With three locations in Gresham, Eco Car Wash owner continues his family's long-standing car wash legacy
by: Lance Kramer, Eco Car Wash owner Joey Hanna, 34, says he’s proud to carry on his family’s car-wash legacy, with attention to environmental consciousness and sustainable business practices.

If there's such a thing as destiny in the car wash business - then you might say Joey J. Hanna was destined to be a car wash man.

Since 2001, the 34-year-old Lake Oswego resident and native Oregonian has been at the helm of the successful Portland-based Eco Car Wash. As its CEO/owner, he's expanded the business to five locations in the Portland area, including one on Northeast 181st Avenue and Glisan Street, and another in outer East Portland at Southeast 169th Avenue and Powell Boulevard.

But the Hanna family car wash legacy stretches back much further, all the way to the 1950s, when Joey's late cousin, Daniel C. Hanna, revolutionized the way the world gets its automobiles squeaky clean.

In the late '50s and early '60s, Daniel Hanna, also a Portland native, invented and patented the first mechanized car washes. He created the roller-on-demand conveyor belt that pulls cars through the wash tunnel and things like the wrap-around brush and re-circulating water system.

Daniel's innovations made the Hanna name synonymous with the car wash world - the same way Campbell's is to soup, Marriot is to hotels or Coors is to beer.

Over the course of several decades, Daniel's company became the world's largest provider of car wash equipment, servicing more than 18,000 car washes worldwide. Hanna opened the first car wash in Japan in 1967. Gov. Tom McCall even appointed him commissioner of Mass Transportation.

In short, he was 'the Henry Ford of the car wash industry,' Joey Hanna says. 'He started the Hanna car wash legacy, and all of us are his disciples. He was a true innovator. He was the man.'

Though a group of Northwest investors purchased the Hanna Car Wash operation back in 2001, it didn't keep Joey, a young businessman himself with experience in the home construction and nursery industries, from deciding to continue in his family's footsteps.

When he started Eco Car Wash, Hanna's goal was to create an environmentally friendly car wash business that minimized its impact on the environment without sacrificing a quality wash.

Of course, washing a car takes a lot of water. So the most important area for Hanna to conserve resources is water usage. For each of his car wash facilities, he's designed a custom, computerized water reclaim system that cleans and re-uses 100 percent of the water. The system separates oils from the water and once a year, the debris is cleaned, treated and properly disposed of by a local waste treatment company.

Hanna estimates that a person washing a car at home will use anywhere from 90 to 140 gallons for each wash. But he says his more-efficient system uses between 35 to 40 gallons per car - and all of that water gets recycled, ready to use on another car.

Hanna's environmental consciousness doesn't stop with water usage. Eco Car Wash participates in the Portland General Electric wind power program, which means the monthly power usage of the Eco Car Wash is offset by renewable resources. The hydraulic oils used by his car wash machinery are all water-based and biodegradable. Some of the curbing on his lots is made from recycled products. And all of the paper used by his business is printed on recycled paper.

'The key to being eco-friendly in the carwash business is having the right setup,' Hanna says. 'With the system I've put together, it allows us to process customers faster and allows each vehicle to be cleaner, drier and still use less resources.'

Eco Car Wash is considered a 'GREAT' business (Gresham Resource Efficiency Assistance to Businesses). As part of the program, Hanna receives free assistance and advice from the city when it comes to water conservation, waste reduction and recycling, watershed pollution prevention, wastewater management and energy efficiency.

'Being a native Oregonian, it was always important for me to be environmentally friendly,' Hanna says. 'I've grown up loving nature and wildlife. I definitely think being environmentally conscious is the wave of the future. We're going to have to think that way whether we like it or not.'

And true to form, washing cars has definitely remained a family affair for Hanna. With Eco Car Wash, he's a business partner with his brother, Mark J. Hanna. Most equipment in his facilities is still the Hanna brand. And he uses non-acidic, non-corrosive, biodegradable shampoos and soaps manufactured by his cousin, Chuck Kaady, who also runs Kaady Car Washes in Oregon, Washington and California.

'My family heritage was one of the biggest motivators for getting into the car wash business,' he says. 'Going back to my family's business roots was very important for me.'

Although he's already taken big strides towards efficiency and sustainability, Hanna says there's still more to be done.

For one, over the next year, he plans on installing more separating bins at Eco Car Wash locations so customers can better sort out their trash for recycling.

He's looking at using solar energy and possibly designing a new system to trap rainwater.

'I see my business running even more efficient, becoming even more environmentally sensitive,' he says. 'I have someone who just does straight research and development for me, to figure out how to make the stores more environmentally conscious. The sky is really the limit. We're state-of-the-art now, and we'll continue being cutting edge in the future.'

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