By Christine Graf
Hoffman Car Wash is interested in opening a second location in Queensbury at 919 Route 9.
A new one in Halfmoon could be in the offing next year.
The company has operated its Quaker Road car wash and Jiffy Lube franchise since 2004.
“The whole community in that location has grown to a point where we felt it was prudent to look for an additional location in that market,” said Hoffman Car Wash CEO Tom Hoffman Jr.
The location is 2.5 miles away from another Hoffman’s on Quaker Road.
“We feel it is far enough away from our existing location and also helps us serve our customers better,” he said.
The parcel is located in a high-traffic area near a Walmart Supercenter. Hoffman’s cousin, Chuck Hoffman, is the current owner of the property.
According to Tom Hoffman, his company is in the process of seeking municipal approvals from the Town of Queensbury. If they are granted, construction of the $6 million car wash could begin as soon as next spring. If that happens, the business could be open during the late fall of 2022.
Hoffman Car Wash operates 22 car washes, nine of which include Jiffy Lube franchises. The company has 700 employees and recently ventured into the car was equipment manufacturing business. In addition to manufacturing their own equipment at their new headquarters in Albany, they offer it for sale to car washes around the county.
“We just started that last year,” said Hoffman. “We build fixture heavy, stainless steel equipment and we feel it does a better job than equipment that is available in the marketplace in the car wash industry. We write our own software that controls the equipment in the car wash, and we’re a UL electrical panel shop, so we build our own motor control centers.
“We have software developers and engineers on staff. It’s so much more sophisticated than you can imagine. It’s very advanced technology. There is nothing like it in the car wash industry.”
It was Hoffman who first started writing software for the company in the late 1980s after attending a free one-day programming seminar. He has been involved in the business since he was a child and can remember sorting coins when he was five years old.
The company was started by his parents, Tom, Sr., and Carole, in 1965 with a single coin operated self-service car wash in Albany. They built their first automatic car wash in 1968, and Hoffman’s sisters, Carrie and Paige, also work for the family-owned business.
Today, the company has locations throughout the Capital Region and as far west as Binghamton and as far south as Kingston. They are in the process of building four more car washes in the Utica/Rome market.
“We are on a bit of a tear right now,” said Hoffman. “We will be building one in Cohoes, Gloversville and another one in Halfmoon. We could open as many as six next year. Queensbury could be number seven.”
The growth has been fueled by low interest rates and the fact that the car wash industry has emerged from the pandemic slowdown.
“It’s been a steady climb out of the hole. Our business really suffered, but there’s the pent up demand for our customers to get out of the house and start traveling. That has helped rebound our car washes and our Jiffy Lube,” said Hoffman. “Our unlimited car wash program that is a subscription based program offers a contactless payment method, and that had a bump because of the pandemic when people didn’t want to touch surfaces. We had a lot of people sign up.”
During the early days of the pandemic, the company furloughed its part-time workers but retained all full-time employees. The increased federal unemployment benefits have made it difficult for the company to meet current staffing demands. As a result, Hoffman increased its starting hourly wage to $15 and gave all hourly employees a $2 raise.
“The stimulus has really hurt our ability to attract employees,” said Hoffman. “The stimulus has really interfered with all small businesses and their ability to attract people.”
Hoffman expects their manufacturing business to grow now that company is able to showcase its products at trade shows. Trade shows were halted during the pandemic but have resumed.
“We just shipped a whole bunch of our equipment to a customer in Alaska,” he said. “We now have customers all over the country. We’re very optimistic about the growth of that part of our business.”