Red Hill Car Wash: Innovation at its Finest
By Tania Moffat
When an innovator and former carwash service technician/installer takes an interest in the ownership side of the industry the result is an expression of his technological knowledge. JJ Woodley spent six years working for Mondo prior to opening his first wash with his wife Melanie Sands in 2007.
This fall, Red Hill Car Wash will be opening its third location in Waterdown and like its sister sites, technology and innovation take centre stage.
The couple purchased their first location, a six-bay self-serve wash on Pritchard Road in Hamilton, Ontario, from one of JJ’s former clients. “Since we entered the business, we have tried to adopt and develop technology that either makes the customer experience better or makes it more efficient for us to run our business. I have a good grasp on how the equipment works and is supposed to work. Over the years I’ve designed various things and our equipment has evolved. For example, I’ve adjusted our wash system to release products in six to eight seconds, most triggers take 20-30 seconds. That’s a huge difference. Our customers appreciate the consistency we offer them. They know that all our bays will be running and offering the same quality of service,” shares Woodley.
Looking to expand, Woodley and Sands purchased land in Waterdown in 2014 to build their second carwash. Unfortunately, years of red tape put the project on hold. In 2016, when they were approached by another former client looking to get out of the business, they made a deal and Red Hill’s second location was born.
“We had been waiting so long on Waterdown we thought, by the time we can actually start to build we could probably buy this property, turn it around and use the equity to build the Waterdown site, which is what exactly ended up happening,” says Sands.
The business, located on Parkdale Avenue in Hamilton, was a nine-bay, self-serve carwash. Believing six bays were sufficient, the pair decided to add a detailing business in the extra space. “Melanie took over that part of the company. It’s very labour intensive, and was a huge learning experience for us. We used the same mentality and goals that we have for our self-serve wash. We go the extra mile, and when you combine that with reliability, consistency and excellent service you can quickly dominate the market. Melanie was able to build that business very quickly,” Woodley adds.
Build what you need
When they needed a better payment app for their private wash, Woodley developed one with his partner Paul DiDomenico. Tech First Wash Systems integrates with most automatic teller systems for in-bay automatic self-serve equipment, vacuum cleaners and self-serve vending machines.
“We’ve implemented the system at all our washes. One of the advantages is that it gives you remote access to your equipment right from your phone. The app has monitoring devices that we install at the site, to measure preset levels such as air pressure, change machine and the temperature in the control room along with five dynamic inputs customers can select themselves. It is completely customizable to reflect a company’s brand and logo, and has fleet capability, membership programs, rewards and customer notification abilities. It’s a robust system, and requires very little hardware in the wash bay,” says Woodley.
Sands appreciates how it is able to assist their employees. “We can set them up with money on their app which allows them to reimburse clients, test run or clean the bays, without having to use tokens or coins.”
Seven years after the land was purchased, Woodley and Sands were finally able to break ground at Waterdown. Claybar Contracting, a company that has been building carwashes in Ontario for the last 20 years, is completing the construction on the brand new six bay self-serve wash and 100-foot express exterior tunnel.
Using NCS Mondo to supply the tunnel equipment, Woodley designed his own package based on his experience, utilizing several brands including Belanger, McNeil and Mondo proprietary equipment. “There were a few pieces of equipment that I had to have. The McNeil RS-1000 top-brush has some great advantages and I was sold on it right away. It’s set on a single-leg so you have the option to mount it on either side of the tunnel and save space. By positioning one forward facing and a second rear facing you are able to cover a lot of the vehicle and provide more touch time,” Woodley says.
Balenger’s Quick Fire wraps were another must have. “The Quick Fires were 100 per cent a piece of equipment we were going to get. I haven’t seen a better brush in the field when it comes to being able to chase and overlap the back of the vehicle,” adds Woodley.
“The equipment JJ chose is what makes this wash unique,” says Bradley Goetz, vice president equipment at NCS Mondo. “It features 85 per cent Balenger equipment. In addition to the Quick Fires, he included the Balenger high-side and low-side brushes, wheel stingers with high pressure and the oscillating high pressure arch and undercar rinse. JJ chose his entry system from Hamilton Manufacturing, but the feature that stands out is the MCE belt conveyor system. The majority of tunnel format carwashes feature a regular over and under style of conveyor. The belt conveyor is the most revolutionary tunnel component in North America. The biggest benefit of this type of conveyor is that it is very friendly when it comes to loading and is less likely to cause damage to wheels and rims.
A tire shine is the one piece of equipment missing from Waterdown’s wash configuration. “They are a service nightmare and really only do an okay job. The tire shine systems are not reliable, they are not consistent and they do not provide excellent service so they fail on all three of our key values, which is why we didn’t put them in. If JJ needs to continuously fix something or if something just doesn’t work to his standards, he will usually figure out a better way to do it, but it wasn’t worthwhile with the tire shine,” says Sands.
Woodley, Sands and their daughters Janine, 15 and Sierra, 17, are looking forward to Waterdown’s grand opening. The location will be family run and no doubt thrive under the duo’s operating values and the wash’s technological advances.
Tania Moffat is a writer, editor and photographer. You view her work or contact her at