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Sonny's Acquires Harrell's Car Wash Systems

Wash4Life

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I just got an email that Sonny's has acquired Harrell's Car Wash Systems. For me, this was a surprise because it feels like Harrell's just acquired Washtech, who we had been dealing with. I liked Harrell's and felt they ran themselves way better than Washtech did. Hopefully, that continues with Sonny's.
 

Sparkleclean

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I was shocked too. Harrell’s has also just bought New England car wash equipment and Autoshine of New England very recently. These consolidations are not gonna be good for independent car wash owners in the long run. It feels like the goal of all the big boys is to bring everything under one roof, one stop shopping so to speak for equipment, signage,chemicals, maintenance, etc.
 

sparkey

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Sonny’s will own the industry in the future I believe.
Thats to bad. They are very difficult to deal with. I had to jump through several hoops to order a part from them one time. Never used them since.
 

Sparkleclean

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Just wanted to add a couple notes to this thread. Sonnys did buy harrels which had already bought new england carwash equipment AND autoshine of conn and maine. Im surprised dover (PDQ and belanger) was ok with this transaction as now sonnys has the contracts to repair their equipment. Its like ford buying all the chevy dealerships. Unless of course sonnys buys dover next which wouldnt surprise me in the least!

But now that the merger has taken place i want to add my 2 cents so anyone else dealing with this issue knows what is going on.

Apparently there has been a major upheaval at harrels. The previous incarnation of new england car wash was run by jeff armiento and chris lindley. They were both kept on after harrels bought them, but now that sonnys has taken over both chris and jeff are out of the company. Love them or hate them they both knew their shit when it came to the equipment they dealt with.

apparently the rank and file service techs are also super upset about how things are being handled with the new merger, and several have told me over the last couple weeks that most techs either have already quit, or will be very soon. Chris and jeff were out a couple weeks ago and others are set to leave very soon if they havent already.

That is problematic because the techs with the most experience are moving on and the company wont have any service techs on staff with real good hands on experience. That means most techs coming out now for service will just be calling pdq tech support for help with technical problems, which i am able to do myself!

I am also afraid it means now that the crew of techs will be younger, in essence all of us customers will be paying for their on the job training. It took me 5+ years to really know and understand our pdq equipment, and i still have problems at times. But when i call a service tech i want to know that person has MORE experience then i do, not less. Especially for the amount we pay for that service.

I was always confident that new england carwash equipment had service techs that were highly knowledgable and experienced. That was backed up by two guys with tons of experience in the industry who could deal with, and had already probably seen most problems that would arise with most equipment, jeff and chris.

Now they are both gone and the company seems to be getting decimated more and more every day. And sonnys took over and i feel they are all about being a one stop shop nowadays, which makes me uncomfortable in general. The lifeblood of most service companies is experience, it looks like that experience is being drained from Harrells daily, and that leaves me and people like me in a tough spot. I have a very technical issue with my g5 and now there is no one at harrells who even knows what to do about it.

Just figured i would put that out there in case anyone else is having trouble getting service from them, or calls returned. Like in most merger/buyout scenarios there are always bumps in the road early on. But these bumps, if sonnys cant get it under control quickly, could lead to years of knowledge walking out the door and taking half a decade to replace it, if even possible. Plus how long will pdq and others deal with their customers getting substandard service before making a change?
 

JGinther

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Is there no competitive option that is better? If not, them loosing the experienced staff could end up making them more money... I've seen it where people replace machines simply because nobody at the distributor level or even the manufacturer level knew anything about a 5 year old machine because of staff turnover. They refer to them as 'old machines'. What's the customer to do??? Buy a new machine, that's what.
 

sparkey

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Having purchased a used PDQ machine I don't see where anything has changed. I have never been able to get any kind of support from PDQ or harrels.
 

New Washdog

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Just wanted to add a couple notes to this thread. Sonnys did buy harrels which had already bought new england carwash equipment AND autoshine of conn and maine. Im surprised dover (PDQ and belanger) was ok with this transaction as now sonnys has the contracts to repair their equipment. Its like ford buying all the chevy dealerships. Unless of course sonnys buys dover next which wouldnt surprise me in the least!

But now that the merger has taken place i want to add my 2 cents so anyone else dealing with this issue knows what is going on.

Apparently there has been a major upheaval at harrels. The previous incarnation of new england car wash was run by jeff armiento and chris lindley. They were both kept on after harrels bought them, but now that sonnys has taken over both chris and jeff are out of the company. Love them or hate them they both knew their shit when it came to the equipment they dealt with.

apparently the rank and file service techs are also super upset about how things are being handled with the new merger, and several have told me over the last couple weeks that most techs either have already quit, or will be very soon. Chris and jeff were out a couple weeks ago and others are set to leave very soon if they havent already.

That is problematic because the techs with the most experience are moving on and the company wont have any service techs on staff with real good hands on experience. That means most techs coming out now for service will just be calling pdq tech support for help with technical problems, which i am able to do myself!

I am also afraid it means now that the crew of techs will be younger, in essence all of us customers will be paying for their on the job training. It took me 5+ years to really know and understand our pdq equipment, and i still have problems at times. But when i call a service tech i want to know that person has MORE experience then i do, not less. Especially for the amount we pay for that service.

I was always confident that new england carwash equipment had service techs that were highly knowledgable and experienced. That was backed up by two guys with tons of experience in the industry who could deal with, and had already probably seen most problems that would arise with most equipment, jeff and chris.

Now they are both gone and the company seems to be getting decimated more and more every day. And sonnys took over and i feel they are all about being a one stop shop nowadays, which makes me uncomfortable in general. The lifeblood of most service companies is experience, it looks like that experience is being drained from Harrells daily, and that leaves me and people like me in a tough spot. I have a very technical issue with my g5 and now there is no one at harrells who even knows what to do about it.

Just figured i would put that out there in case anyone else is having trouble getting service from them, or calls returned. Like in most merger/buyout scenarios there are always bumps in the road early on. But these bumps, if sonnys cant get it under control quickly, could lead to years of knowledge walking out the door and taking half a decade to replace it, if even possible. Plus how long will pdq and others deal with their customers getting substandard service before making a change?
I had a conversation with someone yesterday. I don't want to go into detail, but plans are afoot to fill the service glut that was just created.
 

Wash4Life

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Having purchased a used PDQ machine I don't see where anything has changed. I have never been able to get any kind of support from PDQ or harrels.
I'm with you on PDQ. Years ago, we sent our Access Unit bill dispensers to be repaired. They could never get them going. David West of Washtech fame went on a tour in the Maryland area with some PDQ executives. I told them about the problem. They were so dismissive.

Last year, we had a problem where over the weekend, the WALS system for our memberships would go down. That meant codes and cards could not work either. The PDQ guy there I called was so dismissive.
 

Zal

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I have dealt with Harrell's out of Indy since buying my washes. They are responsive and sharp. Too dang pricey but you get what pay for. I sure hope Sonny's does not destroy that by running off the Techs or start screwing with customer hourly rates. I really don't think bigger is better.
Also, PDQ as a manufacturer could use some SERIOUS lessons in customer service. Therefore I contact Harrell's and my local service man for most PDQ issues. It took a few service calls to develop a good relationship with the tech but this is by far the best way for me to work on PDQ equipment. I do 80-90% of my work myself. If it gets too deep I call for help. Keep this in mind if you have PDQ equipment. I will be in the market for new equipment in the near future. We will evaluate later based on how Sonny's works out. We have options. Many options
 
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