was produced to lubricate the entire brush head. The result was a cleaner wash without damage to the vehicle surface.
In addition to more obvious innovations, attention was also directed at smaller details of brush design, including the number of filaments and for cloth and foam – the softness of the material.
“Every brush was designed to do a great job cleaning each vehicle while lasting a long time so the cost-per-wash is less at the end of the day, week and year,” says Robert Pecora.
The Third Generation
As it was for his father – and his father before him – Robert Pecora has been preparing his entire life to carry the mantle as the third generation in the carwash brush supply business.
At the age of 15, he began working at his father’s carwash, gaining valuable experience washing cars and performing maintenance. While washing 140,000+ cars per year with line speeds up to 160 cars/hour, he was able to learn many aspects of running a successful carwash.
When he was 20, he was asked by his father to work with him at Erie Brush to start learning more about the family business. He made the transition to Erie Brush and visited at least 50 carwashes per week for many years.
In 1994, he formed Simply Solutions Corporation, a chemical solutions manufacturing company, before selling it to a major chemical company in 2017 so that he could work alongside his father in his later years and prepare to eventually take over the business.
Robert Pecora says he will continue to focus on the critical elements of the brush manufacturing business. He believes that having an intimate knowledge of what carwash customers need is essential so they get the right tools for the job.
As for this period of transition, Pecora says he feels a responsibility to maintain Erie Brush’s standing in the industry as a leader in brush innovation and quality.
“My father has a plaque above the door to his office that reads, ‘This company shall live forever.’ Now it is in my office and as I walk through the door every day and look up at it, I remember my father’s passion and commitment – and continue the family legacy,” concludes Pecora.
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California.